Rockstar Games tried to make a memorable Western game with the release of “Red Dead Revolver” in 2004.
It didn’t succeed.
The game was unbalanced and felt unfinished, and it would be forgettable had the company not decided to make a sequel, “Red Dead Redemption.” Maybe it was better technology this time around or a better plan, but “Red Dead Redemption” is so good that it shouldn’t even be compared to its predecessor.
“Red Dead Redemption” excels for many reasons, but none more than its similarities to another popular Rockstar Games series.
Rather than try to branch out on its own, “Red Dead Redemption” closely resembles the “Grand Theft Auto” series. The game might as well be called “Grand Theft Stagecoach” or “Grant Theft Auto: Wild Wild West,” because its structure is almost identical to that series. If a game is going to mimic another, then it might as well copy a successful formula.
In “Red Dead Redemption,” protagonist John Marston returns to the Old West town of New Austin to go after members of his old gang. Marston has a tough start to his quest, and he is quickly sent in a tutorial-like mode in the game’s early chapters.
The game then progresses much like “Grand Theft Auto IV,” with various mission chains opening up. But you’ll often find yourself wandering around in the vast open world between missions and side jobs.
The game is massive, and there is plenty of land to explore. The developers filled it with plenty of wildlife for hunting. They also included some fun mini-games, such as poker and horseshoes.
While the game’s side items are appealing, the main course is its story. The plot is engaging from the start, and it stays interesting throughout. The writing and voice-acting are both top notch, and both help make the game so memorable.
Just like with “Grand Theft Auto IV,” Rockstar created a vast online mode that features different multiplayer modes. The online multiplayer has been pretty glitchy during the first week of release. Players will disappear and connection errors have been common, but I’d imagine those bugs will get worked out.
The game does have some tedious moments.
In one mission, Marston has to break-in some wild horses. In others, he has to herd cattle. Both are certainly fit in a Western, but neither task is fun, and they often become far more difficult than necessary.
The mishaps are few and far between for such an epic game, however, and shouldn’t dissuade you from picking this one up. In a year that has already seen many great games, “Red Dead Redemption” is the best so far.