Synyster Graves

Red Dead Redemption

by on Jul.10, 2010, under Xbox 360

Now personally speaking I hate cowboy films, they bore the utter crap out of me, I suppose with the exception of Young Guns and possibly Butch Cassidy, but I’d heard so much about this game, I was intrigued and had to find out what all the fuss was about.

Red Dead Redemption is the sequel to Red Dead Revolver and is set in colonial America circa 1911. You take the role of John Marston, a former outlaw gang member sent by the FBI to hunt down and kill his former comrades as the Department of Justice have his wife and child in their custody. So you begin the game on the hunt for former comrade Bill Williamson, of whom left you to die during a robbery. Understandably peeved, Marston confronts him in Fort Mercer only to be shot again and left to die. Deja vu? You come round in the care of country hand Bonnie MacFarlane with her heinously irritating hick accent and plethora of missions which involve you helping out on farm, and this is where the playing interaction begins.

While this game was made by the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, the similarities are obvious, substituting stealing cars for stealing horses and/or commandeering stagecoaches which handle appallingly due to the fact that they have a larger turning circle than an orca and the horses are about as fit as Emile Heskey. The game is a sandbox, which is much to my favour and has so much to do which you can do at your own pace, similar to GTA. The main difference it has to be said, chronology aside, is the variety of the missions. Where GTA’s entire backbone lay with every mission involving killing someone, RDR’s missions are very varied ranging from herding nefariously retarded cattle to playing poker. The missions really do help you immerse yourself as John Marston and you get sucked into the whole cowboy thing very quickly. It has to be said that it is a very slow start but once the story gains momentum, the immersion of the game is fantastic.

The combat is very similar to GTA with the whole cover and shoot dynamic as you find yourself popping up from behind cover and capping gangs of outlaws with deadly precision. This becomes even more precise with the Dead Eye skill. This allows the screen to go into Matrix-style bullet time a la Max Payne with the ability to mark your targets before going berserk with the trigger. This was particularly fun as I could create a mass explosion of limbs when it came out of Dead Eye much like watching the aftermath of a Hundred Crack Fist of The North Star. It’s also has to be noted that it is very satisfying, certainly with the head-shots as the generally fluidity of the combat feels very organic and natural. Another very original weapon used in the single player portion of the game is the lasso. Dragging people off their horse is amazing but even better is that you can hogtie them. Maybe I’m sick (well I know I am) but leaving a hogtied bozo to die at the hands of a speeding train is very satisfying, as dastardly laughter echoes around…

The missions are not only confined to the story missions but also have the side missions of collecting bounties, doing random tasks for strangers and ambient challenges, the latter of which can be time consuming and frustrating. While every sandbox has some sort of collection mission, RDR gets you running all over America picking flowers, killing wild animals, finding treasure and shooting off people’s hats. Completing all of these to level 10 will unlock a perk which helps you in your crusade to get your family back.

There also a lot of side games which over time get very annoying but at least they’re not compulsory like in GTA4. The have horseshoes, five finger fillet, blackjack, arm wrestling and poker. The latter I have spent many hours playing it but when it gets to high stakes the computer massive cheats all the time and pulls out ridiculous hands which gets stupid after a while. It’s a bit like all the poker games you play online against bots. They always seem to pull an amazing trick out of nowhere because it’s a bit pot.

The multiplayer aspect is the other massive strength which this game has. You can join a public multiplayer which is populated by DICKS who seem hell bent on ruining a game for you and your friends, but that’s where the achievements lie. Alternatively you can posse up with up to 8 friends and do missions against the computer. This is FANTASTIC. The co-op immersion is brilliant and doing gang hideouts or even just messing about and fighting the law is so much fun.

The only minor gripes I have with this game are the fact that like Just Cause 2, the detection ability of the lawmen is ridiculously good. I got bored and randomly shot a straggler in the middle of nowhere, I’m talking the most remotest of canyons imaginable and yet I somehow instantaneously got a bounty on my head. Clearly I was being tracked by a posse of Predators because they somehow found me in the middle of this remote location and managed to surround me so that I had to come out shooting. It was fun don’t get me wrong but again the NPC ability to see through solid objects like mountains for example provides more frustration.

The other annoyance in the game is the heavy reliance on cutscenes, like Metal Gear Solid syndrome. You can actually sit there and get bored leafing through about nine minutes of crap dialogue before you can actually get on with the mission. You can skip the scene but I found that immediately I had to do something and since I skipped the scene I had no idea what was going on! This is also true for dismounting, hogtying and skinning of animals results in an arduous cutscene which gets really irritating after a while. If you’re trying to do something quickly, the obligatory cutscene will fuck you up most of the time. NPC conversations are a bit OTT as well. Usually during a mission when you travel from one location to another the NPC with you WILL NOT SHUT THE HELL UP and you’ll end up travelling to your destination with some awful diatribe of just utter shite in one ear. But in all honesty it’s quite hard to pick holes in this game.

In summation, Red Dead Redemption is an all round polished masterpiece of a video game, with brilliant aspects in both single and multiplayer. Seeing that this is a huge hit for Rockstar, this is safe to say this is the game that Grand Theft Auto 4 should have been.

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