Red Dead Redemption
by Ninja_Vampire

Basic Information:
Developer: Rockstar North/ San Diego
Publisher: Rockstar Games
North American Release Date: 18th of May, 2010.
European Release Date: 21st of May, 2010.
Trophies: 34 12 2 1

Overview -
From the amazing Rockstar Games, Red Dead Redemption is a third-person shooter/ sandbox game and the spiritual successor to the the 2004 game, Red Dead Revolver. Red Dead Redemption follows the story of ex-outlaw, John Marston, who is forced by government officials, to hunt down the leaders of his former gang, to be reunited with his family. With so much on the line, John goes through hell and high water to finally live a peaceful life. Red Dead Redemption puts us straight into the world of some of our favorite Westerns, but have they done them justice?

Gameplay -
The gameplay of Red Dead Redemption is varied. In fact, varied is quite the understatement. There are so many different things to do in this game, you will find a new type of mission or minigame everytime you put the disc into your PS3. Of course, Red Dead Redemption is a third-person shooter at heart, so let's talk about that first.

Gunfights are, as you could imagine, a huge element to the Red Dead experience. 90% of the missions in the game involve gunning some pack of fools down, so it would be important to have a decent shooting system. Thankfully, the combat of Red Dead does not disappoint. Being a third-person shooter, Red Dead plays like you would imagine it to, but even better. Shooting seems fluid and easy to get used to, even without the auto-aim feature. In no time, you will be hitting outlaws between the eyes left, right and center. The cover system works very nicely and is necessary to winning nearly every fight.

Of course, precision is everything when you're a gunslinger, so Rockstar have incorporated Dead-eye mode into Marston's abilities, which fans of Red Dead Revolver will be used to. When this mode is activated, time almost stops and you have the chance to mark your targets. When the Dead-eye meter empties, or the first shot is fired, Marston quickfires all the shots, which can mean entire gangs of outlaws can be wiped out in mere seconds. Everytime you use this mode you will feel like a badass, and you will use it every single gunfight. Another cool feature of this mode, is that it can be used in any situation, even while powering through the wild on horse back, if you're in the mood for shooting some innocent birds.

One of the many heated gunfights of Red Dead Redemption.

Speaking of horse back, how else do you reckon you will be traveling in the wild west? Horses are necessities for travel unless you enjoy long walks in the desert, and my god, you won't want to walk when you see the size of the map. Lucky for us however, there is no shortage of horses. Wild horses can be broken and kept as your own, or you can purchase horse deeds at the the local shop, which can be used anywhere, anytime. Horses vary in colour, stamina and speed, so picking favorites can be difficult, but you will love whistling and see your trusty steed gallop over the prairie.

Breaking horses as I mentioned, is just one of the many side missions/ mini-games of Red Dead. If you aren't in the mood to follow the main plot line, you can take a nice relaxing break with perhaps a game of poker, liar's dice or maybe horseshoes. If you are in a more feisty mood, maybe going for a couple shots of whiskey and starting a bar fight or taking on some fellows who think they're tough in an arm wrestle. What is just so awesome about these minigames, is that they are all so different and all offer different experiences. It is truly amazing how many different tastes of other gaming genres Rockstar fit into Red Dead, from gambling, to racing, all the way to treasure hunting.

Another very nice feature to the game is the amount of animals out in the wild of Red Dead Redemption, something that not many games have included. There are numerous different species of animals roaming the lands, some friendly and some hostile, ranging from ducks all the way to the vicious grizzly bear. Depending on where you are, you may get mauled by a Cougar or pack of wolves, which can be very annoying, so be on the lookout. All wild animals can be killed and skinned and then you can sell the fur or other parts to the shops for some nice income.

Singleplayer -
Set in 1911, the story follows John Marston, a man who has quite the dark past, in the fictitious states of New Austin, West Elizabeth and Nuevo Paraiso, all located near the border between Mexico and the United States. A former gang member and outlaw, John has seen his fair share of violence, stealing and murder, but has changed his life around and wishes to live peacefully with his wife, Abigail, and son, Jack, on their farm. Unfortunately for John, the government have seperated him from his wife and son, and only promise to reunite them if he will do their dirty work. With no other options, John must find and capture or kill the leaders of his old gang (and former friends), who are still wanted criminals.

The setting and backstory to Red Dead seem ideal for the game at first glance, but what is even better is that the story only gets progressively more interesting as more and more unfolds. Jack meets plenty of folk on his adventure, some helping him, but some trying to get in his way. Filled with twists, a great supporting cast and plenty of action-packed moments, the story of Red Dead is one you do not want to overlook, especially if you're a fan of Western movies, such as 'The Wild Bunch' or 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', as you may see the inspiration in a lot of key scenes.

The town of Armadillo is a hotspot for missions and crazy folk, you will visit it frequently.

