Red Dead Redemption User Review
This is Rockstar at their best. Creating vast landscapes that suck you in and make you feel like you will always have the last word in anything happening around you. Run, shoot, stab, or lasso your way from shack to farm to town to small city. Become a bounty hunter and bring the wanted back, dead or alive. Hunt any of the creatures you see roaming the wilds. Tame wild horses and sell them, ride them, or race them for money. Go into town and get drunk, fight or even engage in a shoot out. Intervene in domestic disputes or gamble your earnings away. There is so much to do that you may forget about the larger missions which propel the narrative forward. Speaking of narrative, this may be one of the strongest game scripts ever written. This is a game told through the soul of Sam Peckinpah. Dirty characters dong dirty deeds. Visceral, violent and raw but always the truth. The world constantly changes around you. Nothing is stagnant rather it constantly evolves, giving you a new experience every time you set out.
Marston controls like a dream. Running, shooting and taking cover are all a snap. Riding horses makes you feel like a real cowboy. The best way to describe the pleasure of playing Red Dead is weight. Everything has a certain weight. A repeater feels heavier than a pistol. Your horse's hooves feel like they're digging into the earth as you gallop across the plains. It's all so grounded. Going uphill can be a chore, you feel the weight difference, the friction. The dead-eye meter is an interesting concept, perhaps originating with Max Payne's bullet time but here it's perfectly executed. Being able to stop time and disarm, de-hat or straight kill multiple enemies makes you truly feel like a gunslinger.
The story can be completed in 20-30 hours with missions scattered throughout the game to teach you new game mechanics that help you fully appreciate the depth at play. It all feels so natural and once you get the hang of everything you can do, you feel a real sense of accomplishment. Alliances are made and broken. People come and go an die at will throughout the story. There's a true sense of gravity to the story and your actions seem to have a true consequence on the game world. The final act throws one last delicious curve ball at the player, ending in a bloodbath and one of the most memorable and heart wrenching endings any game has ever had. Ever.
From a technical standpoint this game is rendered very well. Riding across the desert with the sun setting behind distant mountains is a lasting image. The detail of the period clothing down to the dirty and dusty nature of your hat or overcoat is impressive. Bullets whizz by your head and ricochet off hard surfaces. Your boots clacking off wood planks or crunching in the sand or snow are all so realistic to make you feel like you're actually in the wild wild west. The expansive voice cast all give note perfect performances making this a complete technical package.
Red Dead Redemption has the ability to suck your life away. There's good reason to play through the main story a second time to maybe make some opposite moral choices. There are also a few different trophies to unlock for making specific gameplay choices. Hell, this crazy group of characters are worth spending more time with for no other reason than to do just that. Multiplayer is a whole other animal and also what puts this game over the top as one of the best values we've ever seen. There's a co-op mode that allows to take on missions with up to three other friends. You have your normal menu of game modes but the reason to get excited here is free roam. This is essentially the multiplayer lobby but it allows you access to the entire game world. You can hook up with your friends and do whatever you want. Kill each other, hunt, race, clear hideouts, raise hell in town, whatever you want. Genius.
In the end, Red Dead Redemption is that game you expect to be great due to its pedigree but it still surprises you. From the writing to the art direction. The voice cast to sound design. Custom options to multiplayer. Great games are the sum of their parts but when all of their parts are equally great, it becomes special. Red Dead Redemption is all of these things and still it's more. It's the most complete vision Rockstar has ever produced and is so good it wouldn't only make Peckinpah proud but jealous too.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.