Review by Soldier_0_Cross
"Some games aren't just meant to be played, they're pieces of art to be experienced, they become testament for what future games will strive for."
There's always been something about the western frontier era that people have liked. From classic Spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood, to modern day shows and movies like Deadwood and 3:10 to Yuma. Given the sense of freedom, lawlessness and overall just badass appeal of the genre it often comes across as surprising that more games based around the era aren't made. Sure, we had the Call of Jaurez games, GUN, Red Dead Revolver and whatever else themed around it here and there. But there was never a definitive game that could define the era and genre in such a way to make a game and experience and true sense of being apart of the world of the wild west.
So one had to be made, and Rockstar decided to take on that task. They already hit the western genre before with Red Dead Revolver, but it didn't have a sense of freedom or much setting other than that it was set in a Wild West era. So they took the framework of the popular Grand Theft Auto series and placed it in a totally different time period and setting. So since I brought this up, and before I start the actual review. I want to point out, that this game is not at all GTA in the Old West. It is it's own game in style, presentation, feel and scenery. The game controls the same and it's paced in a similar way, and that's about it.
As I'm writing this there is a definite reluctance in me to do it. This game is in all honesty a Tour De Force its an astounding game on so many levels and I want to be able to tell it justice. There are certain games that go beyond what your preconceived notions of how a game should be played, that are pushing genre boundaries, making an epic grand scale adventure or especially in this games case; making an open breathing world. The kind of game where you can escape into for hours on end and completely lose yourself in it's world. Red Dead Redemption does this and for that reason, it is a definite contender for Game of The year, as well as landmark in its genre. I typically write reviews where I separate each aspect of the game and then give each of those a rating of X/10. I don't feel I would effectively do a game such as this justice if I were to speak of it in such a manner, because it is less of a game and in so many more ways a masterpiece of art. A truly one of a kind experience that anyone should feel privileged to be apart of.
The story sets you out as reformed outlaw John Marston who has been tasked by the government with bringing in his old gang. He's a man trying to escape his past but it's constantly catching up with him and all he wants to do is settle down with his family. The characters in the game are all very memorable, whether its because you think they're snakes, totally insane, hilarious or just downright badass. The voice acting for all of them is superbly done. The entire story of the game plays out as a classic western tale of greed, betrayal, law, lawlessness, and pretty much every western cliché in the book. And yet, it works perfectly, the story isn't an epic grand scale thing, at the end of it all its about a man who just wants to be with his family again and the emotion behind Marston's motivations is felt by the player throughout the entire game.
The game presents itself flawlessly, absolutely flawlessly. The game has among the most gorgeous graphics I've scene in an open world game. The textures are solid, the shadowing is well done the detail is just great. As good as the graphics are, the real presentation of this game is all about the atmosphere. If you have ANY attraction to the wild west theme your going to love this game. Riding along the dirt roads on your horse as your ride up a mountain side, and you stop to look at the sun as it sets (it looks amazing). The fact that I can lose myself in this game and do nothing but riding on my horse for hours says something for how much work Rockstar put into creating a full open world that you can truly feel.
To add even more to the open world experience the free roaming stays fresh by giving you random encounters. While riding your horse through the plains you can encounter any number of events that happen randomly, and how you deal with them is entirely up to you. If you want to help the stage coach being attacked by bandits you can, or you can help the bandits, or do nothing at all. Do you want to help that lady being chased by wolves or lasso her and let the wolves get her. All the things you do in the game affect your honour, you can play as a the good guy and do nothing but help people along your travels or you can live as a ruthless outlaw living off of the misfortune of others. It's entirely up to you and it changes how the NPCs in the game are going to interact and see you. This is unlike the GTA games where everyone views you the same regardless of actions. Another interesting new concept is the bounty and wanted system. Instead of committing some crimes and just getting away from them and losing your entire wanted level. The bounty on your head will stay until you go to jail, get killed, or pay off your bounty.
The game plays and controls like a GTA game but as I mentioned before, the game is not Grand Theft Horse. The game may control the same, but the feel of the game is completely different and you'll only fully understand that when you play it yourself and see how they truly separate Red Dead Redemption from the GTA franchise. It mostly comes through in the way the game presents itself, there are certain things that a modern setting can do that RDR cannot and other things that an old west setting can do that GTA can never do.
One of the most debated areas of the game is the multiplayer, some people love it, others can't stand it. I think it's allot of fun and insanely addictive. It essentially places you in the games full map with up to 15 friends, this act's as the lobby for the other modes like death match, grab the flag or whatever else. The modes are fun but the free roam lobby is just really cool. Riding around the map with your friends doing whatever is just allot of fun and a good source of play for people who enjoy a fun multiplayer experience. I recommend getting into it.
With all this being said, I'll end with this. Red Dead Redemption is a masterpiece unto itself, it's an astoundingly told story with a great atmosphere, memorable characters, addictive game play and with so much to do. Really I could talk forever on all the stuff there is to do in Red Dead Redemption, killing time playing poker, collecting bounties, hunting, challenges, breaking horses, exploring the land or just plain causing mayhem and carnage but I won't. This game is such a masterfully put together piece of art and anyone should give it a chance, it's beautiful and astounding. A strong contender for game of the year, and one of the best games I have played this decade.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/21/10
Game Release: Red Dead Redemption (US, 05/18/10)
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