Posted by: Paul | July 24, 2010

Redeemed

I have at last finished Red Dead Redemption. Well, I say finished, I’m 97.5% of the way there. Just one task left which is rather difficult – as I’m so close I’ll likely try to crack it at some stage. I will definitely be returning to this game…

I tend to only buy large scale, high-quality games at the moment, as I don’t have much disposable income to throw at them and value for money is therefore paramount. I’ve been playing RDR for more than two months which is pretty good going, and I think the key to it’s success has been the ability to wander around the vast plains and canyons at will, just experiencing the incredible landscape unfold and change around me, and random non-narrative happenings pop up as I ride past. Here there’s a stagecoach being held up, there a botanist challenging me to collect plants, and up ahead a traveller stranded by a horse thief. I shoot the robbers, find the herbs and flowers, and lasso the missing horse after hogtieing the outlaw and leaving him for the local marshals to deal with. Playing cowboys has never felt so real.

Narratively, I kind of miss John Marston now he’s gone. The ending was suitably Western, very downbeat and defeatist, but then the game is about the death of the West and I suppose Marston’s murder by the unscrupulous Agent Ross and his men is emblematic of that – the encroachment of the new into the old ways. But I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent in his company, and as with most Rockstar games you’re free to choose which side of the law you fall on – under my control, Marston was a man of honour.

So now I’m left with his son Jack, to continue wandering the wilderness if I choose to do so. And I definitely will – the marriage of freedom of movement with instinctive, rewarding control is really a joy to play, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. I imagine they will produce another game in the same vein with this one having been so successful – I’m willing to bet it will be called Red Dead Revolution, and be set in the American Civil War. It’s about time North and South had something to rival it in that time period!

Such is the quality of RDR that I’ve even made a brief foray into multiplayer – which is a rare thing. I don’t like to play games against total strangers, and so the introduction of a co-operative campaign where I can call my brother up on idle evenings and go hunting for treasure or bandits with him online makes for a much more attractive package. Always better playing with people you know, I think.

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