Ahh, Rockstar...

When they get it right, they get it RIGHT...

And when they effectively decided to port Grand Theft Auto's open-sandbox to the Wild West, they effectively got it right.

Red Dead Redemption was seen as the Game of the Year in almost every competition which could include it, and there was little reason why not:  The game is solid, flows freely, and offers a variety of challenges spread out over a massive expanse of wilderness with a vibrant landscape.

You start out as a half-dead old cowboy after a failed revenge attempt, nursed to some degree of health at a farm in the American part of the game.  You then not only work for your keep (in ways such as keeping watch over the farm (and later cities at night), but also on the missions to advance the storyline of the game to the cities.

Bored?  Try your hand at Texas Hold 'Em.  Memory-based button pushing...

However, as often happens with Rockstar, the strength of this kind of game lies in the missions -- the storyline that leads the protagonist on a journey of redemption, revenge, and eventually reunion and reconciliation.

The ending, however, is quite unexpected.

You can even go ahead and, if the timing is right, do a bounty-based minigame where you go to take out henchmen and a boss character.  You can decide to kill him, or wound him, tie him up with your lasso, and take him back.

However, when you do try to take either proof of the death or the accused back, his friends try to take you out on horseback.  Really fun and a great way to build up some ammunition for free.

There are two problems with the game which reduce it from a 10 for me:

1) The mission-fail mechanism is slightly too forgiving.  For the longer missions, you certainly want some degree of checkpointing, but to allow a direct retry from the checkpoint (rather than, say, having to return to a checkpoint) is a slight aid.

2) Sometimes, in the bounty part of the game (which was my favorite), the "friends" would stop coming long before you got back to the appointed jail site.

All in all, a great investment of Greatest Hits PS3 pricing, if you can find one...