Sunday, May 23

Deep Red Bells

Red Dead Redemption is Grand Theft Auto IV on horseback. To have assumed anything else would have been naive, and it is comforting to finally have this confirmed; for GTA IV is one of the greatest games released in the last few years with a gripping narrative, a cast of likeable characters, an authentic score and solid (if slightly flawed) gameplay.

There is no avoiding the comparison, or the conclusion. Most obviously, both games are third-person, sandbox action games developed by Rockstar. There are ample amounts of fetch quests at the outset of the campaign, designed to familiarise you with the controls and mechanics at play in the game. Missions are doled out by pivotal characters in a logical sequence, pushing you further out into the (brutal) landscape. There are various in-game vendors who sell weapons and consumbales. Also present are a variety of side quests from NPCs that are non-essential to the main story. You can also enjoy some mini-games which draw inspiration from the setting. Even the on-screen map is lifted from GTA IV. There are of course some subtle changes to the formula: health now regenerates if you hide from danger, there are (finally) mid-mission checkpoints and the cover mechanic is much tighter.

Does this mean that if you have played Grand Theft Auto IV you need not bother with Red Dead Redemption? Absolutely not. The story is truly compelling, and John Marston is proving to be even more endearing than Niko Belic. The combat is satisfying, with the refined Dead-Eye mechanic engineering some devastating kill shots. The soundtrack, while cliched, is thoroughly effective in capturing the grandeur of the Wild West. The missions you accept from non-essential NPCs, dubbed "Strangers," are also more interesting than those given by the random characters encountered in GTA IV. Plus, you don't see civilians attacked unprovoked by coyotes, cougars and other dangerous fauna in Liberty City.    

There is of course something else distinctly different about Red Dead Redemption: the landscape. The harsh, bitter, expansive landscape. It is possibly the most captivating aspect of the game. Nothing matches the spectacle of traversing the arid desert, watching rabbits and foxes scurry in front of your speeding equine companion. As you look up to the ominous sky, you can hear a steam-powered locomotive approaching from the east. You spur your horse on, matching the speed of the train. Against the sounds of the machinery and the various creatures, you hear a distressed traveller begging for help. Do you stop to help them? It could be a ruse, a trap to steal your noble steed. They may have been swindled themselves. There is so much violence, desparation and intrigue across this great land that it demands to be played.

Grandiose travel experiences aside, some of the mini-games and side quests are real time sinks. I spent an hour and a half playing Texas Hold 'Em on Saturday. I'm also prone to dropping anything and everything when I see a wanted poster.

I'm really looking forward to testing the multiplayer suite with a posse of noble/nefarious cowboys. I am hoping that enough of you grab Red Dead Redemption so that we can deliver some Unbearable Dutch justice to gamers across the world. Who's in partners?


  1. Cleanin' the ol' Peacemaker as we converse, be it a burden as such to state the Pony Express ain't yet placed my copy in my hands. This's one posse-up I will meet, though follow I must admit.

    Trail-blaze, gentlemen. I'll meet you on yonder plain.

  2. I had trouble putting the controller down last night. The grim reality is, quit now and sleep or play til 2 and have a horrible day at work. It is an addictive, well-refined formula for addiction.

    Also, EBGames is having a Mad Monday sale on their website today only. Rubes, AvP is only $50 on 360.

  3. Ahh the ol' AvP conundrum. I'll pass, i'll wait for 20.

    On the Red Dead Front....I found my Mule only to be crushed that it cant carry my captured bounties. So as to help my unnatural selection Trophy I put El Chuba Nigre down prayed for him then took his skin and meats. I was further crushed when realising his meat and pelt were worth only $2.

    I am Currently on the home stretch in Black Water and came across my first Buffalo. After reading on many places on the net you could use one instead of a horse, I was further crushed to find they were all liars as i cannot for the life of me Lasso one or press Triangle to ride one while next to it. I will continue to try.

    John Marsden is a great character, much better than Niko. Although alot of reviews have said how they did not think marsden was a convincing character, were they playing the same game?

