Review: Red Dead Redemption

When Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto IV in 2008, it was thought by many that the sandbox genre had seen the best it had to offer. Now almost two years later, the bar of excellence has been raised through the roof with its Western counterpart Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar San Diego). Rockstar succeeds in creating one of the best open worlds in gaming history. A game so well executed the Old West has never looked or played better. Set in the year 1911, former outlaw turned vigilante John Marston is a man on a mission. He was once in a ruthless gang and is now ordered by the government to eliminate the remaining lead members or never see his family again. From the first cut-scene the presentation is stunning. The scenery is top notch; Rockstar nailed the lighting, and overall feel of life in the Wild West. Every animation looks realistic; from riding horseback through the prairie to gun fights. Additionally, the dusty soundtrack adds another level of authenticity to John Marston’s journey. The story will take you through a vast countryside made up of Texas and Mexico. Along the way you experience everything and anything associated with surviving in the West. From bounty hunting, breaking horses in, gun duels, treasure hunting, wild animal attacks, and public hangings; Rockstar covers the entire spectrum of old cowboy culture. The gameplay is where Red Dead Redemption really shines. As John Marston you go through the story accomplishing missions that get you closer to catching your men. These missions range from protecting stagecoaches to clearing out bandit hideouts and more. A welcomed addition is the morality system. Every action you make will have an effect on how honorable and famous you are through every town in the game. You can save every damsel in distress to be considered a hero or be a ruthless drunk who kills for fun and have the townsfolk fear you. With being a cowboy comes knowing a thing or two about shooting a firearm. Along with your standard revolver, there are several other weapons including shotguns, Gatling guns, and cannons available to you along your travels. A change in the Rockstar combat engine is the addition of “Dead-Eye” targeting system. When turned on, time is slowed down and it allows John to place precise shots on any given target. This feature is very effective in crowded areas and just plain cool. Another immeasurably fun aspect to the game is its online multiplayer. The standard team death match and capture the flag style settings are here, but free roam clearly steals the show. Free roam is a multiplayer lobby where you can interact with the online community at large and form a posse with friends. Dual cooperative missions will be soon available for download. Point blank Red Dead Redemption is a gaming tour de force. While you will be met with some slight visual glitches, this title takes the sandbox genre and gaming in general to another level. Saddle up.