Some people dislike Red Dead Redemption. Those people are wrong, say Cameron Harris. There will be spoilers…
Red Dead Redemption is like marmite. Some hated it, others treasure it. I am one of the others. John Marston’s unforgettable journey through the Wild West was one of the highlights of this console generation, as gamers realised their boyhood dreams of becoming a gunslinging, horse riding, cattle-herding cowboy.
It has been nearly three years since its release and I still revisit it and wander the world Rockstar created – a world that I still love and think about today. How has this game had such an effect on me? Yes, the world is huge; yes the guns are cool, and yes you can leave a man’s (or damsels!) beat up body in front of an approaching train and doing so scores you a super sweet 5G achievement; awesome, yet a minor point in this gargantuan game.
Red Dead Redemption is a masterpiece. Why? Partly because of the vibe it creates. The music is almost worth the price of the game alone. It creates that atmosphere of the spaghetti western and fuses it with that up-to-date badass, Rockstar chic. Example? Your friends are dead, hope is all but lost and your only way to getting to your target is by riding a riverboat into Mexico with a psychopathic grave robber. You finally, desperately, make it to your destination – the journey has been rough – and Marston, alone again, sets off into the night. That music kicks in; a modern country song (written for the game), dripping in the right ambiance for that exact moment is all that is needed to make this scene unforgettable. This game gave me that special feeling in my good you have when you know you’re playing something special. ‘That’s stupid, dumbass’ I hear you cry! No, to get these feelings, you had to look beneath the mask, deeper; you had to look at the details and Rockstar are a devil for those.
This game is the successor of the little known ‘Red Dead Revolver’, created by Rockstar earlier last decade. The title wasn’t a commercial success, yet it was regarded highly by Rockstar so they recycled the idea of the Wild West and, using their cash and know-how from the GTA franchise, developed Red Dead Redemption with love, money and care. With the single player they developed an iconic gaming hero, much like Captain Price, Master Chief or John Shepard – yet, there’s one thing that was unique about Red Dead Redemption’s John Marston. His game left us crying. After hours of herding cattle, throwing horseshoes, killing bad guys and smooth talking hill billy women, John Marston became our brother. We loved him! When that fatal climax came, when he was shot by that fat fed bastard, our eyes began to flow! We were distraught. Rockstar had built such a connection between the gamer and the protagonist, the like we don’t see much of in our medium and we were all suffered from his passing. It certainly did not help when we were left with John’s turd of a son. However, his revenge mission did leave a fairly positive, yet minor, impact.
The single player was a beautifully constructed masterpiece which left little sparkles of magic all over the place. The story was fairly formulaic, yet the character building was iconic, the music, the style, the genuine Rockstar class – all fabulous. Then there was the online aspect.
Welcome to the Wild West – bring your friends! Have your own horseback! Create a posse! Beat bears to death with your fists and get a $2000 bounty on your head. Do it with your friends, or alone. Either way, it’s the most lovable online mode I have ever played. You could mash thousands of hours grinding away at the gang hideouts and slaying noobs who entered the world. You became so badass, you could do what you wanted. The only problems I had with the online was there was so much room to add some awesome achievements yet they didn’t seize that opportunity. Maybe Rockstar didn’t realise just how popular their creation would become.
Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption proved just what the rage engine could do. The euphoria physics in the game were sublime; the way you would fire at someone and it felt like a ‘canon-pistol’ was so cool. This game is my baby.
– Cameron Harris
Low Fat Gaming says:
Red Dead is one of our favourite games of the generation. Rockstar nailed the tone of the game and this always works in it’s favour. You feel John is a relic in a changing world – the American Wild West is dying; cities and government are in the ascendancy and what was once (and still is) dangerous and wild instead becomes beautiful and poignant. Red Dead’s main strength is its setting and Rockstar take full advantage of it.
We disagree with Cameron about the ending though – we felt genuine joy at avenging John’s death. We can see why the final chapter divided opinion but we feel it had a maturity in narrative that you’ll not find very often elsewhere.