Review: Red Dead Redemption

Like all good Westerns, Red Dead Redemption includes tumbleweed that drift by in the wind. It’s a must have in any Western situation, but layered on top of the awesome tumbleweed inclusion is the most comprehensive, expansive and thrilling take on the Wild West ever portrayed in gaming.

Coming from Rockstar, those oh so brilliant minds behind titles such as Grand Theft Auto and LA Noire, Red Dead Redemption follows the same vein of these titles. It takes place in a large, detailed and very desert-y Wild Western open world, a place of desolation, debauchery and desperate times. Booting up this game, the player finds themselves donning the dusty, trail-worn boots of John Marston, a gunslinging former outlaw who – as it turns out through the plot – is being conned by the government into rounding up his former outlaw teammates. The price? John will never see his family again if he doesn’t agree to take the plunge and do what the government asks of him.

Thus begins the most comprehensive Wild West experience every portrayed in gaming. The game world is massive, there’s so very much to do, there’s multiplayer, there’s zombie related expansions and there’s even big grizzly bears to try and kill only weilding a knife. In short, Red Dead Redemption is a startingly brilliant game that showed Rockstar aren’t just a one trick pony – instead they took their often-copied but never replicated open world material they’d used to great effect in Grand Theft Auto IV and transferred it over into a brand new game that won the hearts of absolutely anyone who ever dreamed of being a cowboy (IE, most of the human race).

 

From the very moment you boot up the game and first step out to see the highly impressive vistas, Red Dead Redemption will have you totally hooked. While you’re still being floored by just how big, beautiful and detailed the game is, Rockstar delivers punch after punch (in a good way) that keeps your interest at every turn. Bored of shooting people in the face? Go play poker.  Bored of playing Poker? Wander down a town highstreet and take place in a classic cowboy duel to the death. The possibilities are seemingly endless in this title – whether you want to simply wander the wastes and cause havoc or actually experience the incredible amount of in-depth missions is entirely your decision. This isn’t just Grand Theft Auto with horses, it is an entirely new breed of game that breathes new life into the open world genre, stepping away from sprawling cities in favour of a more barren landscape before the world became as civilised as it is today.

John Marston’s tale itself is an extremely interesting one. Not your typical badass cowboy (despite being a former outlaw), John Marston is often highly polite towards people, and his every move is done knowing he is one step closer to his family, his retirement, and once again living a peaceful life. In order to do this he’s going to need to take down every single one of his former gang in one way or another, and he’ll do this by enlisting the help of a wide variety of differerent characters, each of which has their own distinct personalities and bizarre traits. Take, for example, Seth. This strange fellow, driven mad by his pursuit of treasure, is often found exhuming corpses and talking to them in very strange ways. He’s essentially the kind of character you would probably never went to be associated with – however Seth’s connections and knowledge locked away deep in his eroded mind are invaluable in helping John achieve his goals.

It should be a familiar mission structure to anyone who’s ever played GTA. You follow your minimap around the wastes and mission markers are placed in relevant postions, activated when you so choose to do so (if you’re finished tying people up and placing them on traintracks, generally). There’s so very many of these to do, and generally they’re all pretty varied and exciting. There’s a few repeated instances like running away on a horse and being chased by about fifteen angry outlaws a few times, but to be honest blasting them off their horses with expertly timed shots to the head is as much of a thrill the fourth time as it is the first.

Thanfully, Mr Martson has a varied amount of firearms which he can tuck away out of site and into the great deep gaming pockets of destiny each and every shooting protagonist/RPG character seems to have. You’ll be weilding everything from rifles to gatling guns, dynamite to pocket throwing knives and finding out which one of them is the best for you is all part of the fun. After all, this is a Rockstar title, so you’ll be shooting a lot of things in your quest throughout New Austin/Mexico.

Also including a free-roaming multiplayer that allows you to create possees and cause all kinds of havoc in the dusty landscapes of New Austin, RDR offers one of the most robust, fun and time-sinking multiplayer extensions. I’d even go as far to say its better then COD. Shoot me if you will.

If you’re never played RDR, now may be the time to saddle up and get shooting up the West. I promise you, you shan’t be dissapointed.

Score: 9.5/10

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