Red Dead Redemption

Overview

There are very few times that I come into reviewing a game not having a lot of background information on a game. With how much money goes into developing a game these days Publishers are doing everything they can to publicize every feature of their games. Rockstar Games doesn’t seem to hold that philosophy in that they do market their games in a big way but do so without telling us much about what to expect. Case in point Red Dead Redemption which has had some big marketing dollars spent to advertise the game without telling us much. So does Red Dead Redemption come as an early 2010 surprise? Read our full review to find out.

Gameplay

When I reviewed Grand Theft Auto IV last year one of the key points I wanted to drive in the review was that not only was this an amazing action game but it made the open world or sandbox style gameplay come to life in a way that had never been done before. Red Dead Redemption takes that same style approach but in my opinion manages to dwarf even the spectacular work that GTAIV managed to produce.

I should get it out there that I am a huge western fan. I really just enjoy the idea of the Wild West and have been waiting for a truly great western game for a long time. Well I can say the time has come. Without giving any real story elements away I can say that you play as John Martson who at first glance may not seem like that interesting of a character, but wow does he have depth even more so then Niko in GTAIV. I found myself getting fully engrossed into his character and his story right out of the gate. I don’t want to give the narrative away because it is a good chunk of the single player experience but I will say it is a truly great Western experience.

So the setup of Red Dead Redemption is going to be familiar to anyone who has played a Grand Theft Auto game in the last five years. The story will progress at whatever pace you want it to. All missions will show up on your map with the letter of the main story characters name just like past GTA games and you can complete them at your leisure. The missions have a pretty good variety although there are a few to many transporting missions for my taste.

One of the key areas of Red Dead Redemption that really stands out to me is the open world environment. You would think that in a game set in the Wild West you would have a bunch of barren land that would be pretty boring, however that could not be further from the truth. The first reason is that riding your horse throughout the world of Red Dead Redemption is incredible. The controls are spot on and the representation on screen could not be any better, it just feels perfect. With that and a bunch of random encounters and wild life sprinkled throughout the world of Red Dead Redemption and you will never mind riding your horse throughout the world.

As a whole I absolutely loved the single player experience of Red Dead Redemption, it was incredible. It has depth not only in story but in just a wealth of content that never leaves you with a lack of things to do. At times the random encounters, duels, and wild life can be just as entertaining as the story based missions. What is even more amazing about this game is that the single player experience would have been enough in my mind to warrant a full priced game, but Rockstar went well above and beyond that by offering a full slew of multiplayer options.

Without going into all of the details on the multiplayer I will say that this is a full blown multiplayer experience and not one that was just tacked on to have another bullet on a press release. Although there are a lot of modes to choose from Free Roam is by far the best experience which is really a mode that let’s you make of the game what you wish. You can decide to make it a deathmatch, or a cooperative experience, or just roam the world of Red Dead Redemption with some friends. The multiplayer isn’t all perfect but it is some extremely fun times outside of the single player experience.

Graphics

I never thought the barren desert would like as great as it does in Red Dead Redemption. This is truly one of the most intriguing and immersive experiences I have played in years. The fact that this is an open world and that you can interact with so much of it and it all works so well that you forget that there are very few games that can compete with this level of immersion. I would not be doing my job if I did not mention that there are some visual bugs throughout the game but nothing that breaks the experience. Overall this is a gorgeous game and one that truly wow’s from start to finish.

Fun Factor

I am no audiophile but boy the sound in Red Dead Redemption manages to be a subtle but extremely effective tool that the game uses beautifully and truly brings together the Western style of game. This is one of those games that really are best played with a nice audio setup because it is just another aspect of the game that shines bright. 2010 has been an amazing year thus far and I can still say with 100% certainty that Red Dead Redemption is the most fun I have had playing a game this year.

Overall

However, I can say without any hesitation that the game that Rockstar put out this year in Red Dead Redemption has done for the Wild West genre in video games what Mario did for platformers. The whole Wild West has been a huge missed opportunity for the video game industry, until now where we finally have a game that has put the Wild West back on the map.

The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.