Review by arachnidd

"Coming from someone who hated GTA IV and the first RDR - this strikes gold."

If you haven't heard by now, Red Dead Redemption is the latest Rockstar offering. Hyped like the Second Coming, its from the same studio that brought us the 2004 western failure Red Dead Revolver, which was easily surpassed by the short but sweet Gun in 2006.

Before we start let me state that I absolutely hated GTA IV. To me it got high reviews for the sheer variety of activities, but the actual gameplay itself was not enjoyable. No checkpoints, annoying to keep relationships with NPCs, unlikable characters, slow movement, a pain to evade cops, and most of all driving was no fun. RDR fixes these problems. Mission checkpoints, no more friendships, and most importantly fast-paced action.

Story - 7/10
You play as John Marston, a former outlaw in the 1900s who has to hunt down his old gang so his family can be safe. There's three acts in America and Mexico. In each act you can travel to the previous area. Along the way you do favors for characters such as sheriffs, professors, rebels in order to find the guys you're looking for. The 2nd is my favorite part, you travel to Mexico where you are caught in the midst of a civil war. So you end up helping the Mexican army and the rebels, whoever helps you find your old gang. However I found myself skipping the majority of cutscenes because they tend to be long-winded and not get to the point right away.

Graphics/Sound - 9/10
There is music in some parts, but I didn't really notice a problem. In GTA IV a lot of times I would change radio stations just to be entertained. The environment has everything from snowed out hills to the cruel desert sun. This game immerses you in its world like Assassin's Creed and Warcraft.

Gameplay - 9/10
The most important part. All I can say is the action is so much fun. The missions are lengthy. Similar to Max Payne, you have a bar to slow down time and shoot enemies. Some weapons you use are pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, cannons, shotguns, lassos.

The health is similar to Call of Duty, there is no bar. The screen will flash red if you get shot and you will breathe heavily, then you have to take cover in order to gain it back.

RDR has an honor system so you choose to be good or bad depending on your actions. Robbing will give you bad honor, while saving a woman from a coyote attack is good. If you are bounty hunting, you can either kill the target just lasso him and bring him to the sheriff. NPCs will treat you likewise.

RDR has 19 stranger missions, which aren't part of the main story. It's just people you come across in the world who ask you to do favors. For example one wants you to get the deed to a property. You can either shoot/tie up the owner or buy it from him. Needless to say I chose the former.

There are plenty of random events such as a woman on the road waves at you to stop. But it's really an outlaw attack! Or a train robbery of outlaws that you can either join or shoot them all for honor. Or a random duel. You can also hunt animals if you want to get away from shooting people. Or you can play games such as poker, although the cutscenes of others at the table (which you can skip mostly) are long.

You can use the campsite in your inventory to save and fast travel between cities. In the beginning it seems like it doesn't work but once you buy the improved campsite from the general store you can pretty much fast travel anywhere.

This was not a problem for me, but some main story missions are meant to immerse you in the Western world. So in other words once in a while you just might herd cattle or lasso wild horses instead of something exciting.

Replay
You can replay each completed mission anytime. There are plenty of achievements that will take time to unlock. If you went straight for the story you can get it done in under 15 hours. Most likely you will want to explore. I played 25 hours with 83% completed and 22/48 achievements. Multiplayer will definitely extend the lifespan, I don't have Live so I can't judge but RDR is 2nd in popularity so that must mean something.

Pros
So much to do
Lengthy missions
Random events
Shooting is plenty of fun
Duels are great
Can choose to be good or bad

Cons
Coyotes are scary
Story cutscenes are too long
Minigame cutscenes are annoying
Unlike GTA you can't buy prostitutes


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/29/10

Game Release: Red Dead Redemption (US, 05/18/10)


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