After roughly 30 hours of gun-totin’, horse-wranglin’, Liar’s Dice playin’ fun on the Xbox360, I’m finally finished with Red Dead Redemption. Even so, I can’t say I’m entirely enamored with it, though I did enjoy myself quite a bit.
Admittedly, my anticipation for this game diminished somewhat when I heard someone I know describe it as “Grand Theft Auto with horses”. Nothing against GTA, but it just wasn’t my thing. What eventually wore me down in that game was the repetitive content and the aggravation involved whenever you failed a mission and had to drive back clear across town from where you respawned in order to redo it.
After a glowing review from Blue Kae, however, I decided I had to give RDR a try.
Thankfully, it had none of the things that made me feel so irritated with GTA. Nevertheless, I can understand the comparisons. Despite the setting, many of the mechanics remained very similar, and in some ways, that familiarity helped me jump right into the game. Mid-mission save points are also a godsend, and while some elements of the game still felt repetitive, I felt RDR provided a much better mix of activities and mission objectives.
The open-world concept is also intact, and players can choose to plow on through the main quests with John Marston or take him on a detour through a town to play some Black Jack, rescue damsels in distress, or help strangers complete various tasks. I loved the freedom and flexibility to do things at your own pace, and the ability to explore the beauty of the American frontier while experimenting with different actions to see how the in-game populace will react to your shenanigans. There are some consequences of gaining or losing a certain amount of honor or fame, and sometimes they can surprise you.
Playing John Marston was also very different from playing the protagonists of the GTA games. Here’s a man who has walked away from his life as an outlaw, and now going to great lengths to save his family. You’re still forced to do some pretty douchey things, but as some have already noted, it’s easier to sympathize with Marston because his intentions are honorable.
This was mostly why, as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, I played my John Marston as a gentleman, leading to conservative gameplay as a result. It suffices to say, I always like to play “in character”, but at some point I did decide to loosen up a little, and by the VERY end of the game, I was a downright jerk. There’s another reason for this, but it has to do with the ending of the story, and there’s not going to be any spoilers here. However, I will say this: Anjin was right about his praise for the ending of RDR. I felt the pacing of the game took a bit of the poignancy out of it though, but nonetheless, I agree that it’s one that stays with you.
When all is said and done, I did very much enjoy being a cowboy. After a friend of mine told me about the “poncho outfit” I’d be unlocking once I got to Mexico, I put it on and wore it every chance I got, walking around feeling like Clint Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars. I reveled in driving cattle, breaking horses, dueling challengers, and hunting coyote. The one thing I didn’t do a lot was hit up the card-and-dice tables at the local saloons. I don’t much like gambling with my hard earned money, in-game or in life.
By the way, I have not done any of the co-op play, but if anyone is interested in trying it out with me, let me know.