Simply, Rockstar have delivered again.
Red Dead Redemption is set during the dying days of the Wild West and tells the story of gangster-turned-family man; John Marston. Marston has been sent by the government to find the men who betrayed him and left him to die. Upon arrival, John is gunned down and left to die by one of the men he has come for. Saved by a local rancher, John starts his journey to exact revenge on the men who betrayed them and bring them to justice.
The game is developed by the team at Rockstar San Diego and therefore, the game is very similar to Rockstar's staple title, Grand Theft Auto. In very GTA similar style, you'll need to complete missions for certain people to progress through the game. And also in very GTA-fashion, as you progress, you'll open up new areas to explore. And these areas look stunning.
The wide-open American landscape is mind blowing. So much time and care has been paid to making this game look as detailed and realistic to its time as possible and it has definitely paid off. If there were an award for 'Best Looking Game of all Time', Red Dead would with out doubt win it. Old relics of the Wild West, such as the small, wooden town of Armadillo are gorgeous to look at and really charming. The enormous, orange Mexican landscape is also beautifully portrayed and just standing on a large cliff and enjoying the gorgeous visuals is a complete pleasure. Red Dead is like nothing else.
This gorgeous world is also incredibly massive. This is the Wild West. There are no vehicles to hop on, so instead your going have to ride your horse. Riding from the growing, and solely industrialised town of Blackwater to the western, Mexican village of Escelera can take half an hour real time and around 6 hours game time. This is the scope of this enormous sprawling world. By using a campsite or the local stage wagons, you can quickly transport to a certain area, but you'll find yourself not wanting to do that because as your riding through on your horse you can find some astonishing views of the landscape.
So, not only is the world huge and looks astonishing; but it is also incredibly detailed. As you wander through, every grassland, every river and even a snowy mountain are greatly realistic and it only adds to the immersive world. Also, it's not just humans living in this world. You'll come across thousands of animals from rabbits to wild, grizzly bears. All these animals can be killed and skinned. While some animal lovers may not big the biggest fan of this, it's a great way to make money to spend on a variety of things.
Again, continuing with the GTA similarities, money can be spent on abundance of early 20th century weapons. From revolvers to repeaters, they can all be purchased from local gunsmiths. From here, you'll be able to buy ammo and bandoliers (for extra ammo capacity) and other things. Other shops include a general store, where you can sell animal skins and doctor stores. Although one thing that separates Red Dead from GTA is the health system. Gone is the health meter and RDR follows the like of Call of Duty in self-restoring health.
So, as previous mentioned. John Marston, is gunned down when he arrives in the area and is then saved by the daughter of a local Rancher. Her name is Bonnie McFarlane and she is one of an amazing cast of characters in Red Dead Redemption. John Marston carries on Rockstar's tradition of creating lovable main protagonists with his hard outer shell and caring demeanour. Other great characters include Landon Ricketts, a legend in the Wild West as one of the greatest gunslingers of all time and Charles West Dickens a man who you will need to help to con his customers with his laughable products. All are brilliant voiced and portrayed in fantastic and intriguing cut-scenes.
To repay his debt to Bonnie, the game starts with John helping out on the Ranch by doing simple tasks such as rounding up cows and killing foxes trying to eat cattle. While this does allow you to adjust to the game, it may feel slightly patronising and boring to some players. After a while though, John leaves to explore the wide world and find the men he came to capture. However, if you don't feel like playing the main storyline; there are a lot of other things to do. You'll find yourself meeting strangers across the American landscape you can help them in missions to do various things. For example, the old man who asks you to pick flowers for his wife. After doing so, he invites you back for dinner where you find his wife is merely a corpse sitting on a stool in his shack. It's great moments like this that sets Red Dead apart from other free roaming games.
You can also play Poker at local saloons, play a very addicting game call Liar's Dice. And if you're up for killing some criminals you can also go and clear out some gang hideouts scattered across the world.
As you go through the game, I'm afraid, you're going to have to kill some people. There are a few things that can help you to do this. Firstly, is the Dead Eye ability. This allows you to slow down time and pick your shots. It's very similar to Fallout 3's VATS system in which you pick shots on an enemy's body. It's really effective and great fun to use. Another is the cover system, which is pretty much the same to GTA IV's cover system but it has been tweaked to make it more consistent and effective. Except for a few little niggles, it serves its purpose well. Another way to kill people is duelling. This would have been seen a lot before on Western films, but the main purpose is to draw your gun before your opponent and gun them down. It's a great fun and gives you a better sense of the times.
The soundtrack in Red Dead Redemption is again, with the rest of the game, top notch. It's very relative to the time in which the game is set and increases the sense of solitude and loneliness in the large world. A lot faster paced music will kick in when you find your self in the middle of a large-scale gun battle with enemies, which helps keep the adrenaline running.
This entire world can also be taken online to enjoy with your friends with Red Dead's multiplayer. You can simply just free roam with up to 16 other people, wiping clean them gang hideouts or just simply having some fun, and believe me, there is a lot to be had. It's not just free roam on offer either; you can enjoy relatively straightforward Team Deathmatch with a RDR spin on them and other many game modes. The character you take online can also be personalised greatly by simply just changing the person you are, for example, you can be a US Marshall or a Mexican outlaw. It's a complete up to you. There is also a ranking system, which you will need to gain XP to climb up. XP can be earned for many things but the main thing is Gang Hideouts. You'll rank up a lot quicker by doing these.
So, it seems, Rockstar has delivered again. Bringing their knack for creating a great cast of characters, creating a sprawling world into a fantastic new setting. Red Dead Redemption is completely in a league of it's own.