I tend to review games negatively. I can find the bad in just about anything, video games included. There’s a reason I’m like that. It’s the same reason the dark corners of the internet are inhabited by ravenous wolves known to the locals as ‘trolls.’ It is safe. Instead of risking having my reasons for what I enjoy being ripped to shreds, leaving me rejected and alone, I reject preemptively. It’s so much easier to tear down what you don’t like than defend what you do.
If we are honest, we must admit there is a little troll in all of us. But now I believe it’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone and review one of my all time favorites.
Red Dead Redemption was stunning for its time. The western sunsets were a thing of beauty, the setting so unique, and the world so vibrant. I felt like I could have just gone back in time to the wild west and been perfectly fine after playing this game. I’d have been dead in a couple of days, but I would have gone there confidently. That’s what Red Dead did so well. It set the mood and made you feel like you were truly experiencing a different era: the death of the wild west. The story is interesting. It isn’t the best gaming plot, but it is close. I was attached to many of the characters, especially John Marston. The annoying characters…well, they were actually supposed to be annoying.
The music was perfect. Allow it to speak for itself:
If you like the GTA series then this game will be very intuitive to you. I was fairly new to Rockstar Games when I picked up a copy of Red Dead Redemption. The way it played felt like…there was weight to everything. I hadn’t experienced that very often in a game before. Everything from trying to climb, jump, or even holding Marston’s pistol all felt more grounded in the reality of weight. Shooting mechanics in Red Dead worked well for the most part, and traveling by horse was simple and only became frustrating during a couple of racing missions.
This game has all the country you need. You can hunt bounties (taking them dead or alive, depending on your skill with a lasso), herd cattle, try to tame wild horses, clear gang hideouts (one of my favorites), hunt, help or hinder robberies…pick flowers…you know. Things outlaws do.
Having never truly played a Rockstar game before, I was pleasantly surprised by how the story unfolds and allows you to choose which characters you wish to go speak with during each section. Also, the world itself is just so distracting and fun that I got sidetracked multiple times simply heading towards my next story mission. Sometimes a buzzard would get on my bad side, or maybe it was time to get the “Dastardly” trophy (yes, you know what I’m talking about). Heck, thanks to Red Dead, Liar’s Dice is now a staple game in mine and my wife’s family.
I also press flowers now.
While the story never changes, and there aren’t any incredibly important choices to be made that truly change the gameplay, there’s something that compels me to replay Red Dead every once in a while. Yes, there are choices in some situations that change how people respond to you and give you a lot of freedom to be the hero or villain. But I think it is because no other game fills the western genre as aptly as Red Dead that makes it appealing to replay. There are plenty of sci-fi, horror, modern shooters, and ungodly amounts of fantasy games. Quality westerns, however, aren’t as typical.
The random events such as robberies, gunfights, or unexpected meetings/discoveries that turned into entire side quests are too fun to leave alone. It makes the story seem like just a part of the world you were experiencing and it kept me coming back.
During the five years of its existence I have consistently returned to this game more than most other games, possibly second only to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and its beautiful love child…the Mass Effect series.
Online was okay, however, it was not the main draw of Red Dead Redemption. The modes can be fun provided you can manage to get into a match that does not have hackers. For the style of game, Rockstar made a valiant attempt at online, but nothing about it enticed me to continue playing after I had gotten a taste for what it was like.
John Marston is possibly my favorite protagonist of all time to play as, and the world he roams is an enjoyable playground to explore, find new things, and discover new ways to die. You will not regret trying this game, especially if you have any interest in botany.
It allows players to explore a genre that has not yet, and may never, come into its own in the video game industry. Red Dead Redemption sets the bar so high that it’s hard to imagine another game dethroning it as the best western video game any time soon.The story and mood of Red Dead is much like a country song. It takes its time, sets the stage, doesn’t sugar coat it, and has a tinge of sadness.
If only country music sounded as good as this game plays. I might actually listen to it.