Reviewed: Red Dead Redemption

22 Jul 2010

Red Dead Redemption is an absorbing, scenic and atmospheric game where the player gets to be the classic Old West cowboy.

How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?

Well, not that many, really. A handful of missions into Red Dead Redemption (RDR from here on) and you already have all the skills and knowledge you need to cut a path across the Wild West as a true, dyed-in-the-wool cowboy.

However, after a few hours of killing the local wildlife, picking the local flora, helping random distraught strangers and fighting off bandits, you’ll be bored and returning to the main story.

The long tall tale of John Marston

The tale of John Marston is well told and quite immersive, with John displaying some of Nico’s innocent yet travel-worn charm from Grand Theft Auto 4 (GTA 4).

The story missions you will embark on are varied and well paced for the most part, with some truly memorable moments appearing throughout.

It’s real gritty, son


It’s down that way, past the cactus and beyond the burnt-out horse coach. You can’t miss it

Whether racing carts or horses, breaking into bandit camps or protecting stage coaches, you never feel as if the game has lost direction or gone astray from the world of reality.

Every action you may take as John Marston will feel in character, no matter how bad or good you decide to be. Of course, your choices will affect how characters see and react to you but that just makes you face the consequences of your actions. Facing consequences is all in a day’s work for John.

Much is similar to GTA 4. The shooting and cover system is lifted straight out of developer Rockstar’s other classic. As is the sheriff chasing you for carrying out crimes on innocents. Once the chase has begun you have to escape a search zone and remain out of the pursuer’s sights for a set amount of time.

Convincing characters

Characters you interact with are also similar to the later game. While some are simple folk, many are morally twisted or otherwise unique without ever feeling like parodies.

Also on offer are a host of sub-missions and mini-games ranging from bounty hunting, poker and the horse shoe toss. Many hours can be lost without an ounce of progress in the main story arc, which is long and very well paced.

John also has a slow-motion shooting mechanism fuelled by a gauge that is recharged over time or by shooting bad guys.

Wolves howl, mountain ranges …. loom

The game’s feel though is totally different. Instead of city streets you have open desert, scrub land, mountain ranges and swamps. The scenery is truly awesome and the sense of openness is amazing.

The sound, too, is well implemented. The standard Wild West set of guns ring out clear and sharp, as does the howling of wolves as they materialise out of the desert.

Dang horse!

wild horse

John was beginning to think that this horse would simply never be ready for Britain’s Got Talent by Saturday evening

Your horse’s stats will improve over time as its loyalty increases and I swear the buggers come faster when called when you’ve owned them for a while (wild horses can be caught and broken in if you don’t have the cash).

I only have three problems: horse thieves that call for your aid and then tip you out of the saddle, stupid horse AI, and fighting at close quarters.

After getting attached to your four-legged friend, it’s rather infuriating to watch it drown itself or walk off a cliff. Of course it’s even more heartbreaking to watch them be shot down by bandits, but at least you can vent your pain in the obvious direction in such circumstances.

Shooting goons up close is really frustrating. The third-person, cover-based shooting is fun, but if surrounded and up close with the enemy, it can be difficult to get a shot on target even with the ‘snap to’ aiming system.

sunset red dead redemption

Wait … I think I left the heating on … did I lock the garage door …?

Fulfilling every cowboy fantasy

Red Dead Redemption is still a classic, though, and if you’re a fan of westerns, then here is a piece of gaming joy that will fulfil every cowboy fantasy you’ve ever had.

By Logan McMillan

Overall Score: 7.6
Graphics 8
Replayability 7
Gameplay 8
Sound 8
Tilt/Originality 8