Red Dead Redemption is an open world game set in the Wild West. It follows the story of John Marston. His family have been kidnapped and he is on a mission to get them back. Throughout the story we discover new areas, meet lots of new people and learn about John’s past on his quest for redemption.
It took me a long time to get into this game. I am a long time fan of GTA – I love the stories, the characters, the settings, the humour and the freedom – and had heard great things about RDR. The western theme didn’t really do anything for me at first. However, as the game went on I appreciated it more and more and actually grew to like it. Now when my Mam is watching her old western program The High Chaparral I can’t help but smile.
At first, the missions didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. I felt like I was playing for hours, running around doing favors for these characters but still not getting anywhere. It wasn’t drawing me back to play. I did want to know what was going to happen but I ended up taking a break and playing Heavy Rain the whole way through before continuing Red Dead. Once I got further in I started enjoying it a bit more. It still felt like it was a lot of helping people with nothing in return but I started enjoying the journey more. I think by now I had gotten used to the controls a lot more and that helped with the enjoyment. Even though I felt like the story was lacking while I was playing, by the time I got to the end it blew me away. I think I could enjoy playing through a second time just as much, if not more!
The random events seem to be highly praised by fans, and although I do like them, I thought there were too many of them at the beginning. I couldn’t go anywhere without someone stopping me and asking for help when all I wanted to do was explore. Especially when I wasn’t comfortable with the controls, I would either get killed, kill the good guy or just fail. Now I’ve realised that you can just ignore them if you want. Having said that there are some great random things going on around the world, always something to keep you entertained and amused. Hearing background gunfire used to always set me on edge – I think that’s from GTA, usually if someone’s shooting they are shooting at you – but if you look around it’s usually people hunting or robbing people and you do not have to get involved if you don’t want to, and if you do then go for it. Watch out for Cougars though, pesky things!
Now that I have finished the game, I can’t decide whether I prefer this or GTA more, and that’s MASSIVE considering how much I love GTA. I think I love them both for different reasons. I love the fact that in this game you can shoot your gun and not worry about getting a wanted level. One of the things I like least about GTA is escaping the police, I always used to use the cheats. On RDR though, I didn’t have to use cheats once. Although I don’t fully understand it, I prefer the justice system in this game, it’s much more realistic with the witnesses and the bounties. I also liked the regenerating health. I played the first few hours thinking that the dead eye bar was my health and wondering why I was dying with full health but once I realised I soon learned the signs that I was going to die. It’s good for people like me who collect medicine but are too stingy to use it to just get under cover and regain some health.
The structure of the game is very similar to GTA. You have a map that expands as you get further into the game. You have your main story missions, there are usually a couple on the go at the same time and you can choose which you want to do first. You have your side-missions which are the Strangers, similar to GTA 5. You also have Ambient Challenges that include Sharpshooter and Master Hunter, where in GTA you would have the Shooting Range and Flight School. In GTA you had mini games like Bowling and Pool where as in RDR you get Poker and Blackjack. The controls are also very similar in both games, the main difference is you are riding a horse instead of driving a car. It’s a little bit different but once you get used to it it’s quite enjoyable.
Something that I think would have made the game even better would be more loot/more things to do with the loot that you have collected. It would be cool if you could create clothes with animal skins, cook the meat for health, things like that. That would have added another dimension. By the end of the game I realised there wasn’t too much point in searching buildings because all there was was the odd chest with a bit of money in. Another thing I was hoping for was to have a working ranch, where I could go out and break horses then those horses would stay in my field until I sold them etc, making an honest income and running a business. It doesn’t spoil the game that it wasn’t there but it would have been a nice addition and maybe something they can do in the future.
My version of the game was bought second hand and must have had some of the DLC included because I had the War Horse which I think totally enhanced my game. He had great stamina and speed, was quite hardy and the odd time he died I just used the deeds and he came back. I appreciated him very much, there were a couple of times that I accidentally hitched/stole different horses and none of them compared to him. Fantastic Horse.
In conclusion, give it a go! If you like other Rockstar games, give it a go! If you like a good story, give it a go! If you like cowboys, definitely give it a go! If you do give it a go and aren’t keen, keep at it, it might grow on you, it did for me! I know I’m about 5 years late to the party but I’m pleased I made it. I have yet to try online mode, I doubt there will be anyone still playing (but if anyone wants to give me a shout), first I want to get 100% completion then I’m going for platinum. It must have been a good game to put in that effort!
SPOILERS AHEAD – DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED THE STORY
I had read bits and bobs before I started playing and had read somewhere that you get to play as John’s son. Near the end I was wondering when that would be but didn’t think too much about it, I thought that maybe at the end you would be able to switch between the two like in GTA 5. The end therefore took me very much by surprise.
I have to say I think it was very well done. Being allowed to go back to his family and spending some time with them living their happy ever after, I thought if anything tragic was going to happen that they might die. Never in a million years did I expect John to die. When it happened I think I went through the five stages of grief within a few minutes.. Before he opened the barn doors I was getting geared up to kill them all through the window or something but I wasn’t getting the chance. He opened the door and it went into dead eye and I wasn’t expecting it. I got as many shots as I could but that was only about 3 or 4. First I thought I’d knacked it up, I’d already died a million times before so it was no surprise, but then his death scene kept going and it wasn’t resetting. When it then went over to Jack and Abigail and they turned around I then thought ‘oh they are going to save him’.. even though he had a hundred bullets in him… but no, they found him dead.
If I wasn’t upset enough, when it zoomed out from his grave and showed Abigail’s as well, and of course Uncle’s, I was very close to tears! When I regained control, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I just sat there staring at the screen. It wasn’t till that point that I realised how much I actually enjoyed the game and cared for the characters. When I finally accepted what had happened, I had a ride around with Jack but found his voice very irritating so I loaded my last save before the end and proceeded to carry on with the side missions.
I’m quite sad that there was no happy ending. Everything John did seemed to be in vain. Used by the government, wasn’t pardoned. Helped the Mexican Army, got betrayed. Helped the rebels, allowed a new – probably just as bad – dictator to take over. Did his best for his son not to turn out like him, son turns out exactly like him. There was no part of the game that was satisfying in the sense that something changed for the better. However, the more I think about it the more I like that. That’s real. I’m still heart broken but it was a bold move and it paid off.
Overall, it has been a great game. There is plenty to do and I am still interested enough to get 100% which I think speaks for itself.