It has been a while since I last played an open world game. [Prototype} comes to mind, but there might have been others. Anyways, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just happy to have another game to fool around in.
Keen and I admittedly were not found of Rockstar’s last outing, Grand Theft Auto IV. I don’t think either of us could give a specific reason why, if pressed, but there were several small factors that made it not feel like a GTA game. Fortunately, Red Dead Redemption is exactly the kind of game I was hoping it would be.
The basic premise of the game is as follows:
The year 1911, and wild west’s days are nearing an end. You are put into the role of John Marston, a former outlaw who has moved on from his old ways to settle down with a wife and son. Unfortunately John’s shady past caught up with him. A former man John used to run with has taken over the old gang and has been causing trouble. Enough trouble to cause government marshals to apprehend and threaten Marston’s family if he doesn’t track down and put an end to his old comrade’s misdeeds.
The story is pretty interesting and Marston seems like a likable, decent man. I had a little trouble in the beginning of the game trying to understand what was going on. It didn’t feel like the game did a great job of setting up the story. I checked the instruction manual and found a brief synopsis that filled in some of the blanks, but I would have appreciated a little more of a fleshed out opening, unless I seriously missed something important.
Red Dead Redemption is essentially GTA in the old west. It may sound odd to some people, but I think it really works. The game plays out like other GTA style games where you run missions for different individuals to progress the story, while finding interesting things to do on the side. RDR features many distractions such as several card games (like Poker), dice, horseshoes, lassoing stuff and hunting game to name a few. I’ve probably spent more time riding around exploring and messing around than actually doing missions. It’s like GTA in that you can pick a direction and just go off and do stuff. The game is very easy to get lost in, but in a good way.
As you complete missions you gain fame. Fame makes you well known which grants you access to new perks. Depending on how you play the game and the decisions you make, you can gain or lose honor. An example is when you have a bounty target and you can either kill him or bring him back alive. If someone challenges you to a duel you can kill them or shoot the gun out of their hand.
The combat is similar to GTAIV and features a basic cover system along with a “deadeye” ability, I believe it’s called, which slows down time and allows you to shoot targets more easily and with higher accuracy. This may seem kind of cheap to some people, but when you’re riding on your horse and being chased by a posse of 4 or more people then you will be glad to have it. I really have no complaints about the combat. It would be nice if the aiming flowed a little better, but it is very manageable.
There is a lot I can say about the game, but it is really something you should experience, and I’m just talking about the single-player. The online component is an entirely different beast, which I haven’t experienced much of yet, but plan to detail whenever I get around to it.
Given all there is to do in Red Dead Redemption and how well it follows the open sandbox feel of the GTA -style, I would definitely recommend it to anyone.