Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption

Created to be the spiritual successor of Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption offers a deep and engaging story for the single player as well as multiplayer modes.

It is a sandbox-style action-adventure western video game for PS3 and Xbox 360 by Rockstar Games.

While it uses the same engine as Grand Theft Auto IV, to call it Grand Theft Horse would do a gross disservice to the depth and uniqueness of the game.

With player and critic raves all over the world, this game boasts a Metacritic Rating of 95 (out of 100) and Game of the Year nods.  Red Dead Redemption is a game western fans should not miss.

Plot Summary and Gameplay

Red Dead Redemption is set in 1911, as the last of the wild old west fights the civilization trying to tame it. The player takes the role of John Marston, former outlaw trying to go straight to make a better life for his teenage son. This plan is complicated by the interference of agents of the Bureau of Investigation, who take his wife and son hostage to force Marston to hunt down members of his old gang.

The environment is primarily desert in the early chapters, boasting sage and rattlesnakes, ranging from the American southwest to Mexico, but in time the player makes their way to the plains and high mountains.

Gameplay is non-linear, with the storyline missions available at the player’s own pace. At will, the player can choose to hunt bounties, break horses, gather herbs, hunt wildlife, participate in card or dice mini-games, or help strangers and townsfolk in chance encounters and non-storyline missions in the open world. Robbing banks and trains, fighting duels, and engaging in saloon brawls are also options.

Red Dead Redemption uses a morality system, with the player’s honor or dishonor influencing how NPCs react to them. The player also acquires Fame, separate from the Honor stat, so that they can become a legendary villain or hero in the eyes of the people.

The non-player-character and animal artificial intelligence set up incredible and hilarious interactions as they roam the world reacting to the player and each other. A group of outlaws trying to pull off a job, for example, may find themselves prey if a pack of wolves pass by. Both may pose a threat to a player, or may be a help by being a distraction.

Sound plays an important part of this game. Predators give warning that they’re around, and distant gunshots can alert the player that there’s a chance encounter to participate in. The music is clearly inspired by Ennio Morricone’s soundtracks for the old Spaghetti Westerns, and is a work of art in itself. Also not to be missed is the background chatter from townsfolk, with many humorous exchanges possible to be overheard.

While not having as great a role as the sound, I was much impressed with the lighting, and the weather system. The lighting allowed for natural scenes of such beauty I just had to pause to take it in, and the weather included rain, thunderstorms, or even snow. I found myself inclined to just go back into the saloon for a game of cards on days of a heavy downpour, rather than heading out to hunt bounties. It was that real.

My Review

Red Dead Redemption was a joy a to play, and I lingered, not wanting to finish the game. It was great fun just hopping on your horse and heading out across the desert, enjoying the ambiance and not knowing what kind of crazy situations you’d encounter but they were sure to be remarkable.

As a sandbox game, and as a western, it hit every right note and is a truly great game. You run into an occasional glitch, like a suitcase or crate suspended in space in the middle of the road, but nothing game-breaking. For the most part, everything about RDR is top-notch.

It’s a rated M game, and there is blood and gore, lots of violence, some smoking, alcohol use, and the occasional off-color remark. There’s a bit of nudity; nothing that will shock anyone who knows anything about Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise.

In Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar San Diego display a true understanding of what makes westerns fun, and what gamers would most like to do in a western game. Fans of spaghetti westerns or other old Clint Eastwood films will find much that resonates.

This is an iconic game. If you like westerns at all, you will not be sorry you invested in it.

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