10 Hours In: Red Dead Redemption [Review]
May 31, 2010
I have to be honest with you, when I first heard about Red Dead Redemption I was not looking forward to it. I was so broken up by what I thought to be an overhyped GTA IV, I figured Rockstar lost their touch. I started watching some of the trailers and seeing some of the feature videos and then my interest started to grow. But then I started to see some of the reviews giving all these high ratings and I couldn’t help to think, “Here we go again.” Picked it up on release day and I am very happy to say that this game was not overhyped. It was everything that the early reviewers said it was, and then some.
You play the game as John Marston, who in the beginning of the game is being escorted to a train by two federal marshals. You find out that John has been tasked with taking down the members of his old gang one at a time, or else his family will be killed. This is all part of a push for the federal government to gain control of the west. You reach your destination and meet up with Bill Williamson, your former comrade. Things don’t go in your favor and you’re left for dead. Luckily a woman named Bonnie comes and collects you, then nurses you back to health. This is where your game begins.
First thing that I noticed about the game is the music. It really gives you a feeling like you’re watching an old Clint Eastwood movie, without sounding like a Clint Eastwood movie. The thing that I like the most about it is that it doesn’t drown you in music. It’s a simple melody played on a guitar. Sometimes when the action picks up they will add some drums and other instruments in. But still the music doesn’t turn into this big production. The characters are also very lively in the aspect that you can believe these are real people, not voice actors just reading scripts. Each character has their own personality. The dialog is good; it seems very natural and feels like a real conversation instead of a scripted session. That’s more than I can say for Alan Wake. The facial expression along with the lip sync assist in making the characters in Red Dead feel believable.
There are LOTS of things to do in Red Dead Redemption. Besides the main story you have games you can play like poker, blackjack, and horse shoes. You can help patrol the perimeter of the McFarlane ranch. You can pick up bounties, hunt and skin animals, complete side missions for strangers, hunt for treasure maps, save people from getting robbed or killed, capture and return stolen property, watch a movie, save a whore, race horse, wrangle horses, participate in shooting contests, participate in duels….the list goes on and on and I’m a little past ten hours in the game. I can only imagine that you will be able to do more in the future.
My favorite activity has to be collecting bounties. You collect the bounty from your nearest town, then you need to ride out to the location of the hideout. After wiping out the henchmen you have two choices. You can kill the bounty, and take proof back to the town, or you can keep him alive and get double the money from the sheriff. To keep him alive you will need to lasso the bounty. On top of that, you need to keep him alive on the way back, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do since on the way back you are being chased by his henchmen.
Many activities you participate in not only give you money but also give you fame and effect your honor rating. This is where Rockstar puts morality in the hands of the player. You can be the honorable hero, helping out people that need it and saving people from the bad guys. On the flip side you can choose to be the bad guy, killing and stealing when you want. These types of actions effect your honor. How much honor you have in either direction will effect how other people treat you. Being more honorable will help you out in towns with good towns people that appreciate you being a good person and usually reward you with discounts at shops and more money for completing tasks like bounties. However, dishonorable people will be more hostile. The flip side is also true where if your dishonorable, honorable people will be more hostile toward you but you will find it easier to get deals around dishonorable folk. So far I have found it more profitable to be honorable. Fame determines how effective your honor ranking is. Also, the more fame you have, the better chance you have of getting called into a duel.
These other activities aren’t just distractions from the story. A lot of them will give you items you need to obtain different outfits that will help you out during the game. For example, if you have the special edition (like me) you will have access to the deadly assassin outfit, which helps your Dead Eye meter recharge faster. Speaking of Dead Eye…IT’S AWESOME. This feature will help you out in a major way during gun fights. Basically it takes you in to a slow motion mode where you can select parts of your enemies body to shoot. You can be slick and shoot guns out of their hands, hats off their heads. Or you can choose multiple parts of their body or multiple targets. When you release the trigger John will hit all targets selected. You can’t use this all the time as it is based on a meter, so you should conserve and use when needed. You can check out Dead Eye in the video later in this post.
Out Of 5
Red Dead Redemption
Even with points deducted for having what I feel are old looking textures and frame loss Red Dead Redemption's overall appearance is magnificent.
Everything sound related is top notch. Sound effects, soundtrack, dialog, and voice overs...all excellent.
I can't find any fault with the controls. Easy to use and comfortable.
Red Dead Redemption offers so much in terms of gameplay. The main story keeps things interesting by varying activities in each mission. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of activities you can do besides completing the main story. Did I mention the multiplayer?
Red Dead Redemption has brought me the most fun I have had on a console in a long time. Rockstar made sure they kept the gameplay fresh as you progress through so the fun doesn't stop.