When I went to the midnight release of Red Dead Redemption, I didn’t know what to think. I had only pre-ordered my copy about 5 hours prior, and I hadn’t even read a single preview yet, but I figured if Rockstar Games was making a western: sign me up!
It turns out that my expectations were a little off.
I didn’t start Red Dead Redemption gunning down innocent people or stealing thousands of horses. In fact, if I did, I would have to restart from my last checkpoint because I broke the law. Instead, the game caused me to focus on being an honest man.
I found myself learning how to herd cattle, tame horses, and drive a stagecoach safely to town. Sure, I shot some coyotes here and there, and the occasional chicken, but I didn’t start my life out in Red Dead Redemption as a murderous outlaw.
I was instantly aware of what Rockstar was trying to do.
In the “Grand Theft Auto” games, the lead character is always someone who is haunted by their past and can’t escape it. The same is true with Red Dead Redemption, yet, in this iteration, Rockstar Games attempts to make you care for John Marston – the lead character.
Through careful quest progression and character dialogue at the premier of the game, Rockstar has constructed a lead character that, as I played, I didn’t want to destroy. I wanted to do the right thing, and let John Marston live his dream of leaving the gang-filled life behind.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be the first person to go through any type of story as the evil character first (and I’m sure most of you do as well), but Rockstar Games has pulled the wool over my eyes and secretly caused me to go in a righteous direction- bastards! (Just kidding, I love Rockstar)
Instead of shooting criminals, who obviously deserved to die, I found myself risking my life by hogtying them and bringing them to justice alive. After I would throw them on my horse and bring them to town, the marshal would then shoot the criminals right in front of my face.
Moments like these were shocking, and also part of what I consider to be a true western – heart-breaking.
Nevertheless, the time has come for the moment you have all been waiting for: 3 reasons to buy Red Dead Redemption. Now, I guarantee that these are not the only reasons to buy and play this game, but they are definitely my favorite personal experiences from Red Dead Redemption.
1. The Environment
“the mixture of quests and environments never cease to amaze the human concept of adventure.”
On my journey through Red Dead Redemption, I found myself traveling through everything from dusty plains, to snowy mountain-tops. I traveled through Mexican mesa-filled deserts, to tree-filled valleys with fast moving rapids. If you play video games, or have any respect for the beauty of nature whatsoever, do yourself a favor and experience the masterful art found in RDR (I will be referring to Red Dead Redemption as RDR from here on out).
Not only are the environments epic, but the backdrop is equally as stunning. Imagine riding a horse on the top of a canyon as the clouds unleash their fury upon you. Well, you don’t have to imagine it, because RDR force feeds you stunning weather and environments as you travel through a huge, untamed world.
2. The Characters
“The social views and perceptions of the era were evident from the very start of the game.”
Most people spend their time watching movies or TV shows, but Rockstar is here to show the consumer that video games can compete with the big boys and provide just as much entertainment.
Since you have to watch a video at the beginning and end of every mission, it’s very important to have something interesting to watch. Each character that I met, had such good writing and voice-acting; I almost felt as if each character should be appearing on a new episode of “Lost”, or Lost’s ‘western’ counterpart. The social views and perceptions of the era were evident from the very start of the game.
Rockstar Games has chosen not to tell you how distorted ideas were in Wild West, they decided to show you through the use of innovative character design and writing.
3. Epic/Shock Moments
“Viva la Revoltion!”
I know everyone secretly wishes that they could capture a train stealthily with throwing knives for the sake of a government’s revolution (Viva la Revolution!). But if you don’t, then you should probably check your priority list.
The epic moments within RDR’s story-line kept presenting themselves time and time again. Whether it was ransacking a government hideout in a canyon during a thunderstorm or charging up a snowy mountain peek on horseback in search of a lost son, the mixture of quests and environments never cease to amaze the human concept of adventure.
These quests also serve as a valid point in furthering the lead character and creating an emotional connection to the game.
4. The Best Moment In Gaming
“moments after this event are amazing and jaw-dropping”
I know that I’ve betrayed your trust by forcing a 4th reason upon you when I said only three, but hear me out…
There are few moments in gaming that are truly artfully crafted to leave a lasting effect. I’m not saying that games are art, but I am saying that, what I believe to be a scripted moment within RDR, is the best that I have experienced. Now, it may be because of my childhood obsession with ‘cowboys and indians’, but it could also be because one developer genuinely understands what they are doing within a genre.
About halfway through the game, I found myself crossing the Mexican border in search of my old gang members. After fighting several dozen enemies on the the river’s edge, I finally get to a horse, and onto the next part of my journey. The moments after this event are amazing and jaw-dropping.
Those few amazing minutes rival the nostalgic, gaming moments I had as a kid, and they will always be remembered.
In conclusion: have you ever wanted to be a cowboy or cowgirl? Have you been lost in life not knowing who you are? Has your world been turned upside down by the Mexican government? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, Red Dead Redemption is the game for you.
Check out my full review at: iheartvideogames.com
About the author: Nathan Standridge is a freelance writer and once thought that he could juggle well.
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