Review by Bill Wood

"An unforgettable, Spaghetti Western-style actionfest"

I'm going to say it right here and now -- I absolutely love Rockstar's Red Dead Revolver (and I don't throw words like that around lightly when it comes to videogames). Truth be told, I wasn't expecting to like RDR much at all. I'm not a big fan of Westerns, and the reviews for RDR aren't exactly glowing. Therefore I delved into RDR with relatively low expectations, and came away very pleasantly surprised.

But before we get in to the review proper, let's get one thing out of the way right now; RDR is NOT GTA in a Wild West setting. If you're expecting free-roaming, non-linear gameplay, prepare to be disappointed. RDR is strictly level-based, but never fear. It still rocks from beginning to end.

Surprisingly, I've seen a bit of complaining about the "distorted" graphic style of RDR. And yes, it's supposed to be that way. From the harsh glare of the midday sun to the washed-out, "grainy film" effects that dominate the cutscenes, RDR assimilates the classic Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western atmosphere to a "T". Let me put it this way -- RDR isn't a digitally remastered DVD, it's a 30-year-old film reel hiding in the back of an old UHF station. Dig it.

Rockstar knew exactly what they were going for by enthusing RDR with Ennio Morricone Western themes. Much in the way the car radio in GTA3 provides an important aesthetic element for that game, Morricone's classic Western music provides the perfect soundtrack for RDR's Wild West action. The other in-game sounds are decent. Spurs clink and gunshots penetrate the air with an aura of authenticity. The voice acting is passable, if forgettable.

This is where I had some issues with RDR. For the most part, it's an enjoyable run n'gun action fest. There are times when you can choose to hide and snipe (ala Metal Gear Solid), or you can simply come out with guns-a-blazin'. There are even other times when you'll be called upon to ride horses and man mounted machine guns. The gameplay can be diverse, and it's a ton of fun, but where RDR gets frustrating is when the awkward camera comes into play. For instance, the barroom brawl is unforgivably bad, as enemies you can't even see onscreen will grab you and toss you about. Boo.

In the end, it's hard for me to say exactly what makes RDR such a standout game. The graphics are merely passable (compared to other videogames and not the film genre it was meant to emulate), controls can be frustrating depending on the objectives, and the camera can be even worse. But for a lack of a better term, RDR simply has IT. The aura, the attitude and authenticity of a Spaghetti Western, it's all here. Rockstar nailed the Spaghetti Western genre, and it's a deadshot right between the eyes. Bang! Bang!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 05/15/04

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