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Red Dead Redemption: Review

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How the west was won

Red Dead Redemption’s single player experience is a perfect one. And it deserves an appropriate perfect score. But remember, that’s the single player- multiplayer is a whole other beast that deserves it’s own rating. The only reason why I’m compelled to give separate scores is because the multiplayer just plain sucks if you don’t have friends to play with. But we’ll get to that later.

The Good

In single player, you take on the role of an ex-gang member named John Marston. You were a Robin Hood of sorts; you stole from people that had too much and gave to people that had too little, as John puts it. But his fellow outlaws lost that ideal, and during a robbery, left him for dead. After that he changed his ways, got married, had kids and grew a farm. But John’s past comes back to haunt him as government agents force John Marston to hunt down and kill his old gang-mates. He has no choice but to comply- his family’s lives are on the line. Leave it to Rockstar to come up with a twisted plot, and a dramatic ending to boot. I have to say, this is easily one of the best story-lines I’ve ever played through.

Not to mention the graphics! Amazing graphics! Rockstar has created perhaps the best looking open world game thus far. Grass moves beneath your feet. Horses are animated with such realism that you just might forget that they were programmed! The water looks spectacular… everything in the graphics department looks spot on and really sells the old west nicely. The wild west never looked so alive! Well, maybe not since there actually was a wild west.

The audio department again, is spot on. Ambient bird songs, galloping herds in the distance, and top notch voice acting overall makes for some tasty sweet ear candy. Gun shots are pretty generic though- I can’t tell what I’m being shot at with. EVER! This is just fine with me in single player, but it takes it’s toll on multiplayer.

The gameplay is fantastisimo! Is that a word? Like in Spanish or something? Oh well. I didn’t understand most of what the Mexican people were saying in this game. But that should totally be a word! Because that’s what the gameplay is! There are a wide variety of missions, although most of them involve shootouts- a testament to Rockstar’s philosophy- shoot now, shoot then… shoot when? Every chance you get! There are shootouts involving trains, horses, treasure, Mexicans, gringos, Indians, everything you could ask for in a western. Sometimes you’ll also find strangers who will want your help. Their tasks can be a little mundane, like delivering things and picking flowers, but it helps to keep the game feel fresh throughout the experience.

But that’s not all there is to Red Dead Redemption. There are gang hideouts to clear, Poker, Blackjack and Liar’s Dice to play, and arm-wrestling, horseshoes and Five-Finger Fillet to master. Five-Finger Fillet is awesome. You take a knife and quickly stab between each of your fingers! Yeah, that thing from Aliens. Anyways, you have to press the A, B, X, and Y buttons to a certain rhythm (not too slow, not too fast) and in a certain order depending on your bet- the higher the harder. Once you have the hardest combination down, you’ll be making money like it’s nobody’s business. Very useful in the beginning of the game… although money isn’t that big a deal- I went through the whole game without buying a single gun. There are also a set of challenges you can do in your spare time. Like sharpshooting and treasure hunting.

The Bad?

The auto-aim mechanic that was in GTA 4 is back and better than ever. Now you can choose for the targeting to be Casual (fully automatic), Normal (you can aim precisely where you want after auto-targeting an enemy), and Expert (no handicaps for you, mister! You’re on your own.). I prefer Normal aiming because trying to aim by yourself is lethal- trying to aim with a tiny dot in the middle of the screen is NOT easy. It’s like trying to no-scope in Halo, but at least you have more time to aim in Red Dead Redemption thanks to more health and a Dead Eye targeting system.

There are 3 stages, all involving slow-mo. At first you can only shoot once during a slow-mo session. Then you can automatically paint targets on people by aiming at them, enabling you the ability to take out a whole gang with ease. At stage 3 you can paint targets manually. Lot’s of fun. There is an energy meter though, so use it wisely. You progress through the stages as you reach certain points in the story. One thing that really gets on my nerves is that wielding a sniper is as hard as a frozen dog terd. That’s because there’s no hip fire reticule. You have to guesstimate where the center of your screen is and then aim. This leads to a lot of needless target-correction, which makes the sniper less fun to use than it should be. Other than some aiming flaws, which Dead Eye makes up for, Red Dead Redemption’s single player is bad ass yo!

The Ugly

Now, multiplayer on the other hand… oooooh it’s terrible. And it won’t take long to tell you why. First of all, people constantly leave games, so almost every single game you get into will have one team with more players. Second, sprinting makes you appear on your enemies’ maps. LOGIC FAIL. Were they just trying to be different than Call of Duty? Or were they just trying something new? Either way, it sucks, and it inspires camping. Fuck that. Third, headshots do shit loads of damage, but are really hard to get, so random quick deaths happen a lot. Fourth, terrible spawning- I spawn next to enemies constantly. Fifth, the game does the spotting for you. Whenever someone is in your line of sight, no matter how far away, an icon will appear above their heads, allowing you to auto-aim with precise accuracy, which inspires even more camping. Whew! Free roaming isn’t that bad, if you have people to play with, which I don’t. Is that a biased review? Yes. I’m sure it’s a tad bit more fun with your friends (if they don’t get pissed off at the game like I did), but all mine are still playing Modern Warfare 2. And I don’t blame ’em.

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5 comments
baosen
baosen

I played multiplayer today and you right! Its ugly! Its full of campers and lucky shots. Even the shootout is purely random. In depth, theres no "dynamic" that makes multiplayer interesting for a while.

Bastian
Bastian

@john: Every random person I play with is an idiot then, because they just keep feeding the campers and they win almost all the time. All you have to do is sit in spot that you have a good field of view at, wait for someone's icon to pop up, then kill them with a repeater. Sometimes I can't even see the people below the icon, but I can kill them anyway. That may not be your experience (good for you. At least you're having fun with it), but that was mine.

john
john

in the multiplayer section, have you had problems with campers (u playing on the 360)? I played quite a few online games and havent had any problems with campers (im on the PS3)everyone seems to like to run about shooting and getting shot! And camping is for losers, and it doesn't pay to camp in RDR, the maps are so big if u know someone is being a bitch no one goes near him and the player will never win. Everyone I've met online doesnt play RDR like COD! And I thought showing the play when he sprints is a fucking GREAT idea, how else are ya supposed to know where people are?

Bastian
Bastian

@john: Where did you read 'notoriously hard'? I just said that headshots are really hard to get. At least for me. I'm pretty good at CoD and Halo, but something about this game's twitchy aiming makes it hard for me... probably because it's third-person. Either way, that isn't even close to the main reason I hate multiplayer. Mostly it's because the game finds enemies for you which sucks out most of the skill that COULD be involved, and encourages people to camp more. Even if you play above Casual targeting, it still feels like it was made for the casual player.

john
john

HAhahahaha!!! u must be one of those guys I keep headshototing in free mode!! 'Notoriously hard' he says! HAHAHAha do u know how to shoot buddy, u see that little dot on yr screen? Aim for the dudes head and BAM pull the trigger. HEAD SHOT BABY!!!