As the singleplayer mode of Red Dead Redemption offers us a sandbox adventure game, it follows a set of main storyline missions with countless side missions there to distract us. All in all, the main story of Red Dead could be completed in a mere 10 hours, but with everything to do in this game, you are easily looking at 30+ hours for a standard playthrough and even more if you attempt to get 100% game completion. The singleplay just emphasizes that Rockstar truly are the kings of sandbox adventure games and will more than likely remain that way.

Multiplayer -
When you start up the multiplayer of Red Dead Redemption, you will be immediately confused, as it puts you into the singleplayer map. Not a multiplayer version of the map, the exact same one, size and everything, which at first seems odd, but then you will realize that it's actually the most awesome multiplayer lobby ever. Instead of sitting around a menu waiting for your team to converge and ready up before you start a match, you can actually travel all over the map with your team (or Posse as it is referred to), shooting other members of the lobby, or killing NPCs for experience in a giant freeroam session. Then if you decide you want to do a more organized mission, you can choose to join an actual multilplayer game mode, leaving the freeroam session.

In addition to gathering a posse and killing NPCs in the freeroam, players can also complete gang hideout missions which are identical to the ones in the singleplayer campaign. These hideouts give very good experience and are the most popular with experience grinders, but are still a great idea for a team to have some fun.

Forming a posse is one of the most fun elements of the online experience.

The normal multiplayer missions vary from the traditional deathmatches to objective modes and allow a maximum of 16 players. All game modes also start off with a Mexican Standoff which gives the surviving characters time to run and find better weapons and get to more tactical areas before the other players respawn. The game modes offered are Shootout, Hold Your Own, Gold Rush and Grab the Bag, all of which are great fun to play, solo or with a team of friends. As you progress through the multiplayer, you will unlock new character skins, weapons and mounts. The max level online is 50, but further options allow you to reset your level to unlock extras.

With a team of friends, the multiplayer of Red Dead is fantastic. Nothing is more satisfying in the game than killing other players online with your posse or raising your wanted level insanely high, and can offer hours upon hours of fun. Criticisms I could give would be that connecting can sometimes be unpredictable and you may find it quite hard to play with your friends at certain times, but generally this won't be too much of a problem. Sadly however, the multiplayer can be a little boring solo, so make sure your friends play with you.

Technical -
You will notice from the very beginning of the game, that Red Dead is absolutely beautiful graphically. The scenery in the game is nothing short of fantastic, offering us amazing variety from grassy fields to huge desert wastelands all the way to snowy mountains. Towns are also extremely well done with huge contrast in styles such as the traditional western town of Armadilo, the very Mexican Escalera and then the wealthy town of Blackwater. Character models are also great and look quite realistic during the cutscenes and gameplay, showing us that there was no negligence to them, which can often be the case when a game has such expansive environments.

Some of the moments of Red Dead are truly picturesque.

The sound is again, brilliant and fits perfectly into the setting of Red Dead Redemption. While riding across the map, you will hear the amazing sound of your horse galloping through bushes and the tall grass, often hearing the sound of some dangerous animals near by or in the distance. The voice acting is absolutely superb for each character (but mainly John) and ranges from deadly serious to completely light-hearted and humorous. This shows us not only how well scripted Red Dead Redemption is, but also how well it was cast.

It is extremely hard to think of any criticism that you could give this game technically. As the game is on such a huge scale, it is hard to believe that I came upon only two or three minor glitches and hiccups throughout my 80+ hours playing, which is saying something.

Trophies -
The trophies of Red Dead Redemption are surprisingly easy and ridiculously entertaining to obtain. In and around 70% of the trophies involve the main game, so that is what will take the longest, but it is nothing too difficult. Generally the last trophy you will get in the singleplayer will be 100% completion, but it is very satisfying when you get there. The online multiplayer trophies can be time consuming, but with a few friends things speed up in leaps and bounds. Personally I had a great time playing this game, so the platinum trophy at the end of it only sweetened the deal.

Closing Thoughts -
When I first heard the release date for Red Dead Redemption, I couldn't wait. I always highly anticipate Rockstar's games and this was no exception. As it got nearer to release day, I feared that maybe Red Dead was going to be a bit of a copy and paste of GTA IV, only in 1911. Thankfully though, when I started playing it I completely changed my mind. Not only does Red Dead Redemption feel like a completely different game, it also is a better, more polished game. With everything this game has to offer in both singleplayer and multiplayer, I possibly think that it could not have been done any better if it had been in development for another 3 years. I truly take my non-existent hat off to Rockstar for creating the perfect Western game.

Gameplay: 10/10
Offering us an extreme variety of mini-games, paired with a fantastic combat system in a sandbox world, what's not to love?

Singleplayer: 10/10
An amazing singleplayer campaign tied to a near flawless western story, all combined with a cast of truly memorable characters.

Multiplayer: 9/10
A massive online experience, allowing you and your friends to really feel like cowboys with pure style, just a bit boring solo.

Technical: 9.5/10
Stunning visuals, atmospheric music and sound effects, with top class voice acting.

Overall: 10/10