    I have my semi-auto shotgun and pistol now and my glorious bolt action rifle. But has anyone else found the new duel system to be umm for lack of a better word gay? I have picked up on it more now but seriously if i press the trigger i want them to die, not to find out that im dead because thier duel bar was filled higher cause their cross hair was more accurate on each trigger press.

  4. Belic and Marsden share a lot of the same flaws. They talk about how the villains in the game take advantage of the townspeople, how they rape and murder but then you slay 50 or so gang members and think nothing of it. I found this to be more distracting in GTA IV, especially in the mission where Johnny Klebitz and Niko get busted at a drug deal and you have to slay about 50 SWAT team members to escape. After that mission there is no mention of those lawmen and their families that are now fatherless. Kind of takes some of the shine off.

  5. I am so devastated I can't pick this game up yet. I really really want to play it.

    I actually thought GTAIV was over rated. I found myself getting bored by the end of it. I enjoyed San Andreas so much more. The fact that it had pushies was a winner for me.

    But yes, I am all pumped to saddle up and shoot some bitches in the face with gun.

  6. I also thought GTA4 was a let down story wise Samma. So far Red dead has been more engrossing. Im hoping for a good ending and a BUFFALO mount!

  7. I loved the story in GTA IV, and while the last few missions were frustrating, I thought it ended on the right note. I really enjoyed the characters of Niko and Roman. It is my favourite GTA, San Andreas was too wacky for my money.

    RDR is worth the wait Sambo, can't wait for the posse to ride together.

  8. San Andreas was my favourite, tris can vouch for me I finished that game in a day.

    Loved it. I still feel like no sandbox title has matched it since. I want a superhero sandbox done right, it will never happen :(

  9. I thought San Andreas was terrific. Got incredibly hooked on the territory control modes and just spent hours engaging in urban warfare.

  10. i loved hijacking planes and bailing out a crazy altitudes of the vegas area and landing on the crazy looking hotels then base jumping off of them, if San Andreas had Just cause style stunts it would have been the greatest game in history.

    all GTA's should have had planes, especially GTA 4. dont know why they excluded them.

  11. I can think of a prominent date in recent history which would have ensured that any videogame representation/interpretation of NY was plane free.

  12. Can I just reiterate how Carly Leeson won Woman of the Week after her kind act into broadening the Dutch communication? Round of applause for that effort.

  13. She is pretty amazing. Now it's up to you croutons to hit the greater South West so I can put this expensive plastic earring to work.

  14. Real life events should not impact my gaming.

    Even though funnily enough the first thing said when i got in a jumbo in JC2 was do a 9/11

  15. Yes yes I can not wait do go buffallo hunting!

    And San Andreas was awesome. I replayed through that game four times. I liked the weapons, I liked the vehicles, I liked the fact that the world was huge. I found GTAIV to be smaller and less interesting, everything was the same.

    And Roman had to be one of the most annoying characters in any game period. Also, Niko was the world's biggest hypocrite. Worrying about senseless death than going and slaughtering 50 swat members. Seriously.

  16. Buffalo Hunting is uncool man, I feel like our online posse will have me as some sort of indian shaman to pray for all the poor little critters we will be slaughtering.

    Although i do enjoy the hunting aspect i wish i could actually eat the meat so ifelt like i was consuming that which i kill, i know its a game but animals are cute and fuzzy and i would like a pet of each one, and wheres my rideable buffalo dammit!

    I concur sam, seriously disliked roman and niko.

  17. I do hope the next Red Faction has online co-op. I could see a lot of fun being had on Mars with destructible environments and a bunch of grizzled, disgruntled miners with jetpacks, sledgehammers and thermobaric rockets. It'd be nice if they had a MAG-like player-count, too.

    Anyway, come on RDR! Arrive in my mailbox!

  18. Reuben said:

    "i wish i could actually eat the meat so ifelt like i was consuming that which i kill,"

    Um...k. Save your bullets for the other cowboys partner.

    Taz, I wasn't a huge fan of Red Faction's multiplayer. The only thing that I found endearing was the Rhino backpack. Hilarious!

  19. Was red faction the one with the game mode that was like jenga? If so, that was mad fun.

  20. I don't remember playing Jenga on Mars while trying to land a headshot :p