Game Review: Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption blazes in at a Busy Gamer 3

First Glance:

Play a rough and tumble cowboy in the final days of the Wild West. Shootouts in the street, breaking horses, bounty hunting, train robberies, pretty much whatever you can think of to do in a time when cars are just appearing in the world.

The Short Story:

You play as Marston, a former outlaw who is trying to walk the straight and narrow after having misspent his youth in a gang. Marston got out after being left for dead by his former compatriots and has eked out a living only to have his past return to haunt him. In order to set things straight and return to the life he has picked out, he must saddle up one last time and hunt down his former friends, not for revenge but to satisfy the government agents who have forced him to work for him.

The Score:

I don’t know that Rockstar believes in short games. The Single Player experience is phenomenal but is going to take a large chunk of your time if you want to fully enjoy it. The multiplayer, however, is very well put together and may be worth the price of admission on its own. The storyline is utterly engaging, the graphics are gorgeous, and the voice acting is stellar. But with so much to do in the single player, the Busy Gamer will have a hard time squeezing in single player time and staying on top of the learning curve. Quick games abound in multiplayer, however, and if you’re careful, you can squeeze in a decent play session with a limited amount of time. As such, Red Dead Redemption scores a 3 on the Busy Gamer scale.

Body of review:

I can’t say I know many people who played the first game in the Red Dead series, Red Dead Revolver. In fact, I know of only one person that can say they beat it. I didn’t feel the draw of the first game after renting it but after seeing the ads and videos of the gameplay for Red Dead Redemption, I was on board.

Forget the fact that this is the same company that brought you the Grand Theft Auto series. There’s very few similarities to this game and the GTA franchise. Yes, you have the choice of being a hero or a villain as you make your way through this rendition of the Wild West and instead of cars, you can steal horses. This is something completely different.

You start off knowing very little about your character John Marston except that you’re “escorted” to a train and set on your way by some very official looking creeps. You find out only a bit at a time about our protagonist as you show up in a town called New Austin and set out to hunt down some former cohorts. As you start to learn more about the character, you’ll have a hard time not coming to like him.

You'll be doing a lot of this if you want a decent horse...

You’ll make choices as you play through the game, like whether you’re going to shoot up the town or serve as a force of good. You can spend a lot of time just on the side missions that are available if you want a break from the main story or you can focus on finishing out the story. Either way, you’re in for a hell of a ride.

As you set out to hunt down the members of the gang Marston used to run with, you’ll be riding your horse through a lot of wilderness. There’s a lot to see, whether it’s a sunset in the desert, looking over a valley from a cliff, or admiring a waterfall. And as you journey through the world, you’ll come across chances to make a name for yourself. There are strangers who ask for your help and you can decide in almost every one of the missions how your reputation is going to be built.

For instance, you’re riding along and you see a stagecoach off in the distance being pursued by gunmen. You can choose to assist the stagecoach driver by shooting the bandits or join in on the fun and help the bandits. Based on your decision, you’ll gain or lose honor which will determine how the people of the land will react to you. Do primarily good deeds and people will react to you with hellos and cheaper prices. Do the devil’s work and you may see townsfolk running indoors when you ride into their little town.

Whichever way you choose to live your life as Marston, you progress through the game hot on the heels of three former compatriots. As the story progresses, you find that Marston would rather let bygones be bygones and simply live out his life with his wife and his son on the farm they’ve managed to build. But a government agency has determined that the former outlaws you ran with are simply too much of a threat to the “new” way of life, a way of life that is determined to see the end of the Wild West days.

"Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."

Technology isn’t readily apparent in the game. You see a few “cars” as you ride around but they aren’t prevalent at all until late in the game. The train is alive and well and whether you decide to ride it or rob it, you can see that this truly is the last days of the cowboy.

Even your weapons are a reflection of the time period. You have six shooters and lever action rifles early in the game, only coming across more “advanced” weaponry as you proceed through the story. You’ll finally see the beginnings of the modern semi-automatic pistol when you finally progress far enough into the story but for the most part, you’re going top spend a lot of time reloading after six shots.

