Columns & Blogs

New ‘Red Dead’ could make the West thrilling

Rockstar Games will return to a familiar genre in May when it releases the second gawme in the “Red Dead Revolver” series.

The new game — “Red Dead Redemption” — comes out nearly six years exactly after the original was released for the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox.

“Red Dead Redemption” appears to be one of the bigger releases this spring, and it’s arguably the last big release before the summer gaming season.

The game provides a similar experience to Rockstar’s popular “Grand Theft Auto” series, and it seems to build on the same advances made by “Grand Theft Auto IV,” which impressively added multiplayer modes to a sandbox game.

The biggest difference between “Red Dead Redemption” and other sandbox games like “Grand Theft Auto” is that it has a Western setting.

While “Red Dead Revolver” was a fun game, the genre still hasn’t produced a truly memorable game since “Oregon Trail” came to elementary school computers across the country.

Developers have been hesitant to design games set in the West for some reason. Perhaps it’s because the current generation of gamers doesn’t really connect with the genre — Hollywood has stayed away from the genre lately, too, despite a few notable exceptions. Westerns just resonate better with dads who grew up watching John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies and TV show such as Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.”

Because of the perceived lack of interest, only four mainstream video games with Western settings have been released in the past 10 years. Two of the four come in the very forgettable “Call of Juarez” series. The other two — “Red Dead Revolver” and “Gun” — both were good efforts.

“Gun,” which came out in late 2005, was a more polished game than “Red Dead Revolver” and has thus far set the standard for the genre. It’s wide-open world was more detailed and vast than the one in “Red Dead Revolver.”

The game added side quests and multiple mission chains to make the game more complete than its competitor.

But “Gun” still came out more than four years ago. Hopefully, Rockstar has used what it learned from its first foray in the genre and also paid attention to what worked and what didn’t in “Gun.” tMaybe the genre just needs a legitimate hit to get rolling, and “Red Dead Redemption” will get the opportunity to re-ignite Western-themed games.