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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Games |
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Red Dead: Redemption

Games

Red Dead: Redemption is the latest from Rockstar Games, the studio responsible for the Grand Theft Audio series. And wow, does it show. This isn’t a bad thing—having played well over 30 hours of GTA IV I appreciated a familiar (read: identical) control scheme. Red Dead builds on that which made GTA so successful and enjoyable, and goes steps further in its implementation of minigames and sidequests.

If you needed any more conviction that Rockstar knows how to make good looking games, Red Dead should provide it. This is without a doubt the best looking game that you’ll have seen on a console (with the possible exception of Heavy Rain). Not just from a graphical standpoint either. The American West of 1911 is a harshly beautiful place, filled with violent weather, violent animals and violent outlaws. It’s entirely possible to spend hours exploring the world without even touching the core story, breaking wild horses and meting out vigilante justice as you see fit.

The real triumph of Red Dead’s distractions and side missions is that (unlike GTA) all of them are optional and none feel like filler. There is just so much to do in the environment that in the week I spent with the game I felt I’d barely scratched the surface. Blowing a vulture out of the sky might trigger a quest to kill nine more to improve your skill with a rifle. Ride your horse over to the bird’s carcass and you’ll be given the option to skin it for saleable goods—the rewards for which increase the more you sell.

Character development is presented in a very dynamic way, with NPCs responding to you based on your ‘Honor’. This is multiplied by your ‘Fame’ (which is gained by performing noteworthy deeds). These factors affect everything from what activities you’re able to perform to who will buy and sell to you. Slaughtering a township doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be chased across the country by posses of lawmen appearing out of nowhere either—you can simply bribe or execute any eyewitnesses to wash your hands of the deed.

With a game of this scope it’s reasonable to expect a few bugs. Fortunately, Red Dead manages to be relatively glitch-free. Those that made it to the final pressing tend to be more funny than irritating (homing dynamite, carts without horses, hilarious physics jerkery) and shouldn’t ruin your immersion too much thanks to a fairly forgiving autosave system. Take note, Heavy Rain.

If you liked GTA IV, it’s impossible for you not to enjoy Red Dead: Redemption. There’s enough familiarity there for you to be able to pick up and play, and a gorgeous setting with a compelling story and characters. Like GTA, this is the sort of game you’ll be digging out of your collection two years later and still be able to marvel at the breadth of the game world—and most of all, have a great time doing it.

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About the Author ()

Lewis has been playing videogames since his family's PC Direct "workstation" in early 1996. He spends his spare time reading political blogs, working and welcoming complaints and suggestions.

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