Red Dead Redemption: First Hours Review

Jun 3, 2010

Does anybody actually remember the original Red Dead games? No? Didn’t think so. But what does it matter, this game is fantastic. So let’s break it down.

The Story
The first hour mainly involves becoming familiarised with the fundamentals of the game, this consisting of your lasso, your horse, and your gun. The first hour also offers a lovely opening to the games story, allowing you to become introduced with some of the games main characters, and more importantly the protagonist John Marston. This is standard format for such large sandbox games and may not be seen as the most exciting part of the game. John is a badass through and through, there’s no doubt about it. He’s a badass on a mission, a mission to hunt down and eventually kill his former gang members. As the opening cut scene suggests, the government is also some way involved in John’s very personal mission. Without giving too much away, the role of the government eventually is revealed and you find out that (surprise surprise) they’re a bunch of arseholes. The story is incredibly well thought out and executed throughout the game, allowing players to really bond with a lot of the characters and become immersed in the game. The story is told through the classic Rockstar format of ‘go to character, get mission from character’ and so on. There are even GTA-esque letters symbolising each mission’s location on your mini-map. Overall, a well thought out, fast progressing and emotional story that does the game heaps of justice.

The game also features side quests which can be started and completed at any time. Some are time based and require a bit of waiting in order to complete. Mini-games are also available; these include horse-shoes, poker, liar dice, arm wrestling and blackjack to name a few. These are wonderful inclusions to the game and are brilliant time wasters!

John can acquire a few outfits throughout his travels. Some outfits just require certain story mission completion; others require a list of tasks to be met, which may include completing a gang-hideout or winning a certain mini-game. In many cases chasing after these outfits is a nice distraction with the opportunity to make John look even more badass (if that is even possible!).

It’s probably worth pointing out here that this game is not a GTA clone. Fair enough, it has a fair few similarities, such as the previously mentioned mini-map symbols. You could go through saying ‘GTA did that, oh and GTA did that’ but Red Dead Redemption is a separate experience and deserves to be treated as such. The features that can be found in both games add a level of familiarity, without being detrimental to the game. But let’s carry on shall we?

The Environment
The game environment is split up into very different sections. A river separates the lands of New Austin and Mexico, with each land being split up further into areas. Mexico is of course a dusty red-soiled land, with huge rock formations dominating the landscapes and chalky towns scattered across the countryside. New Austin is slightly more diverse, with the large desert landscape making up the majority of the state. The east is probably the most bio-diverse area, with a higher density of tree, grass on the ground, and even snow in some parts. The whole land of Red Dead Redemption is a stunning place, with so much to see and numerous natural wonders dotted around the map. The day/night cycle and ever changing weather also feature, and add a whole new element (quite literally) to the environment. One very noticeable feature in the game is the wildlife. There is a huge variety of flora and fauna to see and probably kill. As you would expect different animals can be found in different sections, for example the formidable grizzly bears can only be found in the northern mountainous sections. Red Dead Redemption’s environment is a living environment, there is always something going on, which inevitably adds a level of realism to the game.

The Gameplay
Now this is where people will draw on the ‘too much like GTA’ argument. So yes, Y (or triangle) is get on horse, A (or X) is jump and so on. It’s tried and tested and it works, so stop your whining. Weapons are split up into hand to hand, revolvers, rifles, shotties, throwables, and lasso. There are a variety of guns in the game, each with separate stats, and due to a wonderful wheel selection system choosing between each couldn’t be easier. The lasso is likely to be a favourite for many players. Using the lasso a player can grab a baddie, tie up said baddie, or (if you’re feeling particularly mean) drag the nasty man behind your horse. There is even an achievement for tying a woman, placing her on the train tracks and witnessing her demise (Rockstar, you sick devils).

The horses are your main form of transport. Players can have their own horse which can be summoned with a simple whistle. 2 and 4 horse wagons also feature in the game and can be grabbed off any passing AI you see on one. Alternatively you can grab a lift in the back of one and quick travel from town to town. Horses are not the cleverest animals in the world, but they will stop when approaching a cliff face, or any drop for that. This is a wonderful way of keeping your stallion alive, but does get slightly annoying when your horse reuses to drop a mere metre or so to avoid going the long way round. That being said, horses can take a pretty feeble amount of damage, so it’s not uncommon that you find yourself forcing your poor horsey down a drop only for it to collapse and ragdoll its way down, thus sending you rocketing off and meeting an earthly demise.

The damage mechanic is pretty impressive when shooting at enemies. Shoot them in the leg and they will fall over or limp off and so on. Each shot feels like it has a significant impact and can lead to some pretty realistic deaths.

The Multiplayer
Unfortunately I have had dabbled only slightly in multiplayer as single player has taken up ast amounts of my Red Dead experience. So here’s what I know. Your main lobby is an open world world environment in which you can do gang hideouts, hunt wildlife or pick pretty flowers (seriously you can). From here you can enter a variety of games such as death match and capture the bag. One awesome inclusion is the addition of duels to the start of every match. Each team lines up facing each other and shoots the shit out of the other team as soon as the command is given.

In multiplayer you can rank up through gaining experience from doing challenges in the open world or participating in online matches. Ranks unlock you new default weapons, new mounts and new playable characters. The game also features a ‘Legend’ system. Think Prestige mode in call of duty. Once you reach level 50 you can go all the way back to level 1. This allows you to unlock a selection of new characters and awesome mounts (such as a bull….. a BULL!), with the best available after going back about 3 or 4 times. This ensures there is always something to strive for in terms of rank, and due to the sheer amount of points required, it’s no easy task!

The Conclusion
Red Dead is amazing. End Of. Seriously though, this game offers a mostly unparalleled depth of game play and story. The single player is vast and offers a huge variety of events to complete and challenges to fulfil. The multiplayer is a wonderful extension to the single player, allowing your friends to join you in hunting that one grizzly bear, or take out those bastards hiding out in the canyon. Although the game types may not be the most original ever, they still add a wonderful level of competitiveness. Red Dead is not a game to miss out on, and is defiantly in contention for game of the year. Yee-bloody-haw.


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One comment

  1. Audrey /

    I’ll be picking-up this game as a gift later this summer. Definitely liking all of the reviews I see about it. (:



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