Many people who have played Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise would probably just simply judge Red Dead Redemption as “GTA in the Wild West”. While these claims are not wrong, it would be a dishonor to judge this game as a simple GTA cowboy game. Many have already experienced John Marston’s tale of redemption, but for those who haven’t, it’s worth every penny.
Former gang member John Marston is now trying to live the simple life: a quiet peaceful life with his wife and son and his soon to be growing ranch; away from his past misdemeanors and crimes of self justice. But the government has other plans with John. After kidnapping his wife and son, Mr. Marston is forced to help hunt down some of his former members, in exchange for his family. This initial setup will lead our protagonist for one of the greatest adventures ever told by Rockstar.
Anyone familiar with GTA’s setup will immediately see some resemblance in this game: the dialogue, the atmosphere, the movements. But the setup in Red Dead is a lot different compared to GTA. There are no cars, no planes, and barely any buildings. For those that love the wild west environment, this game hits the mark on all fronts. And Red Dead Redemption delivers! The map in this game is vast, and very diverse. Throughout your heroic adventure, you will see the mesa mountains of Mexico, the approaching civilized towns of West Elizabeth, snowy forested mountains, and much more. Rockstar did an amazing job with making this world feel so vibrant and vivid, no matter how much of it seems quiet. It made me feel like I was actually living the cowboy lifestyle. Plus, the sound effects are great! The hoofs of the horses as you ride away into the sunset, the sounds of carriages thumping, the hisses of snakes before they bite you (yes, there are animals in this game), and the genuine sounds of revolvers and rifles. I don’t usually admire these type of things, but it shows so much in this game that you can’t help but take notice.
As I mentioned a moment ago, there is wildlife flourishing all over. This (to me anyways) is new for Rockstar. And all the animals have genuine motions and sounds to go with them. There is a small minigame that you may do (sometimes necessary to complete a mission) that you must hunt and skin animals. It has its small share of entertainment since you actually feel like you are hunting. But be warned, not all animals will simply run away. Wild wolves, cougars, and bears are among some of the creatures who will not take calmly to your presence.
Marston will meet up with a variety of interesting characters on his quest to return to his family and many of them will send him on missions that will lead to many shootouts. Combat in this game is extremely fast, so keep your wits up or you’ll end up in a tomb in no time. Thankfully, there is a small lock on feature (that is very similar to Call of Duty) that when you hold down the aim trigger, if there is an enemy close by where you are aiming, Marston will lock on to their torso. This mechanic is a major help cause shootouts can get extremely hectic real fast. Another major feature in this game is Dead Eye mode. Everything is sent into slow motion while John is more precise with his aim. As you progress through the game, you will receive upgraded versions of Dead Eye mode where you can aim at simultaneous targets by simply highlighting targets, and afterwards placing the targets yourself. The outcome is always a pleaser when Marston shoots his gun rapidly at each target. The amount of weapons at your disposal is also vast. With many variations of revolvers, pistols, rifles, and shotguns, you’ll always ask yourself what to blast your enemy with next.
The amount of content in this game is enormous. Side missions and minigames are littered throughout the open desert. One minute you could be hunting down a bounty to earn some extra cash, then the next you could be gambling all that money away. Online multiplayer is also available to keep the action coming and going if you want to gun down your friends. Downloadable content also extends the fun with more multiplayer options and an all new single player story entitled Undead Nightmare where John must find a cure to a Zombie apocalypse. Even after seeing the ending and the credits roll, you can still continue and get that well deserved 100% mark. The game isn’t perfect with some glitches and unexplained control problems here and there, but they are very minor in comparison to what is offered. But Rockstar has proven once again that they are the kings (or one of the kings) of open world gaming.
Rating: 9 out of 10