Red Dead Redemption Review

Red Dead Redemption Review

Here is a Red Dead Redemption Review by: Ankokuu

Rating: 10 / 10

"Oh no, I suddenly feel very ill! (Psst... I'm gonna call in sick and witness a bit of gaming history!)"

I apologize for the bad attempt to have a witty tagline for my review, now before I begin the actual review I just want you to know that I didn't get mighty impressed by Rockstar's previous big title: Grand Theft Auto IV. After the initial shock it was all back to the dated games we played to death on our PS2/PSP. It had some fun moments but overall it felt like a step backwards with its awkward controls and design choices and it didn't deliver enough to justify the massive hype and expectations. It was a good game at best but the ratings it got from professional reviews was um... not what I would've given the game.

For this reason I was worried that Red Dead Redemption is also gonna be a letdown... The good news is that the feeling of that anxiety got blown away after just 15-20 minutes of gameplay.

Many folks mistakenly believe that RDR is just a GTA-game set in the Wild West. Let me state the facts: it isn't. If it was then I wouldn't give it a high rating, remember my GTAIV rundown moments ago? There are many gameplay elements in RDR that makes it very different from GTAIV. The hunting, bounties, treasures, transportation, gambling and various challenges make it a unique and fresh experience. Also the story moves on very differently from typical GTA games. First of all you don't play as a criminal trying to advance to the top of the crime hierarchy. And you certainly don't always get jobs or assignments from criminals. The only minor similarity it has from GTAIV is some map interface and transportation tools to easily pinpoint missions and shortcuts. It's more than just a brainless open sandbox game.

You play as John Marston, a badass and utterly fearless former outlaw who despite his intimidating looks is very civilized, wise and gentle-man like. He has a dark past which he tries to distant himself from and he is out to straighten his life out, he wishes no one ill or harm. But push him enough and he will not hesitate to show you that he still got "it". The protagonist is very likable and seem very mature. As you progress more in the game you will like him more because of his knight-like chivalry. He got all the characteristics for a great protagonist: humor, courage, sharp-tongued and a likable personality. I can't think of a better protagonist for game set in a Wild West saga, never once in the game did I grow bored of him or felt he being ridiculous or "lacking". He is simply the man.

9.5 of 10
One thing that initially surprised me in RDR is that the atmosphere in the world is so much serious compared to GTA. I expected the pedestrians to be whacky spiced with that typical "Rockstar humor". But this is not the case in RDR, you will be surprised to see that your fame and honor system affects how the people reacts to you. People will greet and praise you if you are being helpful to the society and will welcome you with open arms. By being less helpful to the society by robbing, killing people and committing various crimes, people will fear you and stores for example will not have you as a customer. It's likeFallout 3, there is consequences for all actions you take. You can if you want to fall in a Postal-dude coma and kill, rob innocent people senselessly and get away with it but the game rewards you more if you are "good". It can be fun to toss a dynamite in a full packed saloon and setting preachers on fire or lasso prostitutes and drag them around the town on a horse, but ultimately the police force and the bounty hunters pose so much of a threat that it will simply be too much of a hassle to deal with. It's not worth it and they will in one way or another gun you down or arrest you and sentence you to either death or jail.

By visiting towns anything could happen, you will sometimes see some harsh brutal events that let's you decide how to solve the problem. If you see a man trying to kill a prostitute, what will you do? Kill him or her? Kill both? Do nothing? If someone gets robbed will you return the money to the owner and let the criminal live or not? This is the kind of freedom the game gives you and it will affect your honor and fame depending on your choice of action. There is a lot of variety when it comes to events both in towns and outside of towns. Some events will get you baffled and puzzled like when someone is committing suicide in middle of no-where, some events is a split-second decision between life and death. The Wild West is harsh place but sometimes you will meet friendly people that invites you for a little camp-chat or challenge you with various funny mini-games. But it is mostly harsh so don't hesitate to shoot first and ask questions later, when John Marston kills a enemy he usually says: "If it ain't me its someone else". Which reflects the harsh atmosphere of the Wild West. By becoming more famous and honorable or dis-honorable you get various benefits and people will either love or hate you.

