Howdy. Red Dead Redemption must be one of your favorite games. No? Well, that’s odd because it’s one of the best open-world games I’ve had in a while. Rockstar Games always had a reputation for creating huge sandbox worlds, and I can say that the world and story of RDR is the best from Rockstar that I’ve had so far.
You will be playing as John Marston, a former gang member who’s had a change of heart for the sake of his family. Sent by the government on a quest to kill two of his former colleagues, he will then roam the vast lands of Western America and Mexico. You will be meeting plenty of new friends and enemies on the way, all of them gun-wielding so always beware.
First off, the atmosphere is perfect. The portrayals of westerners of the 1800’s feel real and it’s as if you’re meeting real people and not just NPCs. This is achieved by the great voice acting and good writing. John Marston was a good mix of smartmouthed hero and killer in cold blood, and is also portrayed as a good family man. The various landmarks, the structure of the houses, the random patches of green, the city, they all look great especially when painted a hue of red by the sunset. The lighting in Red Dead Redemption is superb, and this is very important since you are set in a particularly dry and sunny environment.
The setting complimented the story very well, and each encounter with a new person is always filled with anticipation of who is it, should I shoot him, and so on. I have to say, the ending is very unpredecented for me, even though it has been spoiled to me while I was still early in the storyline. I was reading forums on how to win duels, when this guy spoils that John dies at the end. I didn’t want to believe it, but I remembered those words and actually felt kinda sad because I hate spoilers with a passion.
(*Spoiler Alert: Spoilers in this paragraph*) Anyway I continued on, and when I thought I was already at the end (When you were riding with De Santa to Chuparosa), I was waiting for John Marston to die but he didn’t, so I thought maybe the spoiler was a lie after all. I succeeded in my mission and brought Escuela and Williamson to Blackwater, then I was also sent to kill the gang leader Dutch. When I killed him, there was a scene where I thought John was going to get shot by the cop, but he wasn’t. And then when I thought I was going to leave peacefully with my wife and kid, there comes the scene where he gets surrounded by a whole squad of uniforms, and got shot to death. It was a sad ending, but it only reinforced that John Marston is an awesome man. An alternate ending would have been nice though.
Now for the gameplay, it was fun but relatively short compared to other Rockstar Games. I guess there’s just not that much to do on an 18th century western world because I finished the game in 15 hours, and that time already includes those spent for extracurricular activities like hunting, sidequests, and just horsing around. There are plenty of activities that you can enjoy on towns and villages like poker, blackjack, arm wrestling, and more. You will also be occassionally invited by strangers to gun duels. You can also take part in nightwatches where you will serve as patrol during the night. There are bars where you can get in brawls and get drunk, and I suggest you try it because it’s funny.
Visuals are great. West America and Mexico are still distinct from each other and each has locations that are quite unique and beautiful to look at. There are animals that are native to a certain place so you might want to check each spot of the map if you want to skin every animal there is or break each species of horse. Again, the lighting was superb, and the weather effects are nicely implemented.
The sounds are fine for the most part, but the music could use more variety. You will often be riding from village to village, and the journey can feel dull because all you hear is somber music and the galloping of the horse. There are different tracks to fit the situation you are currently in, but I think it could have been better with a radio. Too bad radios weren’t around during the 1800’s.
Technically, there are glitches but none gamebreaking. Also, I can’t seem to get the sound effects a little softer while the volume of the music and dialogue stays the same so at night I have to turn the subtitles on to understand the story without waking anyone up.
So there are my thoughts about Red Dead Redemption. It might have been a short journey, but that only made it even more memorable. I enjoyed every mission in the game, and I hoped that Undead Nightmare would have been a great time too (I got the GOTY edition of RDR) but I guess I couldn’t get invested in zombie games now. Still, the tale of John Marston is an absolute gem, a classic that everyone should hear of.