Back in the early days of the Playstation 2 there was a little known game called Grand Theft Auto III. The game was based on two previous iterations that were originally a top down game that evolved into a three dimensional, open world game. GTAIII was my first real exposure to the gaming industry giant, Rockstar. So when I first heard that Rockstar was making a spaghetti western styled open world game I was intrigued to say the least. Time came and went and Red Dead Redemption came out, the game was a loosely based sequel to Red Dead Revolver though the only thing these two games seemed to share was title phrasing.
After some extenuating circumstances left me unable to buy the game when it launched, I was finally able to get my hands on the game and promptly kissed many hours of my life goodbye. From the opening cinematic to the earthshaking ending, I was enthralled with the story of John Marston and company. Set in 1911, the game highlights a change in american history when the age of the cowboy was ending and the industrial revolution was reaching the west bringing with it technology and a new way of life. One of the most amazing characters in the game was the setting itself. Rockstar managed to finally bring a compelling, living world to the forefront that beckoned you into it with its siren song of wild animals and remarkable ambient noise. It wasn’t until I sat through a torrential downpour complete with thunder and lightning did it really sink in how amazing this world felt. On top of the amazing vistas and dutifully rendered creatures roaming throughout, the game also provides some surprises along the way. As I traveled from one location to another I found myself routinely being drawn into these small contained events which demanded some form of action on my part. Whether it be stopping a thug who just robbed the general store, or bringing some escaped prisoners back to the marshal I was consistently presented with the moral option to either act or stand by.
The game itself has no shortage of side quests and activities. On top of the randomly generated occurrences players also come across strangers at certain points requiring a task be completed in some form or another. If I wasn’t feeling particularly active, I could also spend a good amount of time gambling in the various locations scattered across the map. Poker, Blackjack, Liars Dice, Five Finger Fillet, Arm Wrestling and Horseshoes all seek to separate me from my hard earned money. On top of that buffet of side activities, players also have the options to perform some jobs as well. Nightwatch requires the player to patrol an area keeping an eye out for trouble, and when it rears its ugly head you are expected to stop it. Horse breaking eventually comes up and the player can riding bucking broncos in exchange for cash.
There are 57 main story missions that take the player on one amazing journey worthy of comparison to some of the all time greatest westerns in entertainment history. John Marston has been sent on a mission to kill or capture his old gang mates or risk forever losing his wife and son. Marston has turned over a new leaf and was trying to go straight when government agents dragged him back into the fray. As you might imagine his mission doesn’t begin terribly well, but in the end you walk away feeling like a very powerful hero character. There was a good variety of mission type, and the characters you come across are very memorable which caused me to be saddened when I completed all missions from a specific character.
As the laundry list of challenges slowly whittles away the time, the player also is given the option to complete ambient leveled challenges in Treasure Hunting. Coming up here on Trial and Error, I plan to tell some of my interesting and sometimes humorous stories from the old west. While this game has been out for some time, I could not be happier that I purchased it. This is the first Rockstar game published in which I felt truly compelled to complete the entire game. Red Dead Redemption has changed what I’ve come to expect from a game, and it is no wonder when a game’s environment can be considered a character all its own.