Review by Scared89
The one genre void of a solid game...finally has a crown jewel
The Western genre has always been a genre that I have enjoyed. The genre has made actors and directors millions of dollars in movies. In a day and age where we have about 50 different World War II games and a growing trend of Modernized war games, we never could manage to grab a solid western title. Sure we have Call of Juarez, but that was only a decent game. The Western group of games needs a solid title that would be considered "Excellent" across all genres in terms of gameplay and story. Leave it to Rockstar to fill that desolate void.
Gameplay (10/10) - Red Dead Redemption plays like a solid game through and through. As a third person shooter, the game relies heavily on having excellent shooting mechanics and movement. Luckily, this game features some of the most satisfying shooting in a game. Whether you're firing your Winchester Repeater on horseback or using a Cattleman Revolver while hiding behind barrels...the game has excellent gameplay.
A massively interesting part of the game involves "random world events" that happen at all times during the game. You could be riding through the wilderness and a man will be chased by wolves. You have a choice of saving the man or watch his demise. Other times, you ride through a town and a woman could be in the process of being raped. These types of random events just add to the immersion of the game. Little details like this keep the game incredibly interesting.
With a game that does so much, it's a wonder that Rockstar could make everything flow so well. From the more important aspects like horseback riding to the lesser aspects like horseshoe throwing, everything plays very well. The cover and shoot mechanics play out like most games of this generation. You use the right bumper to hide behind any object and you can pop out and get a shot off and retreat behind. It works out very well and only in some cases does the game throw me into an unfavorable cover spot. Horseback riding takes a little time to get used to with the steering, but after an hour or so you will get the hang of it. The horses move and react very realistically, you could tell Rockstar wanted to make the riding as realistic as humanely possible.
Another important feature of the gameplay portion is the "Dead Eye" mode. As you kill enemies your Dead Eye meter fills up. With a filled Dead Eye meter you can enter a bullet time mode where you can paint enemies with targets and then begin firing one target after the other. It's a very neat feature and works very well with the dueling mechanics. In duels you and your opponent each have a meter that you try to fill by painting the most accurate and lethal targets on one another. It works very well and can be very satisfying watching you fire 6 rounds into a random dirty before he even hits the ground.
Controls for the game are, for the most part, fairly tight. The game features typical controls of a third person shooter. Hold left trigger to whip out your weapon and aim. Right trigger fires the weapon. X jumps, A runs, and Y is your typical action button. The only issues I've had with the controls are the horseback riding controls at first. However, after a little bit of time, the riding controls do become second nature.
I won't go into more detail about some of the other parts of the game since you could write an entire article on the different things you can do in this game. Poker plays very well and becomes more of a "skill" game considering the fact that you can cheat with a special outfit. Hunting works very well and it can be fun to skin animals and sell their pelts for money for guns and other items. Horseshoe throwing takes a bit of time at first, but it too can be rather fun. Bottom line is, Red Dead Redemption does a lot of things, and amazingly it does them all right. The gameplay is very engaging and incredibly exciting.
Story (8/10) - The story isn't the most original one I've seen, but it's a Western, what did you expect? You play a character named John Marston, a former outlaw who is on a road to redemption. He is employed by Federal Agents who threaten the safety of his family unless he tracks down his old gang members and kills them. It's your typical revenge story with a few twists and turns along the way. You will meet many memorable characters and each one seems unique in his or her own way. Overall I felt the story is fairly solid for a game that is as open world as this one is. Most times these games sacrifice story for the other aspects of the game. In closing, the story isn't the best I've seen, but it doesn't have to be. The rest of the game more than makes up for a not so stellar story.
Graphics (9/10) - Red Dead Redemption is a beautifully crafted game that, despite being hugely open world, challenges even the best looking games on the market. However, despite how gorgeous the game looks, it isn't the best out there. It definitely doesn't give you that incredible feeling the first time you exit the sewers in Oblivion. Nonetheless the environments and character models are brilliantly crafted. All of the animals and creatures that randomly populate the world look fairly realistic. Probably the best part of the graphics is the realistic physics engine. In this generation's video games, a realistic physics engine is a must. Animals take bullets differently depending on where they are shot, and the same applies for the people. If a man is shot in the leg, he will fall and begin to crawl or attempt to get back up. A headshot on a guy as he's on a horse will send him flying. However, there are hiccups as with most open world games. There's minor popping in issues. Sometimes if a man is shot on a horse his foot is meant to get caught in the saddle and the man dragged as he is dying. However, in a lot of cases the man will humorously spin around the horse in circles before being thrown. However, despite a few minor issues, the graphics are some of the best you can get for a game of this magnitude.
Sound (10/10) - The game's soundtrack is beautifully fitting. You'll hear all of the Western music cliches. Probably the best easter egg sound that proves Rockstar's attention to detail is the inclusion of the "Wilhelm scream." If you're not sure exactly what that is I recommend youtubing it. It's a scream that is used in many movies from the past and to current time. All sounds come across as being incredibly realistic. Horseshoes lightly walking on the desert floor, gun shots, people talking, etc. Also, it is important to point out that the voice acting is very good. Each character is distinguished and seems to put an incredible amount of emotion into the role. Rockstar hit the sound category out of the park.
Replay Value (10/10) - As mentioned before, this game features tons of things to do. One moment you could be attacking a gang hangout and gun fighting tons of bandits and the other you could be playing a game of poker, getting caught cheating, and being forced into a duel to the death. The game's main storyline isn't exactly short either. There are hours and hours of playing to be had. As with most open world games, very few times do you go from point A to point B linearly. There is always a point C or D that will stop you along the way. In short, the game will eat up a lot of your time. You will find yourself hunting or doing many of the game's other activities for hours and wonder where the time went. The game's replay value is some of the best I've seen in a game.
Red Dead Redemption is a game that looks to take the crown of open world single player games. An open world style game like this hasn't held my attention as much since Oblivion came out. Rockstar has brilliantly crafted a world that people dying for a western title have always wanted. The attention to detail and the amount of polish this game has seen is quite amazing. The fairly long wait for this game was well worth it as it's a game I see myself playing for much longer.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Red Dead Redemption (US, 05/18/10)
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