I have a love/hate relationship with westerns. I hate the movies but love the games. Gun was awesome and Red Dead Revolver was amazing. So when I found out Rockstar was working on a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, I was pretty psyched. And, after watching some of the trailers for Red Dead Redemption, I was sold that this is a must have game and that says a lot because of all the incredible titles that have come out since the start of 2010.
Red Dead Redemption’s story takes place pretty much where Revolver left off. You play as John Marston a former gang member who reappraised his life and resolved to put his past behind him to settle down with his family. As he changed, so did the landscape. The federal government set its sights on bringing their law to the whole country by any means necessary. When ruthless government agents kidnap his wife and child and threaten to kill them unless he brings his former gang to justice, John is left with no choice: to save his family, he must pick up his guns once more and hunt down the men he used to run with.
As the story progresses, you will travel to over ninety locations trying to bring your former gang to justice. On your venture to locate these criminals, you will meet unique characters that you must do jobs for that range from herding cattle to bounty hunting for the sheriff. If you played Grand Theft Auto IV, then you are already familiar with the set up of this game. And there is nothing at all wrong with that. The controls are very similar to those of GTAIV so there is hardly any learning curve.
Staying with that, the characters react to certain things the same way they do in GTAIV. You run into someone, the stumble and make a comment to you. James even moves the way Niko moved in GTAIV: when he walks, he moves very slow. It is very easy to see the similarities between the two games, except this time around, it’s Grand Theft Steed.
The sounds of the game are fantastic. Everything from the sound of the horse galloping to bullets ricocheting off of objects make you feel as though you are actually in the old west. The games soundtrack also helps set the mood and tone of the game. The look of Redemption is very authentic. Everything from the way the characters dress and present themselves to the way the towns look – very baron with dust and tumbleweeds blowing in the wind.
Like any sandbox type game, there is a massive amount of stuff to do. You can play mini-games like play Texas Hold ’Em, Blackjack, and a game that has you jabbing a knife between your fingers. That game takes a good amount of skill as you have to press the appropriate button at just the right time if you don’t; you cut yourself and get to try again. You can try up to five times before you lose the game. Along the way you will also meet strangers that have you do certain things for them. A few will challenge you to shoot a number of certain animals in the allotted time while others require you to save them from coyotes or even nasty outlaws. And this is where I ran into the only major problem with this game. When I first started the game, I was just casually strolling down the road on my trusty horse when I saw a couple of other riders approaching and when they got closer to me, they started shooting. So, as a reflex, I shot back and killed them. At that point, I was informed that there is now a bounty on me and that I can’t help any strangers until I am out of danger.
So, yes, you can go through the game as an “outlaw” and it affects your fame and honor. Anyways, I didn’t want to play that way, so I restarted my game at the last checkpoint so I can see if it would happen again. Well, I come to find out that if there isn’t a blue icon (for friends) or a red icon (for bad guys), you don’t have to worry about the ones that don’t appear on the map. Ok, so now I knew that but it still when I see someone ride up and start shooting, I find myself just inches from squeezing the trigger. But another time that made me go “huh?” was when I saw a blue icon on the map; I went to it to see what this stranger wanted. When I approached the icon, they started shooting me and killed me. So to this day because of the events that have happened, I have a very loose trigger finger.
As mentioned earlier, doing certain things either raise or lower your fame and honor meters. Fame is gained by killing people, doing jobs, completing challenges, finishing tasks, helping strangers, and winning duels and games. The higher the fame, the better rewards: the cost of bribes comes down and people start to turn a blind eye to transgressions but people are more likely to ask you for help. Honor is gained by making certain choices when they are presented to you and whatever your choice is it will affect your honor either negatively or positively. High honor will award you with discounts in stores, more pay for jobs and witnesses turning a blind eye to criminal behavior.
Besides a great single player experience, Red Dead Redemption also has an amazing multiplayer set up. You can go in into multiplayer modes alone or you can get eight of your friends and form a posse. In all, there are a few modes for you to play. In Free Roam, you are free to go nearly anywhere with up to 15 other players. This is where you can pick your unique character in the Outfitter. This is also the mode that lets you pick your posse. Also in Free Roam, you will come across gateway markers in towns that will automatically launch Competitive modes in that area. These will send an invite to every player in that session that they can opt into if they choose. You are also free to choose game playlists and invite players to compete against.
Everything you do in multiplayer will earn you experience points. This lets you level up and unlock new weapons, new playable characters, better mounts, and more advanced and hardcore versions of the standard multiplayer games. Also as you level up, new multiplayer challenges will open up. In the competitive modes, you can take your posse and pit them against another posse to see who has the better gang, and there are old west versions of capture the flag. So, no matter what your taste, Redemption’s multiplayer will satisfy everyone. A couple of things I did notice while playing the multiplayer was, just like in GTA, the character controls feel a little looser and a bit harder to control but I think this improves as you level up. I also had a few problems when I was playing with a friend that he kept getting kicked form the game so, and I hate to keep comparing it to GTA but, the multiplayer has some connection errors that need to be addressed.
I don’t know what else to say about this game and I’m sure I forgot to mention something, that’s how big this game is! But I can’t say it enough: this game is amazing! It’s the total package: it has a fantastic single player story (with great voice acting) and some of the best multiplayer that I have experienced so far in a sandbox type game. With all the great games that came out the same day as RDR, I highly recommend this game over the other ones hands down and that is hard for me to say because the other games are pretty amazing as well. But if you have to only choose one, choose Red Dead Redemption because you really can’t afford to miss this one! It has set a new standard for sandbox games.
Review copy provided by publisher.