Review by theBEAST137

Reviewed: 05/24/11

A masterpiece of this generation.

Rockstar is known for making fantastic open-world games, such as Bully and the highly controversial Grand Theft Auto series. Now, they’ve released Red Dead Redemption, which has been called things like Grand Theft Stagecoach or Grand Theft Auto with horses. Boasting the Rockstar name, you know the game is good, but just how good is it? The answer: this game is an absolute masterpiece of this generation, and it lives up to its publisher’s expectations and then some.

You play as John Marston, a former cowboy gunslinging gang member. “What could possibly go wrong?” you might ask. Well, government officials have taken John’s wife and teenage son, and they have threatened not to give them back unless John takes out the remaining living gang members. Throughout the story, it becomes very clear that John Marston deeply cares about his family, and in fact the characterization of John Marston is one of Red Dead Redemption’s greatest aspects. You truly feel for Mr. Marston because of the situation he was forced into. Furthermore, Rockstar does a great job of showing Marston’s motivation for things he does, which furthers the great story in ways many games nowadays just can’t.

What really sells you on not only John Marston, but also every character in Red Dead Redemption is the superb voice acting. Every single character you meet in this game, even the random civilians that talk in the background, are very well voiced, making you truly believe that this is a living breathing world.

What greatly helps with not only side characters, but also the whole story, is the excellent writing. Each character has great dialogue that will leave you with a variety of emotions, from anger to hilarity. Additionally, every character, including the side characters, has an interesting background and history that makes every character unique. You will learn these backstories of all characters, especially Mr. Marston, through a lot of conversations. Whenever you ride through the world of Red Dead Redemption with an NPC for a story mission, Marston will converse with that NPC. These conversations give the player more information about Marston, the NPC, and the world of RDR as a whole.

Speaking of the world of Red Dead Redemption, let’s talk about that because it is without a doubt the greatest aspect of Red Dead Redemption. First of all, the world is gorgeous. A variety of environments, from desert to forest to even arctic areas, are each beautifully put together, with rich detail in every tumbleweed and every slice of grass. All of this is rendered beautifully without any loading screens at all besides the one before you enter the world.

However, what the world truly has in its favor is just how full and rich the world is. The world truly feels like it is a living, breathing world. Robbers, bounties, civilians, side mini-games, and even people who try to rob your horse inhabit this world. It is definitely not as safe a world as Liberty City from GTAIV. There are even a plethora of different animals that you can hunt (or be hunted by), such as birds, wolves, deer, and even grizzly bears. Add in challenges for hunting, treasure finding, flower picking, and the amazing stranger missions, and you have a world that you will want to explore every last pixel of. The greatest compliment I can give the world is that I hardly ever fast travel unless if I am in a rush to get to the next mission. I always know that something interesting will happen along the way somewhere, which that alone is an accomplishment.

Of course, the world wouldn’t mean nearly as much if the missions you do within it weren’t interesting. Thankfully, missions in this game are fantastic. Each one is varied, so much so that you never know what you will be doing next. One mission you might be going someplace and killing everybody there, and the next you might be using a gattling gun and protecting a train. Additionally, there are stranger missions, which you will randomly find throughout the environment. What these missions lack in things to do, they more than make up for in substance of each mini-plot. There are some truly fantastic mini-plots here, and they set the tone of the world greatly. They show just how screwed up this world can be, and each stranger missions has a conclusion that will make you think.

As much as the story and its world are integral to the game, it wouldn’t be fun unless the gameplay was good. RDR takes the cover controls of GTAIV and refines them so well that it is a blast to play. The game uses a lock-on cover-based gameplay that works extremely well in its 3rd person shooter nutshell. What really surprised me is how well the horse mechanics worked. Controls are much more fluid than GTAIV’s car mechanics, and it works in such a way that you truly feel like a badass gunslinger. You can also enter a mode called “Dead Eye,” which slows everything down and allows you to aim easier at specific targets. As you continue the story, the mode allows you to choose your targets and press a button and it will automatically shoot the targets. It is incredibly satisfying, and it makes the gameplay that much more rewarding. Add a variety of usable weapons, including classics like repeaters and revolvers, and you have some truly great gameplay that you will have a blast playing through.

Overall, this is a game you cannot miss if you are 17 or older (as being a Rockstar game, it earns its M rating). It has a superb story mode that will last at least 25 hours (40 hours if you go for the 100% completion), and you will enjoy every second of it. Some very minor visual bugs and an ending that I have very mixed feelings about hold Red Dead Redemption from perfection. However, these by no means hamper the amazing journey that RDR takes you on. Add on a robust multiplayer mode with both competitive and cooperative modes similar to that of GTAIV and you have one amazing, complete package that you would be crazy to pass up on.

(not an average score)

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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

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