Red Dead Redemption is often considered one of the defining games of the last console generation. With its combination of compelling story and breathtaking atmosphere, it will exceedingly well reviewed and topped the sales charts. The intention of this article is to provide a detailed Red Dead Redemption review.
|Type of game:||Action/Adventure|
|Multiplayer/Co-Op:||Yes/Yes (with DLC)|
|Total Playtime||25 hours|
|System Requirements:||OS: Windows 7 or higher (32-bit or 64-bit)
Processor: 1.8GHz Dual-Core Intel or Athlon
Memory: 2GB RAM
Graphics: GTX 650 / GTX 550Ti, Radeon HD 7770, 6770
Network: Broadband Internet connection
Storage: 10 GB available space
The World of Red Dead Redemption
One of the defining features of Red Dead Redemption is the depth of its world. Taking place in a fictionalized version of the US around the turn of the 20th Century, it helped to push narrative gaming in a unique direction. To better understand the game, one must understand the game’s atmosphere, its main characters, and the storyline of the game.
Atmosphere & Location
The world of Red Dead Redemption is that of the American Southwest during the dying days of the Old West. It is still a world of cowboys and outlaws, but the trains are coming through and the world is beginning to be drawn together by telegraph lines. It is the end of the frontier and the game absolutely plays with both preconceptions and stereotypes about this period.
The game world is divided into a few sections, each of which define the Wild West in a different way. There are a few typical Wild West towns, equally lawless and prosperous. There is the wide open plains, still home to the last of the bison. As the player progresses, he or she will visit the Mexican frontier and a growing 20th century town. Each area is accompanied by its own musical cues and unique visuals.
This is a game that wears its influences on its sleeve. There are clear references not only to genre deconstructions like Unforgiven, but also references to classic westerns like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and even the films of John Wayne. This is a game that is perhaps a bit more Sergio Leone than John Ford, but it certainly owes a huge debt to both directors.
The main character of Red Dead Redemption is John Marston, a former outlaw turned family man and farmer. As we meet the character in the beginning of the game, he definitely meets the definition of a boxed criminal. He’s in the middle of a task that he desperately doesn’t want to do, but that he feels necessary.
It’s interesting to follow John as he journeys through the game because he doesn’t really change – it’s the world around him that’s constantly changing. John is more than aware of the fact that he is a relic of a time gone by, one that he seems more than happy to abandon. Given his choice, John would give up every bit of his deadly lifestyle to spend time on his family farm.
In a typical video game, a character like John would, at least in some way, find a way to reconcile his past with his past actions. In this game, though, John is already a fully-formed and mature character. He’s powerless in the face of what’s going on around him and he already knows that. There’s no need for John to grow – he’s already exactly where he needs to be.
In fact, you could say that a major unifying theme of all the characters in this game is that – with one notable exception which is a spoiler – they don’t grow. These characters are at the end of a story, not at the beginning, As such, the player watches them live out the consequences of their decisions.
Fully formed or not, John is a fantastic protagonist. He’s a good man in his own way, even if he’s willing to terrible things to fulfill his duty. He has a sense of honor, a loyalty to his family, and a unique point of view. He’s definitely a character with which most players will enjoy spending time.
The story of the game is, at its core, fairly simple. John Marston, former outlaw and thief, has been recruited by the US government to take down his former gang. The problem is that John has long since lost touch with these men, instead preferring to live out a life of quiet seclusion with his wife and his son. Upon being called back to action, he must track down the remaining members of his gang and deal with them – or face deadly consequences.
While that might be the plot of Red Dead Redemption, that’s not what the game is about. Instead, the game is about the dying days of the Old West. John and his gang members are men from another time, one when the law was somewhat less absolute and every man could stick to his own code. As John adventures throughout the Southwest United States, he begins to learn that the way he lived his life was not only destructive, but that it ultimately faded away to memory.
If you have played any of Rockstar’s other games, you have a fair idea of how the mission structure works. While there is a main overarching storyline, John is also able to undertake a number of missions for side characters. These are as varied as gunfights and roping cattle, but they all help to build the feeling of a living world.
Outside of the missions, John can also collect bounties, rob banks, and even hunt rare animals. The world is open and breathing and there’s nothing that forces players into following the story. While the game does have a very definitive end, the player can spend many hours meandering to that point. Ultimately, though, the player – like John Marston- has little choice in where things are heading.
DLC & Expansion Packs
There are a few different DLC packs that were released for Red Dead Redemption and the vast majority of them were focused on the multiplayer aspect of the game. Liars and Cheats, Legends and Killers, and Myths and Mavericks all added multiplayer maps and activities, but none of them are particularly worth buying at this point – since most of the player base has moved on, multiplayer isn’t the best place to spend your money.
There are a few fully cosmetic DLCs, as well. War Horse, Golden Guns, and the Deadly Assassin Outfit simply change the looks of your horse, weapons, and character. These are certainly not worth the money, but they are worth downloading if you get the Game of the Year Edition.
The game also go a full expansion in Undead Nightmare, which is a horror-themed conversion of the main game. Taking place in an alternate timeline, John Marston is forced to deal with an undead invasion and a number of other supernatural elements. It adds quite a bit to the game and is packed with the Game of the Year Edition, so it’s definitely worth playing.
Red Dead Redemption is a game that combines an amazing since of atmosphere, strong characters, and an outstanding plot to create a game unlike any other. There are few Westerns in the gaming world, and those that have been made rarely reach the heights of this game. For a studio that’s best known for its over-the-top action, Rockstar has created a very thoughtful and focused game.
Have you played Red Dead Redemption? Do you think that it lives up to the hype? Let us know what you think by getting in contact with us – we’d love to hear from you!