Westerns are one of my favourite movie genres, but games haven’t really delivered on the cowboy front. There was Gun which I passed and the linear Call of Juarez, but it wasn’t till Red Dead Redemption when the Western genre was done justice in videogames. Open world shooting, bar brawls and lassoing cows await in the world of Red Dead.
John Marston is a man with an aim. He has set out into the West to hunt down his old friend Bill Williamson and Dutch Van Der Linde in hopes of seeing his family again. To do this he travels the West as far as Mexico with the hopes of gathering information on their whereabouts and eventually gunning them down. The open world to explore is huge with towns, desert, canyons and hideouts to explore with many different main missions and side missions to partake in. It is very much like a Grand Theft Auto Cowboy Edition, with point markers and general progression being very similar. The setting of the Wild West is very much its own thing though, it is a gorgeous game with views going far into the distance of the barren land and atmosphere rides high when a storm brews up. The music which keeps close to Western movie sounds is also a highlight, changing as the situations change, parping in when something big is going to happen, or leisurely playing in the more peaceful moments.
It looks the part and has all the trademark locations you’d expect and it plays well too. Gun fights are easy to handle with auto-aim and a Dead Eye mode which slows things down so you can pick multiple shots as you please. It is incredibly satisfying killing ten enemies while focusing in this mode with the meaty weapons on offer. Dynamite, pistols, shotguns, rifles, snipers are some of the treats on offer. You also travel through the land by horse which is of course the way a real cowboy travels, though some of the activities in the West aren’t so fun. Herding cows and lassoing horses to break them sound like chores, and they play like them too. Keeping behind a herd hoping they won’t split up and run everywhere is such a pain and falling off a horse for the tenth time is incredibly annoying. Chores aren’t fun! At least the solid shooting takes centre stage and there is plenty of that.
The single player is a good length, though the quality drops a little midway once you reach Mexico, it feels like padding to keep the game chugging that little longer and the story stumbles a few times too. John Marston makes a lot of threats to all the characters he meets, some real bastards, but each time he ends up helping them! He thinks burning down innocents housing is a bit off, but you still do it! It’s pretty stupid and really breaks a rather decent character who has a rough past and a hope of just getting back to the normal life. The feel of impending technology killing the day of cowboys is also a worthy plot hiding in the background. Online completes the package with the whole world to explore with fifteen others with a large variety of modes to play, find a good posse to join and you’ll be playing for a long time.
Red Dead Redemption is an awesome game with a few niggles, but with such a huge world trying to replicate as much as the West as possible, it’s easy to forgive. Nods to classic movies, great gameplay and a strong story of its own makes for one hell of an adventure. Makes you want to set out and venture forth yourself, pity we have to keep Western fantasies to fiction and history now.
mexico filler, herding and breaking horse missions shit. pace, padded. Good end and online.
Undead Nightmare (800 ms points)
Undead Nightmare takes the world of Red Dead Redemption and gives it the zombie treatment. Zombies are all the rage these days so it seems like the perfect idea, if a bit predictable. It seems every game has to have zombies in it somewhere now though Red Dead uses them to full effect.
The world and gameplay are exactly the same, but instead of outlaws to kill we have a hungry hoard of the undead. Dealing with them is slightly different as they run at you and can only be killed with head shots. It brings a nice mix-up to the game and the new town protection missions are a good use of the rotting walking flesh. There is a story to go with it all too, as John Marston sets out to cure his family and meeting old characters who are dealing with the monsters or dealing with being one. It is a great example of download content, providing a new idea to an existing formula, a new story with care put into it plus a lengthy running time. Rockstar know their stuff when it comes to quality. The only criticism is the adventure is perhaps a little easier, zombies fall fast once you get used to the new enemy. No brains for you tonight.