Red Dead Redemption – review
The Wild West is a term that we associate with Indians, cowboys, gunslingers and lawlessness. Thanks to the above, and many other factors a genre of literature and film called “Western” was created. As far as tons of books and movies were produced, there are quite few games. Fortunately, the Western genre in games is not dying, but rather is in very well condition. Whether the latest work of Rockstar Games, Red Dead Redemption, beats on the head most of existing western games?
(This was my very first review)
The story takes place in 1911. John Marston comes to the town of Blackwater accompanied by government officials. They have his family kept as hostage, so John has no choice, he must execute their commands. He has to catch his former gang members who terrorize the surrounding sites. So begins the story, maybe a little inconspicuous. All the twists, few “endings” that are not the true ending (which is epic) are worthy of Academy Award. Charismatic characters have their own problems. In this production we want to see these problems, they’re just interesting. After the first few missions, you will not be able to wait to see more. The ending is very memorable. I do not want to reveal more because you have to taste it yourself and then throw yourself on a table full of succulent delicacies.
The game area is huge. The map is divided into three parts: Mexican Nuevo Paraiso and two American: New Austin and West Elizabeth. The terrain is shaped really well, there’s no invisible walls. When we see a mountain, rock or something similar in a very large distance, you can be 100% sure that there is a way to get to it. Vegetation bends in the wind, but also reacts to the movement of physical bodies, that is to say, people, animals, objects. The number of animals that can be found in the game (34 species of wild and domestic) is also large. One of the most interesting is the bison, which is represented by 20 pieces and if you kill them all they will no longer show (there is a trophy for this). The game runs on the RAGE engine, which in my opinion is much more suited for games with huge, open space (as is the case in Red Dead Redemption), rather than for overcrowded with people, buildings and cars Liberty City in GTA IV. Sticking with the topic of technology it is worth mentioning that Rockstar implemented to the Euphoria engine (also used in GTA IV and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) to the game. That engine makes each action in the game, even repeated, to always give a different effect. For example, if I drop out of the canyon in the same place five times in a row, I always fall differently. This gives the game much more real feeling.
Great piece of land and physical effects is not everything in the game. You need to fill this place up with hills, canyons, rivers, plants, animals, sounds and of course people. Here the team Rockstar must be applauded. Here the team Rockstar must be applauded. Here the team Rockstar must be applauded. The game is really beautiful, and the map is diverse. Everything fits together. Towns and ranches have been really well, reliably designed. Models and textures of animals, especially horses, which is the main means of transport have been developed so well, as in no other game. Riding on horseback you can see the horse’s muscles working, and the mane and tail are dependent on physical factors. Trees and other plants differ in not giving copy effect. There are even pending, dry shrubs known from Westerns. Facial expression, grimacing and character animations are similar to those in GTA IV, but in my opinion, more refined. Although most of the elements are not the best quality, but for medium/long distance views and textures are really breathtaking. That is the nature of RAGE engine.
The music heard in the game brings to mind the most famous soundtracks of the best Westerns. It is varied, so monotone does not come into play. In addition, the PS3 version features the possibility of listening to your own music from your console. A little bonus, but how nice. The sounds of nature, which can be heard even in the main menu of the game are really well done. Animals, storm, rain. Everything is realistic and thunders may scare you. The voices of the actors are very well blended, add charisma to characters and sometimes hidden agenda.
In addition to the main plot missions, which like in GTA IV always start with an introducing video, there are also side quests that are also available from strangers (the so-called Stranger Tasks), which also bear the cutscenes in progress. They are not required to complete the story, but you have to do them all if we want to catch 100% of the game and/or a Platinum trophy. There are still random tasks that we can left untouched or run/canter at call to complete them all. They usually rely on catching a thief or a kidnapper. When you go through the prairies, you can come across a bunch of bandits who trick travellers and rob them. There are really a lot of these tasks and thanks to them you can get to know life and problems of citizens, who we help or not. The choice is yours.
