"Worthy of a rental at the least if you’re a fan of the Clint Eastwood Westerns"

Introduction-

I am always up for a Western movie, or a game based on a Western. I'm talking about great films like Tombstone. However, this really disappointed me, I mean, it's not horrible, but certainly not what I expected out of a Rockstar game. So let's head out to the field and see what it's like to be the Red Dead Revolver.

Story-

What I like the most about the Old West is how simple life was. No computers, no video games, no phones. You had your reputation, your prestige, and you have your sidearm. The law was also so simple then, and problems got solved down the barrel of a six-shooter. That's where you come in. Your name is Red, and you're about to find yourself on an adventure you didn't want to be on. You're a young boy, out on the plains with your ma in the cabin your pa built. Dad comes home from wherever he was, and you get some quality time in with him. While down at the shooting range learning how to handle your gun, a band of bad guys comes to visit and eventually guns down your Mum and Dad. Your skills with your little six-shooter keeps you alive, just long enough to watch your parents die. And then you become a loner, going from town to town looking for the men who did this. From here on, your gun will do all your talking. Umm, one quick note about the story; don't even bother to try and follow it, there really isn't much of a story to the game. It seems more like simply playing stages than following a storyline.

Gameplay-

It's more little nagging things than anything Earth-shattering. But when they add up, the little nagging things simply don't make the game as fun as you'd want it to be. And it's not for a lack of effort on Rockstar's part. Throughout the game you are going to find and meet some different characters. A couple of them you will be able to directly control at some point in the game; and they have different strengths. For example, Red himself has a great shot and can take a few hits, but also can only hold one gun at a time. The next character you meet and control is an English guy named Jack Swift- No I am not making that up. Anyway Jack is not quite the shot that Red is, but he can handle two guns at a time John Woo-style. You can't switch characters on the fly, it only happens at different parts of the story. Ok, so far so good right? The controls are fine, as RDR is your standard third-person shooter, although you can choose a first-person mode if you like. Anyway, left stick moves and strafes, right stick turns and looks up/down. You can jump and duck down as well. Aiming and firing your weapons are split up between the left and right triggers; pulling the left trigger (or L1) pulls up an aiming reticle which you then aim with the right stick, and then fire with the right trigger (R1). While aiming you can use the jump button to roll and dodge out of the way. As you pick up more weapons like revolvers, shotguns, knives, and things, you can switch back and forth on the fly between them. And if you have a shotgun or rifle of some sort, you can zoom in on someone to get a better shot. You can even take control of free-standing gatling guns if you can get to them. Sounds easy enough right? Well, here is where I have a couple issues. One, you can also hide behind and strafe against walls and other objects, which you can then peek around a corner and shoot a bad guy. Well, this is not quite as easy as it sounds, You try getting up on a wall, then having to aim and shoot with two different triggers. It gets confusing. And sometimes I'll come off the wall or our from behind that object when I don't want to and become an open target. It's hard sometimes to keep all this straight while running down the back end of a train with three or four people shooting at you. Speaking of that, I have found some really cheesy glitches in the game that have caused me to both get killed and not have to do any work to beat a boss character you'll come across in every level. For example in one level there is this guy that comes after you that can blow himself up, along with you of course, that chases you around this deserted mini-town. Well, he was really easy to beat once I jumped up onto the roof of an old rotted out house and he kept running underneath me and knocking himself down by exploding. Problem is, I didn't get touched. So I pointed my gun to the ground and just kept shooting him until he died. Yeah that was challenging. In another level I am on a speeding train trying to protect the engineer. Guys are jumping on the train and seem to be impervious to my bullets. They proceed to gun down the driver even though I am standing point blank and firing bullets into their chest. Oh yeah and don't get surrounded whatever you do. There is no indicator to tell you where people are or who is shooting at you from where which is not very helpful.

There are a couple other small but cool things that Rockstar did to RDR that add a little different element to an otherwise standard shooter. You have a special shooting feature called the Dead-Eye. It's like Bullet-time, but with lock-on capability. Everytime you kill a bad guy, your Dead-Eye meter fills up. The more full it is, the more damage you can do.

Just like in the movies, you and your opponent (and sometimes more than one) stand across from each other and draw iron in the ultimate showdown of speed. The fastest draw generally won. The same happens here. And finally, there is your share of unlockable items in the game. Killing boss characters will net you money that you can buy new weapons with, or items that will unlock showdowns and pages in a picture journal. That's pretty worthless in the grand scheme of things, but it's there nonetheless.

Presentation-

Here is a place I am torn on. When I see a game like Midnight Club 2, or Max Payne 2 it amazes me what Rockstar can do with a game. RDR is not quite the high quality I have come to expect from them, I'm not saying it's bad, but it could have been better. In fact, I see a lot of that familiar style and look in RDR that I see in Grand Theft Auto like stiff and short animations, and a general lack of a frame rate above 30. It's hard to explain but it's as though you can see a little of GTA in this game and know who made it even if I didn't tell you it was Rockstar. On the good side, I do like how they were able to make the game look authentic Western, especially in the cut-scenes and backgrounds. I like how during the in-game movies you see flashes of black and white, or lines on the screen like in an old reel-to-reel silent movie. And there is a level of authenticity to the way towns are set up, and weapons are detailed.

The music is very good, and authentic to the style of the game. I love Western movie themes and RDR is full of them. I wish I could say the same about the dialogue. Red doesn't talk much. But when he does they try to make him sound like Clint Eastwood. Doesn't quite have the same draw.

Conclusion-

A game with the hype that Red Dead Revolver had should be able to back it up on the screen. But the game falls short a little in some areas that I wouldn't say kill the game, but will cause some question marks or frustration. I'd say overall it's an okay game, but nothing more than an average. And here's an idea for next time, how about some online play? Anyway, I would say Red Dead is a rental for sure, but nothing more than that. It's just too average a game for me.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 04/17/06


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