In this game not only is outlaws and and bandits your enemies. Some animals would love to have you as a meal and this is one of the RDR's biggest highlights and experience: the hunting and interactions with various animal. The hunting in this game is so satisfying and exciting that it puts famous hunting games like Cabela's Big Game Hunter etc.. to shame. There are a impressive amount of animals everything from dangerous predators, harmless mammals and many species of birds. The hunting is very dynamic and every hunting session never feels the same. Hunting has many benefits and plays a important role in RDR, you will get money for trading in pelts, feather and various meats skinned from animals. The game offers many crazy and interesting challenges like for example killing a grizzly bear with a melee knife. Hunting can go very smooth or terribly wrong as every animal have their own unique physics and behavior. They are randomly generated and they don't show up on the map so you have to resort to your sight and hearing ability to spot them. Cougars are stealthy and will try to ambush you while wolves likes to overwhelm you with sheer numbers, boars and grizzly bears will attack you ferociously and kill you in a blink of a eye. No death feels cheap or cheesy if you die you have yourself to blame for. The animal killing and skinning is very realistically depicted in this game so it may not be something you appreciate if you love animals, but hey remember its just a game. There is a small and hilarious discussion about the ethics of killing animals in the game between a Indian and a Yale professor which is not to be missed! The animals doesn't feel scripted and they feel very realistic, you will never know what will happen if you get careless. One minor letdown is that you can't skip the skinning animations, it will get tiresome to see same animations over and over again to skin a group of animals.

Aside from epic and memorable exploration the treasure hunting is another highlight to be experienced. It features one of the most difficult and challenging tasks ever seen in a game. It have some frustrating extreme spikes in difficulty depending on which treasure you hunt for, the world is so big and detailed it makes it hard to decipher some of the treasure maps. Some treasures are so easy to spot that even a child can figure out but some are so hard to figure out it will most likely make you resort to FAQs. If you figure out the maps yourself after many hours of exploration to finally find the treasure the satisfaction is so sweet and unique that its rarely experienced or seen in a game. Completing the treasure part can be seen as a pure intelligence test as it will push your way of thinking and your experience of the world in the game to the limits. Either you will love it or hate it. You can also harvest and collect various herbs around the world in similar fashion seen in World of Warcraft, unlike hunting and skinning its fast-paced and can done quick but be careful not to do it when you are surrounded by dangerous animals or people as it will leave you vulnerable to attacks. The variety in this game is excellent and the various challenges (sharpshooting, hunting, survivalist etc..) is fun to do and will reward you with great benefits and buffs if you complete them.

If this wasn't enough there are also strangers marked as "?" spread around the world that will give you side-missions that often has hilarious outcomes. If you know your Wild West history It makes homage to real crimes committed during those times like a certain infamous cannibal incidence but also it deals with more obscure and controversial themes like zoophilia. To clarify there are something here for everyone, the variety is just like story-missions: excellent. Some side-missions are also very serious and emotionally gripping and do not always have a happy and funny ending. You can also accept to hunt for wanted outlaws who have a large sum of bounty on their head. Take them down alive and deliver them to the sheriff will get you paid more than killing them, because outlaws will hunt you relentlessly if you kidnap their leader. Disarming criminals and hogtie them then put them on the back of your horse is very easy and work very good. If don't have time to hogtie them you can lasso them from your horse and drag them where ever you want. Also there are many gang hideouts to clear that are fun and can be replayed as many times as you want. If you want a break from all the intense action, the gambling and various relaxing and fun mini-games are at your disposal. Games like Texas hold'emblackjack and also unqiue ones like five finger filethorseshoeand arm wrestling. The mini-games all offer a great variety and they are not only fun but can make you rich if you know the game. Those who are unfamiliar with card and dice games this game has a brilliant step-to-step foolproof tutorial to make you understand the rules.

Some transportation in this game can be a minor letdown like the train, its rather slow and cannot be skipped like wagon-taxi's. But the most important and best transportation in this game is the not so surprisingly the simple horse. The horse physics in this game is flawless, last time I played a game where the horse mount felt so fluid and responsive was from Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when you control Epona. The horses come in many varieties and species and they all have different speed. The sense of speed is so great that sometimes you feel like you are riding a fast car instead of a horse. You have one blue bar which lets you can boost the speed of your horse momentarily and the horse will automatically jump over obstacles like fences. The stamina bar will replenish by time if you let go it, but if you want it replenished at once you can feed your horse with food like apples. Surprisingly shooting from horse mount is also easy and satisfying but it can be tricky to switch weapons so it needs a bit of practicing. If you get tired of horses you can always switch to mules and various wagons, which is equally fun and satisfying. The wagons are less fast than riding on a horse and have a tighter controls but the way the physics play with bumps and sliding makes it very fun to use. If you get far from your horse you can whistle to conveniently bring it close to you no matter where you are as long as it isn't dead. Sometimes on high canyons and ledges the horse will come to you but will fall off and die, these bugs are very minor and it will not happen often thankfully. One questionable design choice is that when your horse jump over ledges that are a few feet high it will strangely get you damaged and sometimes kill you! It makes no sense that the rider dies or get damaged when a horse jump off from a low height. If we wanna be realistic the horse can break a leg or two but the rider shouldn't die, so it feels very awkward and cheap to die this way. If you take blind eye on that issue the horse controls and physics is flawless, mounting and un-mounting horses is very fluid and you can explore and hunt, chase criminals with ease. Apart from your weapons the horse is your best friend in this game.

