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 Red Dead Redemption

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-drifter-

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PostSubject: Red Dead Redemption   Red Dead Redemption EmptyMon Mar 14, 2011 5:54 am

disclaimer:

Red Dead Redemption is a western game (no shit) developed over 5 years by R* San Diego and is the sequel to R* San Diego's 2004 western shoot 'em up, Red Dead Revolver, only following a different character, set in a different place during a different year and with vastly different mechanics. In other words, the Red Dead in the title and the western theme is about where the similarities end, so I fail to see why the even bothered to call it Red Dead Redemption when the games have nothing to do with one another. To my knowledge Revolver wasn't exactly a best seller so the brand recognition excuse doesn't really make much sense here.

The only explanation I can think of is that they wanted an excuse to keep Dead Eye around, a mechanic we'll discuss later, but plenty of other western games (read: all of them) seem to have some variant on the concept anyway so again, not really much of an explanation there.

But let's not linger too long on what the games do (or, more appropriately, don't) share. Redemption actually has more in common gameplay-wise with Neversoft's GUN, if GUN sucked a little less. It's a free roaming game that takes place across three small, fictional states on the border between America and Mexico, and follows the adventures of misanthropic everyman, John Marston, a former gang member who is forced by the government to track down and capture or kill his former brothers in arms.

Apparently not being much of one for planning ahead, John starts his mission by riding out to the fort where one of said gang members is holed up, asking him to surrender, and when that fails somehow, pulling his gun and getting immediately shot.

Luckily, all is not over, because that would be a really short game. John gets rescued by a couple of ranchers who get him fixed up. This time around John decides to take a more methodical approach, meeting a varied cast of characters who'll help him make preparations for an assault on the fort.

The story will take you through a number of missions structured in much the same way they were in Grand Theft Auto. Considering the game's sandbox structure, it's disappointing that the missions are all so incredibly linear, and while the first few are at least fairly varied, having you do anything from herding cows to performing trick shots and fist fighting, they quickly fall into a routine of riding somewhere and shooting everyone.

It's unfortunate, because shooting really isn't that fun. Like with most games these days, there's a cover system and regenerative health, neither of which are handled very well. Taking cover feels clunky and unnatural, and John has a lot of health that begins regenerating more or less instantly after being shot. On top of this, the AI is practically non-existent, with enemies who are quite content to just sit around in one spot forever, often out in the open.

Oh, and don't worry about running out of ammo, because oddly enough you can carry every gun in the game at the same time. This may not sound too strange; after all, games like Half-Life 2 did the same thing. But Half-Life 2 had 10 weapons, all of them fairly different. Red Dead Redemption has over 20, and many of them are just variants of the same thing. Did we really need four different repeaters?

All these things, and the Dead Eye mechanic (pretty much the only thing to carry over from Revolver,) which slows down time and allows you to paint targets on enemies which John then shoots, means that you may as well be invincible. It makes me question why some shops sell healing items, when you will never, ever need them.

Like with GTA the cast is composed mostly of unlikable caricatures, but the dialog is solid enough that you won't want to blow their heads off every time they open their mouths (which is good, since RDR doesn't let you kill them like in GTA4.)

Unfortunately, the storytelling isn't quite as well handled. Often times a character will promise to help John after he does some task for them, only for him to do it and not get anything in return, yet he just doesn't seem to care or even notice. Admittedly, great dialog, bad storytelling was a problem GTA4 suffered from too, so it's hardly a surprise to see RDR having the same issue.

Finally, the game has bugs up the ass like no one's business. If you manage to make it through the game without seeing at least one instance of flying carts or case people turning into origami figures, you have some pretty amazing luck.

So, I've had a lot of bad things to say about Red Dead Redemption, but don't think that it's a bad game. You see, while it certainly has it's fair share of flaws, they're balanced out by the things it does right.

The world for instance, is perhaps one of the best looking, most convincing sandbox worlds I've ever laid eyes on. You never get a sense that things were designed with a level editor, like you do in, say, Oblivion. Everything looks hand crafted and, more importantly, real. There are plenty of impressive little touches too. When you hear a crow caw, or a snake rattle, you're not just hearing ambient background noise; you can almost be certain that those sounds are coming from an actual animal.

There's no shortage of things to do in the world either. When you're not busy moving the plot forward, you can play mini-games like poker, break horses, hunt bounties, hunt animals, get scraps for outfits, complete challenges ranging from picking flowers to fighting two cougars with a knife, etc. There are plenty of ways to waste time.

And really, that's what Red Dead Redemption is best at. Not to sound too much like Yahtzee, but it's a time sink. Sure, there's a story, and it's better than most video game narratives, but it feels artificially lengthened and largely disconnected from the actual game, and there's little in the way of challenge to keep things interesting. For the most part, the only reason to do it is to unlock more of the map. RDR is at it's best when it's off-script. When it's just you and your horse riding along in the wilderness, reading an old map and hunting down treasure so you can finally unlock that legend of the west outfit.

One more thing: multiplayer. Red Dead Redemption has an interesting feature called Free Roam. In Free Roam, players have access to the entire map and can form possies with up to 7 other people, complete gang hideouts (areas of the map full of NPC outlaws to shoot,) and play land grab, a sort of "King of the Hill" feature where a player stakes a claim to a part of the map, and then everybody fights over it until the timer runs out. Whoever has it the longest wins and gets experience. Experience levels you up, and leveling up unlocks new characters to play as, new and better mounts to ride, and new guns.

And... that's about it for multiplayer. Once you've finished all the gang hideouts, there's not much left to do but keep grinding them for exp. There are also your standard multiplayer modes like deathmatch, team deathmatch and a few variants of capture-the-flag (here replaced by bags of gold,) and they aren't a bad way to get exp, but otherwise they're pretty unremarkable. Overall multiplayer feels like a fairly barren MMO, one where 99% of everyone else is a complete dick. Seriously, chances are that if you another player sees you, they will try to kill you (often even if you're in the same possy.) Although, R* has implemented a "Friendly" mode now, so at least there's that.

Summary: Red Dead Redemption succeeds more as a fucking around simulator than as a game. The mechanics are weak and the story feels disconnected and artificially lengthened. However, the beauty of the game world and the large number of things to do mean that there's still plenty of enjoyment to be had.

Recommendation: Buy it. This is one title that will last you a while.

Next up: The expansions!
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sexbad

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dead Redemption   Red Dead Redemption EmptyMon Mar 14, 2011 6:37 am

will get it when it eventually comes out for PC
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AnonymousAdam

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dead Redemption   Red Dead Redemption EmptyMon Mar 14, 2011 4:29 pm

Very nive review in my own humble opinion. And dont worry, that wasnt very long.
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-drifter-

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dead Redemption   Red Dead Redemption EmptyMon Mar 14, 2011 8:40 pm

Sexbad wrote:
will get it when it eventually comes out for PC

I wouldn't hold my breath.
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sexbad

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PostSubject: Re: Red Dead Redemption   Red Dead Redemption EmptyTue Mar 15, 2011 3:11 am

It will. Nearly all other Rockstar games do eventually. I only want to play it on a console as a last resort mainly because of how shooters work (or rather, don't) with a pad. There's either no aimbot and you feel handicapped by poor controls, or there's Rockstar aimbot like I experienced in GTAIV on my brother's PS3 a long time ago where it locks on too easily and refuses to let go.
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