That is just another element – karma – in the form of honor and fame. Depending on what you do in this matter, you get positive or negative points. Fame is growing independently of the polarity of the actions of the protagonist, so you can be holy protector of the oppressed or rotten to the bone thug. When you want to do something contrary to your nature and do not spoil your honor, you can set up a bandanna and kill as much as you wish.
Aiming system is very similar to that of GRAND THEFT AUTO IV. There is a slight modification called “Dead Eye”. It slows down time, allowing you to aim easily aim for example five heads of enemies, which will result in five headshots. “Dead Eye” has three levels that unlock during the transition of the story. The idea is similar to that of Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, but it is limited only by an easy to recharge bar. It can be even restored by some items available in the shop. And, at this point we come to the seller, and more specifically to the gunsmith and the topic of weapons. Guns are divided into several groups. Weapons differ not only in appearance, but also power, accuracy, magazine capacity and rate of fire.
Between missions or while resting from killing people, you can really do a lot of things. The game is equipped with about ten mini games which are very entertaining. They allow you to earn money and tune your honor or fame points. These are among others. Poker (Texas Hold’em), Blackjack, horseshoes, arm wrestling, horse taming, patrolling the ranches or duels. For example, when you play poker, one of the players may accuse you of cheating (there is such possibility) and he will challenge you for a fight. Dueling is somewhat similar to that of Call of Juarez, but not the same. When it begins, the time slows down (Dead Eye effect) and after a couple of seconds you pull out your gun (there is a possibility to pull the gun earlier, but the damage will be decreased), select quickly the spots on the enemy and shoot. In the lower right corner there are two bars that will fill depending on which spots you choose. The duel is won by the one, who first fills the bar, or if the time runs out, who has the most full bar. Simple and efficient.
Although life renews automatically, you can sometimes buy medicines and other odds and ends from the store. For example, you can buy rabbit paw which will increase the amount of items and money found on the corpses of people and animals. We can then sell them in the shop and buy a better horse for example. I will mention just a few more opportunities to spend time in Red Dead Redemption. The first is clearing gang hideouts. They are unlocked after finishing some main plot missions. Then we are able to help the sheriff, or a pair of treasure hunters in killing the gang. It is connected with Rockstar Games Social Club which displays the results of what we have achieved on the Internet. There are also other activities like drinking alcohol (which results in some known effects) or buying newspapers which contain information about the game world and not only. You can find information about the doings of the hero, but also historical facts (even about Poland). The last thing about what I write in this paragraph is a lasso. We get it after a few missions at the beginning of the game. It allows you to catch horses, but also people which gives considerable opportunities for fun. You can pull a poor guy behind you. Or tie him (or her) up and put under a train. There are still more and more things to explore.
A few words about the multiplayer. Red Dead Redemption allows you to play in standard mode and the so-called Free Roam. It allows you to hang out with 15 other people and go crazy all over the map from the singleplayer mode. You can hunt alone for more bears or clear gang hideout with a posse. In a free DLC some cooperative missions have been made available, which only adds to the charm of the already very good multiplayer mode. There is also a standard experience system which allows you to gain levels – very similar to that of Call of Duty (there is even a prestige mode after getting the 50th level. The multiplayer is not boring because there is always something interesting to do.
Is the game perfect? For some, for others not. The downsides can be a few bugs and glitches, which really does not interfere in the game experience. If a horse loses some algorithm or something disappears, it doesn’t matter. These examples are from the Internet. Personally, I didn’t have occasion to meet with nothing but disappearing textures during one of the poker parties.
The only visible problem may be connected to the multiplayer mode. Sometimes I was thrown out of the Free Roam or a match, but only shortly after joining the game. Probably there are some problems between connected players, which has the effect of removing some of them. Usually after second or third approach everything seems to be working.
Red Dead Redemption is a 10 out of 10. It is an outstanding game with an epic storyline, a great “sandbox” system, beautiful landscapes and a very playable multiplayer. This game deserves a really long list of flattery. Certainly it is one of the best games of this and the next decade.