Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is a third person shooter developed by Rockstar games, the creators of the much acclaimed Grand Theft Auto series. In many ways, Red Dead Redemption is the cowboy western version of Grand Theft Auto. The game features a primary protagonist, John Marston, with a shady criminal history that he is trying to bury and start anew. Despite his efforts to attain a normal rancher's life, he is forced to confront his past when his son and wife are kidnapped by agents of the United States government. In order to free his family, John must hunt down his former gang members and bring them back, dead or alive. When his initial efforts to bring in one of the members, Bill Williamson, back fires, he is left to die in the dessert. The player begins his journey as John when he wakes up at the MacFarlane ranch, saved by some kindly ranchers.
Throughout the course of the game the player gains more weapons, better abilities and faster horses. The hunt for the members of John's old gang takes you from the desserts of Mexico to the snow-capped mountains of upper New Austin. The game plays much like Grand Theft Auto IV, with the primary protagonist hunting down people from his past. John Marston encounters many different NPCs throughout the game, from which you gain information about the whereabouts of you former compatriots. Each mission or task performed brings you a little closer to finding you former allies and freeing your family. The game natural breaks down into different sections of play: New Austin, Mexico and the Great Plains/Tall Trees. These are all sections of the map which become available over the course of the game, but are unavailable until certain points.
John Marston utilizes a plethora of different weapon in his search for answers. John starts of the game with only his knife and revolver, but it isn't long before you unlock multiple other armaments. These include standard cowboy far, things like revolvers and pistols, rifles and shotguns. Marston also receives a lasso, which can be used to capture criminals alive, rope horses, or for kidnapping civilians. The further into the game you go, the more weapons you gain. In Mexico you gain a sniper rifle, throwing knives, and fire bombs. You can also gain dynamite. In each category there are also multiple forms of the weapon.
In addition to the primary storyline quests (about 57 of them) there are also Stranger Tasks, which can be completed anytime during the game, you just have to find the Stranger first. There is also a collection of challenges which you can complete, unlocking better stats and some specialized equipment. The game also contains multiple mini-games, made up of different forms of gambling, ranging from poker to arm wrestling. Another piece of content are the Outfits, about ten or so of them, which are unlocked by performing a series of tasks or challenges. These change the actual appearance of the character in-game. You can hunt for animals, search for treasure, clear gang hideouts or even ride a train.
Red Dead Redemption contains a large multiplayer system, which I admittedly have little experience with. It consists of multiple game types, the most popular of which is Free Roam, though other types are also entertaining. In Free Roam, you do what the name suggests, essentially the storyline itself without missions or stranger tasks. Red Dead Redemption also has a good deal of DLC, the best of which is Undead Nightmare, in which John Marston must face down a Zombie Apocalypse. The DLC is best downloaded after completing at least the first two sections of the game.
Red Dead Redemption captures the best elements of the Free World experience many gamers seek from games. The variability offered by the tasks in-game also for hours and hours of consecutive gameplay without boredom. The range of weapons is well designed for the time setting. A detraction from the overall game experience was the lack of things to do once the game is completed. There is also little noticeable change between the difficulty settings. Also, there is virtually no replayability.
A well written storyline coupled with the free world experience produces a vivid tapestry. The game ends abruptly and surprisingly, which was moderately annoying (you'll know what I mean when you get there).
Good graphics, great design. Beautiful.
Awarded If you want to see why this game is worthy of a bonus point, check out the achievement menu. There are nearly a hundred achievements for this game, many of which are quite fun to go for. The game stand out any many ways, but one thing that distinguishes it from other games of the year is the effort Rockstar put into character development. John Marston is the most believable character I have seen in a game, possible ever.
Final Rating: 9.25/10.0
By Hegemon (Edward Lane)
Date: February 24, 2010