The lights are on
If you were to say
the words “Rockstar Games” around most gamers their thoughts would most likely
jump to the Grand Theft Auto series since that is what Rockstar Games is best
known for. However, in 2010, Rockstar
Games decided to take their popular GTA formula and use it to revive a dormant
niche in video games: the western.
Hailing as a spiritual successor to their 2004 cult hit Red Dead
Revolver, Rockstar Games released Red Dead Redemption and it quickly became a
new, and redefining, hit in the Rockstar Games lineup.
probably know what I mean when I speak of the “GTA formula” but for those who
don’t, the Grand Theft Auto series has long been known for its open
sandbox-esque worlds, varied mission and activity types, and plethora of odd,
sometimes downright strange, characters.
So how does such a makeup stack up when put into a western setting?
Surprisingly well in fact. Unlike Red
Dead Revolver which, while having similar themes and elements played out more
as a linear shooter, Red Dead Redemption manages to tell an engaging story of revenge,
betrayal, and coming to terms with a changing world while also being a darn fun
third-person shooter as well. Even
better, because of its sandbox environment, the game allows the player to
follow the story at their own pace or choose to partake in one of the many
other activities available.
The plot is a
rather straightforward one (as a western’s plot ought to be): Former
gunman/robber turned rancher John Marston is “persuaded” by a pair of
government officials (i.e. they kidnap his wife and son) to hunt down and bring
to justice his former gang-mates with the promise that his family will be
released upon completion of the task.
The game is set in 1911, during the decline of the cowboy/wild west era
which is made apparent thanks to the game’s rich atmosphere. The opening scenes depict Marston riding on a
train, overhearing other people talk of “flying machines” and “bringing culture
to the red man.”
sequences and missions in the game introduce the player to the basics of
movement, horseback-riding, shooting, and even breaking in new horses to ride. They also introduce a few of the large myriad
of characters John is to meet during his journey, some friend, some foe. The game-world itself, while containing only
a handful of settlements and towns, is rather expansive, encompassing two
entire territories of southern Texas called New Austin and West Elizabeth as
well as a Mexican territory called Nuevo Paraiso (all three are fictitious). The different landscapes John can explore
range from wide open deserts and fields to thick forests and snow-capped
cliffs, each populated with various wildlife and people.
A variety of
horses that can be either purchased or broken allows for quick travel around
the world as do various stage-coaches located in most major settlements. In addition to the game’s main plot, John can
also participate in local games such as horseshoe-tossing, liar’s dice, poker,
blackjack, as well as other activates like bounty hunting, dueling, and even
little mini-stories called “Stranger Tasks.”
Combat is both intuitive and easy-to-master thanks to the series
signature “Dead-Eye” mechanic which lets the player briefly slow down time
allowing for precision aiming against one or multiple foes. Red Dead Redemption includes a variety of
firearms and other weaponry ranging from basic pistols and rifles to shotguns,
explosives, and even some early sniper-rifles.
One last major
feature to note is the game’s multiplayer which allows the player to explore
the entirety of the game-world with other players from all over, either riding
around in the “free roam” world or participating in a variety of game-types
including deathmatch, capture-the-gold (a western approach to
capture-the-flag), co-op and team-based missions, or even less-deadly
activities like poker. Unlike the game’s
single-player mode, multiplayer lets the player choose from a variety of
different characters to play as, ranging from soldiers of the U.S. Army to
members of various gangs and factions, and even as law enforcement with more
characters, in addition to new mounts, weapons, and titles, being unlockable as
the player ranks up.
Overall Red Dead
Redemption is a worthy (if slightly more refined) follow-up for the western
genre of gaming. With a tight and
action-packed story, gritty atmosphere, slick combat, and a multitude of challenges
to be conquered, it is definitely worth any gamer’s while to come play in
Rockstar’s western sandbox for a while.
If you’re a fan of the GTA series, open-world gameplay, perfectly
executed multiplayer, or all of the above, I’d highly recommend you take Red
Dead Redemption for a spin, you won’t be disappointed.
General Gameplay Tips:
Main Game Site: http://www.rockstargames.com/reddeadredemption/agegate/ref/?redirect=
Game Wiki: http://reddead.wikia.com/wiki/Red_Dead_Wiki
Guides, Walkthroughs, etc: http://xbox360.ign.com/objects/143/14320288.html
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