Why I wouldn’t buy Red Dead Redemption
On first look, this game ticks all the boxes. Does it have cowboys? Yes! Horses? Yes! Cool, nonchalant main character? Yes! Set in the Wild West? Hell yes! I was sold. Although as it turned out, my boyfriend bought me the game as a present to cheer me up so I didn’t even have to pay for it. But is it any good?
Graphics: Quite frankly, I’d say the graphics in this game are OK. Some of the big landscape shots are impressive, the horses and humans are well animated and the graphics certainly aren’t bad. But there’s been nothing so far to really make me pay attention.
The nature of the Wild West setting means that opportunities for interesting locations and landscapes are limited, and at this point in the game (many hours in), I feel like I’m ready for something new. In the first third of the game, you move from America over to Mexico to progress the story. At this point I thought the scenery might become more interesting, but instead it was actually more bleak and barren. In a game where such a large amount of your time is spent wandering the landscape, I was a little disappointed at this.
Story: Pffft. Well, I would share the story with you, but I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. From what I gather, the main protagonist ‘John Marsden’ (the role you assume), has got some beef with a guy he used to roll with. You spend the rest of the game trying to track this guy down, making friends and enemies along the way. Trouble is, I find the talking parts of this game so dull, I tend to tune out when they start. Maybe that’s my fault, but it doesn’t say much for how engaging the storyline is. In the way that Grand Theft Auto is designed around making the game fun to play rather than focusing on a story, I imagine that was the intention for Red Dead Redemption as well.
Gameplay: The game handles pretty well. Once you get used to it, the menu systems are intuitive, the guns are easy to change quickly and horses are easy to ride. In fact, alongside an auto-aiming system and a ‘red eye’ meter (which allows you to go into bullet time, Max Payne style), the game is actually surprisingly easy. This is probably just as well, because the game itself is enormous.
You spend the majority of the game riding around the Wild West, deciding if you want to be a paragon or a renegade. As usual, I’ve taken the path of the righteous. You’ll accept missions and do jobs for people, alongside which you have multiple ‘challenges’ (perfect for the achievement seekers) to test your marksmanship, foraging and treasure hunting abilities. This is all fine if not a bit samey, and I long for something that’s just a bit more challenging. Sometimes I groan and find myself saying, “ugh, not another horse-breaking job” or “not another prostitute in distress”.
Conclusion: This game was marked as the new Grand Theft Auto for cowboys. They were really onto something with that idea! The trouble is, they haven’t quite pulled it off. The horses come in one of 3 speeds, which greatly limits the benefits of nicking them from other people. I found myself a 3 star horse near the beginning, and haven’t changed it since for lack of options. Stage coaches are slower (therefore duller) than horses and as for the train, the less said about them the better.
You can’t sleep with prostitutes (although there are plenty in-game), you can’t beat people up without serious repercussions, and overall the similarities to Grand Theft Auto are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong – I’m enjoying this game, but it took me around 16 hours to ‘get into it’. Even now, I don’t feel that urge to get back to it, but it’s good for passing the time. Overall, I’d probably suggesting buying something else.
P.S As a disclaimer I’d like to add that a lot of people love this game, including my brother-in-law. I haven’t even begun to explore the online options so this review isn’t wholly complete. While I’m slightly underwhelmed, I’d suggest borrowing off a friend first and seeing if I’m wrong!
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