Red Dead Redemption User Review
I won’t be writing about what happens in the story other than to say that Rockstar’s ability to tell a story and tell it in such a way as to put Hollywood to shame, shines through once again. The main character John Marston is immediately likeable. The voice talent, animations and writing will draw you in and highly entertain you throughout the duration of the lengthy campaign.
Rockstar is famous for its open worlds and that is exactly what you are getting with RDR. The world they put you in is completely believable. The random pedestrians popping up in GTAIV just to make the streets look busy are gone and replaced by very realistic npc actions in little towns sprinkled throughout the vast map. The pedestrians all fit. Drunks walk out of bars, cowboys ride into town and cause chaos, thieves steal and run, players call to you from the poker tables (and the other many games) and whores proposition you. It all draws you in and gives the sense that you’re not just playing a game, but are living in this crazy western world.
As mentioned, the gameplay is similar to GTAIV in that you still have letters on the world map showing you where the story missions are located. As with all of Rockstars latest offerings, this works just fine and ensures you’re never lost or confused as to where you need to go in order to make things move along. However, that’s about where the similarities stop.
RDR is so packed with things to do and challenges to complete that you may find yourself freelancing your hours away. Gone is the hunt for stationary pigeons. In its place is a vast wilderness thriving with realistic fauna to admire, hunt or run in terror from. Nothing is missing. Birds fly overhead, snakes ruffle the grass, wolves howl and bears rip you to shreds. It really is the wild west out there. The addition of fast travel from anywhere on the map is a nice addition too for when you want to high tail it out of there and head to the relative safety of a town.
Even though the story is geared toward being a good guy, they have added a fame and honor rating to Marston. The more you do in the world the more fame you garner for yourself. As your fame rises, people start to recognize you and you even get perks from the local shops in the way of better pricing. Your honor level fluctuates based on whether you do good deeds or bad and has varying effects. For example, shooting up a town will put a bounty on your head and you become wanted in that town. Escaping from the law removes your wanted level so the pursuit stops, but if you return to the town you shot up, you’re still wanted there and the danger resumes. By being notorious in some towns while being a loved in others gives a very realistic feel to the honor system.
The graphics in RDR are truly outstanding. When it comes to open worlds, we’re always waiting for those inescapable pop-in graphics. Rockstar is really to be commended here as I’ve played for dozens of hours and have not noticed any pop in at all. It may be there somewhere, but I never noticed it. The reason this is an achievement is because of the vast world of New Austin and Mexico. Standing on a hill, you can see for miles. The draw distance is staggering as it rightly should be in a game about the western frontier.
Character and animal models are some of the best out there and the overall look of the towns and wilderness is authentic and immersive. The physics engine gets a nod as well as objects are knocked over and scattered by the explosions of dynamite. It all comes together nicely and it looks great.
The sound effects are way above the curve as well. Every pistol, rifle and shotgun blast is as authentic as you can imagine and treats your ears to the sweet sound of gunpowder blasting hot lead. The animals all sound great as well. You’ll be frantically searching the ground when you hear a snake nearby or looking around in terror as you hear the familiar sounds of a cougar.
The voice acting, as mentioned, is fantastic and really sets the bar for how it should be done. Add to that some of the best western themed music you’ll ever hear and not once will you find yourself complaining about how RDR sounds.
The one complaint I have about the RDR is one of the same complaints I had about GTAIV. The controls. Not that they are bad. Far from it. They work fine. It’s just some of the design choices that I don’t understand. You still hold X to run. But you must keep tapping X if you want to sprint. Inevitably, you will almost always want to sprint. So button mashing is the order of the day. Of course you have a horse and he has limited energy for sprinting, but even so, it’s an X button mash fest. Why Rockstar didn’t just give us a button to hold down in order to sprint is beyond me.
Other things like automatically clinging to ladders, jumping up instead of climbing over a fence and the awkward swaying of your character while trying to get through a door all frustrated me at some time or another. When you’re surrounded by banditos and Marston just wants to climb a ladder, well, it’s a little annoying. A simple button prompt to climb the ladder would have been nice. The quibbles I have with the controls may not bother other gamers, but for me, I just can’t give them a perfect score.
The last thing I’ll mention is the multiplayer. If you played GTAIV’s multiplayer, you might be very skeptical of RDR’s online. GTAIV’s online was crap. RDR’s multiplayer is far and away from anything GTAIV offered. The “lobby room” is something called Free Roam. Free Roam is basically the single player world with all the challenges but open for other players to roam around with you. If you’ve ever tried doing all the challenges with 8 friends in Burnout Paradise, you’ll have an idea of what Free Roam is like. Some people cooperate, and some don’t.
All the popular game modes are represented here and there are weapons, rides and titles to unlock as you level up your character. If you don’t like playing team deathmatch or capture the gold, then you can level up by simply roaming New Austin and attacking the hideouts scattered around. It really is quite diverse and you’ll never be bored if you aim to complete the many challenges offered in your game journal.
When I bought RDR I really was expecting just a western themed GTA game. At first it even seemed like that’s exactly what I got. After the first couple hours of gameplay though, I quickly realized that Red Dead Redemption is its own beast. If you like open world gameplay, this is a must buy. If you like the western theme, this is a must buy. If you like great gaming and high adventure, this is a must buy. If you don't like the western theme, RDR won't make you like it. But it will make you love RDR.
I was playing RDR online with a friend and commented on how much I was enjoying myself. He too was rather enthusiastic about RDR and in my opinion, he had the perfect description of what RDR is. Red Dead Redemption, is the game Rockstar was meant to make.
This user review does not reflect the views of the PSX Extreme Staff.