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Red Dead Redemption Review: Take 1

Review; Sep. 20, 2010; Channels: Video Games; By Jason Winstanley
The Wild Wild West... GTA-style

Red Dead Redemption is commonly referenced to as the “Ye Olde” version of Grand Theft Auto IV. And to be completely honest, I agree. (For the record, I'll be calling it RDR to save my fingers.) RDR is your standard sandbox shooting game, with cowboys and Mexicans thrown in. You ride a horse, shoot a few people, annoy the law doing so, get chased, die, rinse and repeat as necessary. But that isn't all. There are quite a few other things for you to do while roaming around the world. For example, my favorite pastime while lounging around in a Mexican village? Liars Dice, and then a quick duel with someone I may or may not have annoyed...

Red Dead Redemption Screenshots
Click image to view screenshots.

Anyway, RDR starts with you shuffling onto a train. And then riding said train. The train journey, however boring, does give you a very interesting insight as to how people acted and felt back in the time where Old America was slowly becoming New America. The noble and rich disliked how the opposite were taking it, and you get a peek at how people clung to religion. No? Not interesting? We'll move on. You're dumped unceremoniously in a town, left to fend for yourself. Oh, and chase down an old acquaintance. And I will leave the actual story details there.

The American and Mexican environments feel as though the developers scraped over them with a fine-tooth comb, and give the impression you really are a very long way from civilization when traveling between settlements. The game map is extremely large, spanning both the lower American and upper Mexican lands, both areas containing different parts of the story, with the Mexican area unlocked later on in the game. And, as in real-life, both areas have completely different landscapes, and random animals ready to pounce on you or run away screaming. Your call whether they make it or not.

On to the gameplay, and RDR has a lot going for it. Like GTA, missions are dispensed from NPCs marked with their initials on both the radar and the map. This is pretty simple, and with most, if not all, of the GTA series doing this, we are pretty used to it by now. And just as GTA has numerous vehicles at your disposal, RDR has numerous horses. They start off slow and dumpy, and then you get on to the rare breeds -- which you have to catch yourself.

There are a lot of side games for you to try, like horseshoes, Liars Dice, and the all-time favorite, Poker. You'll never get bored with these side games, shooting people, riding around randomly, and all the side missions. And there are quite a few side missions, each giving you plenty of time to earn money and get used to the environment.

You can earn outfits as you play, getting your character a new appearance, but most of them also give you a benefit. For instance, the American Marshal outfit, my second favorite one, allows you to break the law by small degrees. Sweet!

The great black bear. It's best to avoid these blighters because they can one-hit your horse, however rare. And we don't want that happening, do we?

Aside from the amount of stuff to do, the graphics are what make the game. I recommend riding toward the edge of a cliff to take a look at the setting sun in the distance. The image designers have put quite an effort into making you feel like you are really there.

I haven't had a chance to evaluate the multiplayer aspect of Red Dead Redemption, and even so, I think it deserves a separate review anyway. So, overall, I give RDR a 9.6, purely because it is an awesome game, but there are a few, well, glitches that have been found by the community since release. Sure, we don't expect developers to be perfect all the time, but seriously, wrong models? Flying horses? It just blows your mind.


Review Score


Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.


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