Incorporating montages of iconic moments that made Western movies memorable and exciting, “Red Dead Redemption” plays like an epic feature film that places the player in the starring role.
In “Red Dead Redemption,” players take control of a rough but kind-hearted ex-con by the name of John Marsh. After being left for dead by his former gang members, Marsh sets out on a quest for revenge in the lawless land at the Mexican-American border.
Being an ex-criminal, Marsh is a great shot with any weapon the player puts in his hands. However, as expected during the old West, weapon variety is limited. The player has to make do with pistols, rifles, knives and a trusty cowboy lasso that has a variety of uses.
The game makes up for its limited weaponry by providing the player with a highly technical yet simple shooting system. With the push of a button players can switch to a slow-motion bullet-time sequence in which Marsh targets several enemies and even specific body parts and then fires with deadly accuracy at all the target points selected.
Just like in old Western movies, players can consult bounty boards and hunt criminals in exchange for a monetary reward. The player can either kill a criminal and collect the money or capture them alive with the lasso to receive double the reward money. However, the tables can turn if the player decides to become notorious criminal, in which case a bounty will be put on Marsh’s head and bounty hunters will be out looking for him.
The bounty on Marsh’s head accumulates as players commit more and more crimes. For Marsh this means constant pursuit by bounty hunters, and the town sheriff and his gang. In order to eliminate the bounty, players need to either pay it off or present a pardon letter that absolves them from their misdeeds.
However, like most games developed by Rockstar committing criminal actions is encouraged and is not without its perks. Town folk will take cheaper bribes to keep quiet and other bandits will generally stay out of the player’s hair.
Being a good guy also has its perks, like getting discounts at shops and being nicely greeted by the town folk. This is achieved by helping law enforcement capture bandits, doing favors for people and trying to capture enemies alive rather than dead.
To help him along the way, Marsh enlists the help of several peculiar characters like the borderline crazy grave digger or the traveling medicine man who tricks people into buying phony cure-all remedies. The true personalities of these characters play out in cut-scenes which replace the typical action sequences found in most
games for witty dialogue that adds depth and realism to characters of the game.
It is easy to become sidetracked in “Red Dead Redemption” as the game lures the player in with different activities present in every town such as poker, black jack, liars dice, horse shoe and many other. While the activities in the cities and towns offer variety to the game, the wilderness also becomes a playground as players can search for treasure, run into bandits, coyotes, cougars, bears and other animals.
The desert environment might seem dull at first glance, but when examined the players will discover that there is always something happening in the wilderness. Be it random strangers in need of help, a pack of wolves or birds roaming the land, tough guys challenging Marsh to duels or a train cutting though the dusty, beautifully crafted desert. All while riding on a trusty horse that will die if neglected but will always come back from the ashes a couple of minutes later.
The game has a lot more to offer after the credits roll as players can share their cowboy experiences with up to 15 other buddies in a variety of competitive matches like capture the flag, domination or the Mexican stand-off. In this last one the players line up in front of each other as they anxiously wait for the count down to shoot mercilessly until all the players in either team have been defeated.
Rated M for mature and available for $59.99 at any game retailer “Red Dead Redemption” is money well spent with its 20 to 40-hour campaign, entertaining multi-player, dozens of side missions, hidden treasures and collectible items that will extend the player’s total game-play hours to more than a 100 if one is trying to achieve 100 percent completion.
For more information about the game visit http://www.rockstargames.com/reddeadredemption. “Red Dead Redemption” receives my rating of five stars out of five.