This game will not leave you disappointed when it comes to firefights but the melee system is not quite satisfying as the firefights. They are very few melee fights and it doesn't offer much variety so you will rarely use it. The knife can be used to dispatch enemies silently but that isn't necessary when you have a boomstick that will obliterate your foes with ease. The aiming system is just like in Max Payne, the reticule is only one tiny white dot which gives you pinpoint accuracy. The aiming is so accurate that you can shoot off the hats of people without hurting them. There is a working cover system but in 8/10 cases you don't need to use it because enemies will not kill you in one shot. You can take a lot of punishment while enemies are the opposite. The "normal" aiming system will quickly auto-lock on your enemies so you can quickly kill enemies by switching targets fast. If you want a more realistic and challenging experience switch to "expert" controls. This is where the system of theDead Eye is important which is the trademark of the Read Dead games. When you get outnumbered using the Dead Eyealmost freezes the time and let you mark multiple targets to finish them off, exactly like its predecessor Read Dead Revolver. When you get overwhelmed or are close of dying the Dead Eye can be your life-saver, it has a tactical use but you can't use it infinitely. The red bar represents the Dead Eye bar and it will only refill when you kill enemies outside of that mode and by consuming various potions. The game offers a excellent variety of different weapons that captures the essence of the Wild West. Everything from classic six-shooters to rifles, repeaters and shotguns. There are also advanced foreign weaponry available that are still under development. The throw-able weapons packs a serious punch too and can be fun to be used too. There is also some old-school mini-gun turrets to use and they are also fun and satisfying.

The story moves on when you approach important persons that is relevant to your mission. It's similar to mission progress you have seen in GTA-games. You can replay any of your favorite missions and aim for the best rank how many times as you want. Some missions can be solved differently but ultimately it won't change the story. There are some great boss battles and duels which is memorable. Duels are just like Red Dead Revolver, it starts slow then suddenly hell breaks lose leaving either you dead or alive.

I could write forever about this game because it have some much content and depth but it is more than just a open world sandbox game. It have so much variety and high quality content with top production values that will get you unhealthily engaged to the game. It will get you hooked badly but keep in mind that rushing through the game is not recommended. The vast world demands to be explored and all available mini-games and side-missions is simply too good to pass. Even the hilarious silent theater is something not to be missed. The only thing that falls short is that John can neither swim or do any fishing. He can cross shallow rivers that's the closest thing he can interact with water. Fishing mini-games are nowadays mainstream in almost all adventure-type games, while it isn't important it would've make a nice variety to the hunting and harvest aspect of the game.

9.5 of 10
The story is very original and exciting without resorting to tired cliches, it also have some awesome plot twists. The story will keep you guessing and the final parts will impress you very much because some very unexpected turn of events will happen. John will meet with many memorable and likable characters that are both funny and interesting. The Mexican and the Irish are most funny but the Americans are fun too but not quite as the foreigners. There are also Chinese and Germans, Indians but they have a brief and forgetful appearances. The story will have John Marston involved in all sorts of situations and affairs. It never feels boring and you are guaranteed to get some laughs or be emotionally touched. Or get downright pissed. The story never feels ridiculous or cheap.

9.6 of 10
Remember how you felt when you for the first time played Gears of War or Resident Evil 5? Yes, you will get the same feeling and be blown away by the fantastic graphics. The RAGE engine have never looked this good, it makes GTAIV's graphics feel very archaic even though they share the same engine. It have some of the best looking and realistic HDR, lighting even seen in a game. The colors don't look washed out and the high-res textures look great with lots of details. It will leave you breathless no matter where you ride with your horse in the game. The canyons, prairie, swamps, mountains, no area in this game feels "gimped". The designers didn't spare any effort they went all out. It is one of the most atmospheric game I ever experienced. I dislike seeing someone play a game while I sit and do nothing but RDR is a exception. I can sit and watch this one because any day that passes in the game is never the same, there is always a different sunset and other effects to be amazed at and it simply never ceases to amaze me. All parts in this game: New AustinMexico and West Elizabeth is so frighteningly detailed and breathes life. It holds lots of merits and various landscapes is very realistic and believable. It will literally leave you breathless for its scale and quality.

