Review by DandyQuackShot

"Grand Theft Stagecoach"

Red Dead Redemption has everything you ever wanted in a Western themed game. In an effort to wrangle in the last great fictional territory state of New Austin, John Marston is tasked with taking care of a few loose ends for the federal government or lose his newly found peaceful life as a homesteader. Set in 1911, Red Dead Redemption packs in all of the fun of the dying Wild West as civilization and outlaws compete in a very subtle war in the name of progress and tradition. Rockstar has developed a sandbox game that truly capitalizes on all of the previous westerns made to date while keeping with the similar game play style of the Grand Theft Auto series.

How the West Was Won...Or Lost

The Red Dead story is very much a straight shot in having very colorful characters and a respectable main character in John Marston. Once you think you are about to finally catch up to the bad guys you are going for you find out that you have to go through a whole army of other bandits and criminals and even soldiers to get back on the trail. Corruption is not as much a theme in this game as it is about good people doing nothing and trying to get by with as little confrontation as possible. John ends up having to round up a rag tag team of an Irish drunk, a snake oil salesman, and a near toothless grave robber to pull off an attack on a fort...and that's only the beginning! On the downside, you cannot really become an ultimate bad guy in how this game positions the main character. Sure you can pull off some incredible crimes, but in the end John is a former gang member trying to make a decent name for himself and so you are not as tempted as much to shoot up a saloon. That you can't kill the main characters off anyway.

Haven't Had This Much Fun Huntin' Since the Oregon Trail!

Red Dead Redemption's game play stands out big time with the sandbox style that is set up. You can choose to keep moving on to the main characters to continue the single player story, go off to hunt wild game, enjoy a scenic train or stagecoach ride, or skip to some multiplayer action online. As you might have guessed it there is a lot to do in this game and everything is engrossing.

The Second Amendment is exercised by all in New Austin and gun play is very if not extremely too easy. You have a little white dot for a crosshairs and John's aim is always true. You can get great shots off as enemies run from cover to cover or peek out from behind cover. The guns all have a time and place for their use as indoor shootouts end in bloodbaths if you are packing a shotgun and the Dead Eye mode easily allows you to set targets before letting loose in duels and other challenges. Dead Eye's also real good for times when you got multiple bad guys that catch you in the open. I have to say though, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood gets the ultimate win on the duels, but of course Red Dead wins in every other aspect.

Controls are easy to use but the horse riding will take a few minutes to get used to. Once you obtain the lasso though you will be dragging poor unwilling victims through the hot desert in no time.

Hunting is very fun as there is plenty of game to run into and some that are even running other people. You can skin the hides of your kills and make a decent living off the fur and meat trade. Oh, and you don't have a limit on what you can take back to the wagon. Side missions are brought to your attention almost at random as you run into various people needing your help. Most of the time you can do some people some favors and gain a good reputation, but other times you just want to take it out on them. There are plenty of guilty pleasures to partake of in Red Dead even for a married man like John Marston. My personal favorite involves the ultimate classic of catching a person and hog tying them up and placing them on the rail road just doesn't get any better than that!

One Last Sunset

Nothing is more stunning about Red Dead Redemption than the graphics and cinematics. It's all about the detail in this game from the gritty to the awesome beauty of the setting. Everything is so detailed that I doubt a game can get any more realistic than this. The environments are so detailed and beautiful that walking and riding to distant objectives becomes much more enjoyable than fast traveling to that location (which is quite convenient though). There is a lot of great music and dialogue in the game but what amazed me the most was how detailed the cinematics were. Mouth movements seems to have been almost mastered in Red Dead and the characters' emotions and reactions play out in very realistic movements.

It is all about detail, detail, detail in Red Dead from the serene and expansive landscapes to the types of horses you can purchase right down to the cowboy who runs behind a rock to take a quick leak. And partner, detail pays off big time.

Change is Good, If It's For the Better

For replay value you won't have fully experienced this game until months from now after beginning to play. There is so much to enjoy and explore that Red Dead will take up hours in simply playing around. With single player you have plenty of places to explore and bandit hideouts to clear out. On top of that you can hunt and master your marksmanship skills or take in a game of cards like Blackjack or Poker and even have some friendly games of horsehoes. There is a completion bar that you can view to judge your single player progress and after almost twelve hours I only had reach 34% so you can see how this game can be.

On top of the single player you have a whole different world in the online multiplayer. Here you can team up with a friend to take out a hideout to level up your donkey riding greenhorn and then gank your friend for additional XP. The multiplayer is much more cutthroat online but it is just as fun. You can challenge other players to all kinds of different games, but if you are able to find a band of friends that won't kill each other or run off on their own then you will get the ultimate experience out of the multiplayer.

Single player achievements are hidden so that you are protected from achievement spoilers with the story. Most of those have to do with completing segments of the main story while the bonus achievements can be viewed or are unlocked in the multiplayer. There is a social club thing that I did not really check out but it has to do with the downloadable content and if you bought the game then you get access to it with a scratch off card. But as for me, there is enough of Red Dead Redemption to last until the next major releases in the fall.

Final Recommendation 10/10

If Red Dead Redemption is the last Western themed video game ever made then this genre has truly died a noble death. The Wild West has been served some tremendous justice. If your grandpa played video games you would find him during family reunions playing this game. The controversy surrounding Rockstar and Red Dead Redemption is rather interesting because unlike the Grand Theft Auto series you have a much more toned down Rockstar game even though all the traditional violence and suggested theme elements are present. Nothing gets too out of hand though. You get penalized heavily for doing something wrong if you don't get shot up for doing it. Hands down, Red Dead is probably the ultimate Western and I would raise that to saying that Red Dead Redemption is the ultimate sandbox game. Check me or fold.

Reviewer's Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Originally Posted: 05/24/10

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

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