The Dead Eye meter becomes an important part of the game as your progress through it. Often you’ll find yourself badly outnumbered with little or no cover to be had. That’s where learning how to shoot in Dead Eye Targeting System comes in handy. You’ll be able to slow down time when you enter Dead Eye mode and take the time to line up some truly impressive shots. You can disarm several opponents all at once or shoot them all in the face before their guns barely clear their holsters. It’s a truly beautiful thing to line up a series of spectacular shots to unleash before your meter runs out.

I’d initially dreaded the idea of having to ride a horse to get anywhere in the game but I found very quickly that one of the parts I looked forward to when I played was the long rides. You’ll see wildlife running around (which you can kill and skin, more on that in a moment), beautiful scenery that has been rendered with such detail that the sunsets and sunrises are something to stop and watch. You’ll find other people riding around, sometimes you’ll be approached to assist someone or even have someone try to steal your horse. These are just more opportunities to increase your fame and affect your honor.

In the vein of Rockstar’s recent games, there are a ton of mini-games to be had throughout the world of Marston. You can sit in on a hand of poker or blackjack, play a game called Liar’s Dice, or pull out a knife and play Five Finger Fillet (think the scene in Aliens when Bishop goes high speed android with a knife and a Marine’s hand). You can even arm wrestle or throw down in a game of horseshoes.

These are the dangers of Red Dead Redemption. I’ve personally spent more time then I like to admit playing poke and horseshoes. And it isn’t even about the chance of winning money, which is helpful, but the fact that these mini-games are so well done that I want to play them. Some people like to ride on patrol and look for bad guys, I happen to like the cards and horseshoes.

"Dead or alive, you're coming with me."

You’ll find very quickly that if you want a decent horse, you’re going to have to get used to one of the other mini-games, a game of breaking horses. You’ll also have to get the hang of lassoing the horse in order to have the opportunity to break said horse. Once a horse is tamed, you’ll find that you can purchase a “deed” to the horse which means that even if your horse dies, you can “re-summon” the steed after a short time has passed by using the deed in your inventory.

You may also find yourself playing as a hunter. Yes, you can hunt, kill, and skin animals and make a decent amount of cash doing so. Selling hides and meat from animals not local to a town can be very lucrative. Hell, you can even go buffalo hunting if you want. And in and of itself, there’s an advantage to be had if you decide to spend time hunting or scavenging for plants.

There are four “ambient challenges” in the game, each with its own distinct advantage for making your way through ten levels in each challenge. There’s the Sharpshooter challenge which provides an increase in the ammo you find in the game once you’re halfway through and an increase to your Dead Eye meter’s refill speed when you finish it all out. There’s also the Master Hunter, Survivalist, and Treasure Hunter challenges with their unique rewards.

There’s a number of outlaw hideouts that you can choose to clear if you are so inclined. The benefits from these hideouts is typically a new weapon or merely bragging rights but they also go towards your reputation as a gunslinger.

You’ll find yourself wanting to know what happens next or wandering about the countryside looking for new sites or simply going on patrol to either rob or help the citizens of the world. This is one of those games that you can find yourself looking up from and wondering where the last four hours have gone. A danger for the Busy Gamer.

The multiplayer comes in a few flavors. There’s the Free Roam mode where you can gather weapons and accomplish a variation of the single player Challenges or team up to take down one of the outlaw hideouts. Free Roam in and of itself can tend to be a lot of fun if you’re playing with friends but that doesn’t encompass the multiplayer modes available.

There’s team play modes, free for all modes, and the aforementioned teaming up to run outlaw hideouts, all of which award “experience” as you play allowing you access to more playable characters (multiplayer only), different mounts, and better weapons. You’ll find no shortage of playability in the multiplayer modes.

So go ahead and dust off your spurs if you have some time to kill. You know you’ve been wanting to play Cowboys and Indians…

Gritskrieg – End of Line

Posted By Gritskrieg

Comments are closed.