The sharp and high quality graphics is only matched by very impressive animations. Shoot for instance just next to a dog and see what it does. Let it attack a person and see how it behaves and moves. Look at your horse when it moves and you can see their muscle contraction! Just let John stand still and do nothing and see what he does, he will wipe away dust, swat off flies/mosquito, wipe of sweat etc.. Even the most irrelevant things like pigs in this game have impressive physics and realistic animations. Shoot people in the groin and they will fall holding it. Kill enemies and leave the corpse to see flies gather around them and vultures circle them. Shoot off enemies from their horse and see how amazing the animations are. The animation can't simply be described by mere words, it must be seen and experienced to be justified. There are very minor graphical and animation bugs, it feels very polished and not rushed at all. No screen-tearing or any noticeably fps drop was seen. It struggled a bit with the fps on certain parts of the West Elizabeth areas mainly the woods where there are so many animals densely packed.

9.6 of 10
The soundtracks are magnificent, its like they have been ripped from your favorite spaghetti western movies. Depending on where in the world you are the music changes constantly to fit the setting. The dialogues are of very high quality and some are outright hilarious. The English used in the game feels very authentic like its from that era. The brief Spanish you learned fromResident Evil 4 will come in handy when you visit Mexico because they use the same dialect as the Ganados and you will understand some familiar profanities, threats and lines. The Spanish isn't translated in English but you get hang of it. I just love the different dialects and all the harmless jokes said about the Irish, British, Jews, Indians etc... The dialogues just like the music is of highest quality and it never gets boring or feel out of place.

Play Time
9.5 of 10
It takes about 35-40 hours or more to finish it depending on how much you want to invest in completing challenges or collecting outfits. Add 15-20 hours more if you try to tackle the treasure hunting challenges with its sudden spikes in difficulty without resorting to FAQs or assistance. My guess is that very few persons will find the treasures easily. When the game is finished you can continue play the game offline and replay gang hideouts or missions to get better score or try to attain 100% completion. The multiplayer really makes this game a keeper because its fun modes and variety. There are deathmatches and capture the flag modes known as shootout and grab the bag. There is also a free roam mode where you can join up cooperatively with friends and do all sort of things. Kill each other, completing gang hideouts or just fool around. You will get experience by completing objectives and rise in ranks and then be able to change your character model, weapon etc.. just like many multiplayer games. Rockstar isn't shy when it comes to meaty DLC's so there is a good reason to keep this game.

9.6 of 10
Read Dead Redemption is one of those very few games that makes you wanna call in sick and isolate yourself from the world to play it to death. It fulfills all criteria to be a triple AAA title: high production values, gorgeous visuals and animations, great story and dialogues, awesome atmosphere and soundtracks. But most importantly it is fun to play with its great variety of gameplay. It is a delicacy, instant-classic, very memorable and won't certainly not be forgotten. It is a giant leap from its predecessor Read Dead Revolver. In one way or another I will guarantee that it will impress you even if you don't like western games. For once the majority of top professionals reviewers have given this game a right and fair rating unlike GTAIV. This game is fantastic and must be experienced. If you want a raw, brutal, gritty, mature and a badass action/adventure game that doesn't have any cute references like Hello Kitty then Red Dead Redemption is your first stop. This game is so good that even Charlton Heston may rise from his grave. I will go as far as saying that this a bit of gaming history. Rockstar just rocked my world!

Overall Pros
+Fantastic visuals and animations
+Awesome dialogues and story
+Variety of gameplay
+Responsive controls and horse physics
+Emotionally touching moments
+Awesome missions and firefights
+Lots of side-missions
+Highly atmospheric and immersive
+High production values
+Likable protagonist and companions
+Bang for the buck
+Lengthy offline content
+Awesome multiplayer
+Difficulty is acceptable

Overall Cons
-Weak melee combat
-Some questionably design choices (Dying from low heights while riding a horse)
-No swimming or fishing
-Skinning animations cannot not be skipped
-Outfits cannot be customized
-Minor graphical bugs
-Treasure hunting can have a sudden extreme spike in difficulty
-Silent theater have not many movies
-Sex-scenes and strong contents cannot be turned off
-Train transportation can be long, tedious and can't be skipped
Reviewer's Score: 10/10, Originally Posted: 05/19/10
Game Release: Red Dead Redemption (US, 05/18/10)