Red Dead Redemption Review
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Rockstar has outdone itself with this enormous Wild West inspired sandbox adventure. In a world where outlaws rule, John Marston is perhaps the greatest of them all, befriending a dazzling cast of characters for his own need. Revenge.
- The brilliantly presented narrative and storyline
- How Rockstar lassoed the Wild West feeling
- The Free Roam multiplayer mode which gives the game long legs
- The occasional visual hiccup
- Some quests, particularly the farmhand ones, were decidedly dull
Rockstar has a way of crafting its games to feel like epic movies. Whether it’s a smooth player strutting through Vice City, or a wannabe mobster in Liberty City, each of Rockstar’s games carries a narrative that often surpasses the best Hollywood has to offer. So, as you are riding on a train into an unknown western post at the beginning of the game, the credits slowly roll, exposing the audience to just a few of the many people who created Red Dead Redemption. The conversation on the train seems relevant for today’s world – religion, politics, and immigration – but it is without a doubt not a critique of modern society; rather, it’s a testament to the fine writing you’ll find throughout the game.
You’ll get off the train, accompanied by some apparent federal officials, but little is discussed early in the game to give the player any insight into who John Marston is. Lucky for us, part of the fun in Red Dead Redemption is learning about Marston, why he’s out west on the U.S./Mexico border, and why he’s so darn good with a firearm. He is not unlike other stars in Rockstar’s sandbox games. He knows how to kill, he knows how to drive (this game it just so happens to be horses and coaches), and he consistently must make moral decisions. He is, for what it’s worth, easily the most likeable protagonist in recent gaming history.
And that says an awful lot about the game since the Wild West is known for creating criminals out of the common man. Marston is not common, though. In fact, he comes from a lawless life and is sole mission throughout the game is to find and capture or kill one of his old gang members. This will not be an easy task as he’s barricaded himself in a fort along with his cohorts. We’ll leave the story there, and let you experience it for yourself.
While the story and how it is all presented is one of the best parts of the game, what truly sets Red Dead Redemption apart from just about any other game is how well it brings the player in to the Wild West. The frontier land of New Austin and the Mexican border territories of Nuevo Paraiso are so realistic that after playing the game for just a few days, we became convinced that all of this happened, and that we were playing some historical piece.
The world is alive. Sure, we’ve said that about a lot of games, but never have we experienced the detail that Rockstar San Diego has put into Red Dead Redemption, which is the spiritual successor to Red Dead Revolver. In classic Rockstar form, there are plenty of side quests, different ways to make money, and townsfolk always have something to say that’s relevant to the story. But beyond that classic style, Rockstar has given us a frontier to explore. Instead of playing through an urban jungle, we find ourselves in the brutal wilderness, complete with animals, harvestable plants, roaming outlaws, vulchers hovering over fresh carcasses, ambient trumpet music, brilliantly lit red rock cliffs, tumbleweed, and some of the best sunsets any game has to offer. All of the animals in the land can be killed. You’ll find wolves, bears, coyotes, eagles, armadillos, deer, and even skunks. Still, there’s a reason for slaughtering the local wildlife - you can harvest animal parts and sell them to shop keeps.
Much of your life is spent on horseback. Still, we wouldn’t recommend getting too attached to the friendly beast, as while you essentially have a designated animal, you’ll quickly find they can be slain just as easily as yourself, either by local wildlife or enemy gunfire. The riding mechanics themselves are solid, but not quite as polished as they could have been. Horses have a tendency to run into walls or cacti when you are trying to gun down some bandits. You’ll have plenty of time to practice riding as there are several races you can take part in to earn some extra money, and increase your horse’s stamina. It’s also not uncommon for your horse to wander away if you dismount. That’s not a problem ... (continued on next page)