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Red Dead Redemption

What You Should Know About Red Dead Redemption
by Matt Bertz on May 06, 2010 at 10:15 AM

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Platform PlayStation 4, Switch, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Publisher Rockstar Games
Developer Rockstar San Diego
Rating Mature

We’ve spent enough time robbing trains, clearing bandit camps, and surviving high noon duels to confirm that Red Dead Redemption is an ambitious and impressive interpretation of the Wild West that should appeal to Grand Theft Auto and Western fans alike. To tide you over before our review appears on May 17, we present this list that break down the game’s Hollywood influences and demonstrates the breadth of gameplay Rockstar has injected into the frontier setting.  

“First getting shot, then getting married – bad habits.” –Cole Younger, The Long Riders

Protagonist John Marston used to run with the most violent gang in the Wild West. After a robbery goes awry and he gets shot during the heist, his brothers leave him for dead while fleeing. Marston escapes, but decides it’s time to put down the six shooters and find a new life. He buys a parcel of land, gets married, has a son, and plans to live out the rest of his days as a rancher.

Charlie Burns: "You want me to kill me brother."
Captain Stanley: "I want you to kill your brother." – The Proposition

Marston’s range life doesn’t last long. With technology and business interests spreading into the untamed west at an exponential rate, the federal government decides to hasten the process by creating an agency to eliminate the outlaw gangs impeding the process. Well aware of Marston’s former life as an outlaw, the feds offer him a brutal form of forgiveness – hunt down your former brothers in arms, or never see your family again.

“Dyin' ain't much of a living, boy.” – Josey Wales, The Outlaw Josey Wales
The frontier isn’t all rolling hills of grain and gorgeous vistas. Spend too much time gawking at the remarkable scenery and you may find yourself the victim of a cougar attack or a bandit raid. The prairies, deserts, and mountain rangers are home to 40 animal types, many of which would love to eat John Marston for dinner. Several renegades roam the countryside looking for victims to rob, so be vigilant when you see men approaching on horseback or calling for help on the side of the road. They may be waiting to spring an ambush, and the worst way to return to town is in a coffin.  

“I get dressed, I kill him and be right back.” –Tuco, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
Like Grand Theft Auto IV protagonist Niko Bellic, John Marston isn’t stuck wearing the same clothes throughout the game. Red Dead Redemption features a wardrobe with several different outfits ranging from distinguished suits to weather-worn ponchos. Some are awarded to Marston for completing missions, some must be purchased at the tailor, and others feature mixed objectives that require you to find specific pieces of cloth hidden around the world and compete certain tasks.

“Sometimes I wish we could just hit 'em over the head, rob 'em, and throw their bodies in the creek.” –Al Swearengen, Deadwood
While galloping across the open range, Marston will encounter several traveling men and women being accosted by bandits. Some have had their horses stolen, others are fleeing in their stagecoach from their pursuers, and you may even come across a father trying to recover his kidnapped daughter. It’s up to you to save these strangers from their attackers, ignore their helpless pleas, or, if you’re the ruthless sort, shoot everyone on the scene and loot their bodies for money and supplies.

“There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around the neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting.” –Tuco, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
How you conduct yourself in town and on the range affects how citizens, lawmen, and outlaws respond to your presence. Wannabe Wyatt Earps can play the law-abiding role, shooting only when drawn upon, hunting down wanted men for bounties, and helping those in need to raise their honor and fame ratings. Being a man of the people delivers handsome rewards; townspeople will be more willing to look the other way if you gun down a man asking for a duel, and shopkeepers will offer you discounts. On the flip side of the coin, Billy the Kid sorts will gain infamy for robbing banks, stealing horses, shooting innocent civilians, and starting bar room brawls. Wreak enough havoc in the dust-swept border towns and a bounty will be placed on your head. It won’t just be lawmen hunting you down, either; the sheriffs will deputize posses of citizens to come after you.

“There’s more to being a man than handling a gun” –J.B. Brooks, The Shootist
John Marston is more than a hired gun whose family is held hostage by the feds. He’s also quite handy on the ranch. To repay his debts to a local rancher, Marston can aid the local farmers by guiding the cattle out to pasture, taking a evening shift following a trouble-sniffing dog around camp as the night watchman, and spending an afternoon scaring off the critters eating crops and terrorizing livestock. The romantic ideals of the old frontier may be giving way to the steady march of technological progress, but Marston is cowboy down to the bone.  

“I can find another wife easy, yes, but not a horse like that!” –Chris, Stagecoach
If you lose your horse to an errant bullet or by tumbling down the side of a mountain, it’s wise to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible. From mules to stallions, several horse breeds roam the wide-open countryside. Each species has a different top speed and stamina. If you want the fastest horse in the West, look for steeds with shiny coats and muscular frames. Once you rope your horse of choice with a lasso, you must mount it and keep the horse from bucking you off to break it. If you have a bunch of money on hand, you could also just buy a new one from a shopkeeper in town.

“Well, looks like you just about cleaned everybody out, fella. You haven't lost a hand since you got to deal. What's the secret of your success?” –Card Player #1, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
When enjoying a game of high stakes Texas Hold ‘em in the saloon, John Marston can attempt to better the odds by cheating while dealing. Stacking the deck in your favor isn’t easy, as you must keep your analog stick in the perfect position to pull a face card from the bottom of the deck. The gentlemen around the table don’t take kindly to being swindled, and if you slip up someone may challenge you to a duel outside the saloon.

“Where there's revolution there's confusion, and when there's confusion a man who knows what he wants stands a good chance of getting it.” –John H. Mallory, A Fistful of Dynamite
Finding your former gang members who are hiding south of the border won’t be easy. With Mexico suffering through another civil war, Marston must play both sides of the revolution to uncover information as to their whereabouts. One minute you’ll be sabotaging the rebellion as a favor to the governor, and the next you’ll be hijacking a government train to deliver a fresh arsenal to aid the dissident cause. Work both sides of the war long enough, and Marston will get what he’s after.

“When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished! We're finished! All of us!” –Pike Bishop, The Wild Bunch
In Red Dead Redemption’s free roam mode, you and a group of seven other gamers can form a posse to explore the vast countryside. Together you can hunt down other posses, freak out local villagers by galloping through their towns guns blazing, or take down rebel strongholds.

“Any more gunplay gets answered.” –Seth Bullock, Deadwood

Each round of Red Dead Redemption’s multiplayer starts with a Mexican standoff. Standing in a circle with guns drawn, it’s every man for himself. If you’re slow on the draw you may go down in a blaze of glory, but if you’re lucky enough to survive the free-for-all you’ll gain a competitive advantage in the match. While the rest of the competitors are waiting for a respawn, you’re free to hunt down the best gun in the map, take position in a sniping perch, or get a jumpstart on the competition in team-based modes by grabbing the gold and heading for a quick score.

“Here, you can only gain respect by killing other men.” –Silvantino, A Fistful of Dollars
Being quicker on the draw than your competition in Red Dead’s multiplayer is the surest way to level up your character. As you add to your kill count, you can unlock new character skins, earn gold-plated weapons, and get new mounts. With a level 50 cap, Red Dead’s multiplayer offers plenty of incentive to keep shooting.

Products In This Article

Red Dead Redemptioncover

Red Dead Redemption

PlayStation 4, Switch, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date:
May 18, 2010 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), 
August 17, 2023 (PlayStation 4, Switch)