By Deranged Midget 29 Comments
It's painfully evident that throughout the past decade, the Western setting has never had a chance to prosper nor successfully break out into video games. There were various attempts, be it open world adventures or first-person shooters, but none truly garnered the success to become a fully fledged franchise. Not until Rockstar took to the genre and completely revolutionized to a level never before seen.
Acquiring the rights to the Red Dead IP, Rockstar began working on the next installation. They set out to create another open-world epic and replicate the success they've had on the massively popular Grand Theft Auto franchise. Red Dead Redemption is the unofficial sequel to Red Dead Revolver and is only relatable through the name alone. Redemption is a stand-alone title with it's own set of characters, brand new setting and revamped control scheme.
Taking precedence in a fictional Old West that borders itself with Mexico in the year 1911, Red Dead Redemption follows the story of the retired outlaw John Marston as he's blackmailed by Government agents interested in hunting down the remaining members of Marston's old posse. Forced to obey their demands due to the Government holding his family against their will, he sets out to find and stop his ex-gang members while enlisting the help of various unstable and terribly misguided characters that are akin to Rockstar's other open-world outings.
If you're familiar at all with any of the GTA titles, then you'll feel right at home with Redemption. The mission structure and distribution is done by the interaction of the world's key NPC's as you complete a series of tasks to progress through the story. There is no specific order in which you have to complete these missions nor is there any "right" way in finishing the tasks. The only limitation being that certain areas of the map are connected to the completion of the missions themselves but soon becomes completely accessible. The missions themselves are extreme joy rides ranging from hijacking a train, storming a fort, or sneaking through settlements disguised as common-folk. It's a incredibly deep experience and you'll find yourself quickly immersed in the vast world and it's ridiculous characters. It's not without it's faults though. There are a few irritating missions at hand, those specifically which are escort missions where you have to keep a VIP safe from harm while fighting off hordes of enemies. These don't occur that often but they are a nuisance and an undesirable addition to the game.
You'll have no shortage of side missions either as you're given absolute freedom in whether to complete them or not. They range from gold seeking travels to hunting down certain animals, playing card games, rounding up farm animals and even finding specific plant ingredients to create vile potions. They all take a massive advantage of the incredibly vast map that you'll take pleasure exploring and is all incredibly detailed and modelled. In comparison to Rockstar's GTA games, RDR is a lot larger while containing far emptier space in between the smaller towns you'll come across. The game counters this with it's multiple environments which are all beautifully designed, ranging from sprawling Western deserts, snowy mountain tops and lively grasslands. You'll even find yourself stopping every now and then to merely take in the view.
As with GTA, Redemption re-introduces a "Wanted" system in order to keep peace to the world. If you start disobeying the law and shooting up a settlement, you'll receive stars which dictates how serious you're actions are and the repercussions that must be met. A bounty will appear in your name and the local law enforcement and bandits alike will come gunning for you.
Rockstar introduces a new mechanic known as "Dead Eye". Each kill you rack up will fill your meter and once it's high enough, it can be activated at your command to slow down time and target your enemies for some quick kills. It's a fantastic addition to the gameplay and while it might make combat a little easier, it's a mechanic that never get's old and helps significantly when hunting animals. The gameplay itself is well in-line with Rockstar's previous open world installations. You control the character with a third-person perspective and the shooting can be controlled via free-aim or the game's recommended lock-on system that was built up through previous GTA titles. Thankfully, the movement has taken a turn for the better as it's far more free-flowing and lacks the clunky feel that it's predecessors possessed which will allow for an overall more enjoyable experience. Yet still, the movement remains to be the game's weakest point. It isn't as free flowing as you'd hope for it be especially when compared to other open world games such as Saints Row 3, Just Cause 2, InFamous or Crackdown.
Then we have the multiplayer. Surprisingly, when pitted up against a game so focused on it's lengthy campaign, the online component is one of the most addictive experiences you can ever hope to encounter. As opposed to the common matchmaking system that the common game might contain, Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer lobby is the world itself. That's right, Rockstar has thrown out your traditional match-making system in favour of the world that they built being the system itself. You're able to run around the entire map with up to 15 other players to your hearts content. This doesn't eliminate the basic game-modes though. Whenever you want to engage in Redemptions versions of team-deathmatch, capture the flag, territory wars, etc, all you have to do is locate a point on the map that becomes the playing ground for your mode of choice. An in-depth rewards system records your progression throughout multiplayer, unlocking weapon skins, character skins and even the steed you choose to ride in the online world you'll soon begin to call home.
Being that the game was released over two years ago, it's fair share of downloadable content has been released since then. Three of the the four packs are multiplayer additions such as the various card games available in campaign, characters skins and weapons. The final pack that was released is the critically acclaimed "Undead Nightmare" pack targeted towards the campaign. It's a stand-alone experience which requires not the completion of the main story and is separately selected from the title screen. At this point, you can purchase all four DLC's in a single package at an affordable price and they are highly recommended for those who'll be spending dozens of hours with Red Dead Redemption.
Rockstar has once again managed to knock it out of the park, making what was once undesirable, now the most enriched and discussed setting off the past generation. The story will keep you engrossed for over 20 hours at least and if that doesn't satisfy you, the near limitless options and freedom that the multiplayer offers will. This is one of the most complete packages of this current generation and the best rendition of the genre yet.