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John Marston is single-handedly the greatest protagonist that Rockstar has ever created. The game's ability to capture his personality and simultaneously recreate the picturesque Wild West setting, makes for a compelling narrative rarely accomplished in games. Much of this has to do with the excellent voice acting and animation, making the scenes very cinematic. There are also the usual Rockstar tropes of dialog containing social commentary on American life, but Redemption executes these seemlessy, without disrupting the narrative.
With solid gameplay mechanics, ambient challenges, and believable characters, there is incentive to go beyond the main storyline. Rockstar develops this in a variety of ways; from the hunting of animals, to the picking of flowers, to the various random NPCs the user may find himself either helping or hurting. No decision you make can truly affect the outcome of the story, but instead your actions affect how NPC’s treat you. Sure, John is an honorable outlaw in personality, but Rockstar allows you to play the game anyway you would like. Therefore, if you want to go around being a generally unsavory fellow in the Wild West, the choice is yours. In the grand scheme of the storyline, the outcome does not have the same impact if you play the game as a villain. That said, this is the Wild West, and ultimately you are going to kill many people. Luckily, the combat mechanics have improved significantly over at GTA 4. Marston is able to utilize cover and execute a series of attacks sequentially, using a slow motion targeting system called Dead Eye. Dead Eye comes in handy when riding horse back and trying to shoot at the same time.
Weapon variety is fantastic for the period, offering up everything from bolt-action rifles to high-powered pistols. Even mini-guns make an appearance on occasion, increasing the blood shed in some missions significantly. There is also an open world component to the online play, where up to 16 people enter a free-roam session. In the multiplayer one can posse up to run gang hideouts, complete a new set of ambient challenges, or even run through some of the free co-op DLC. There are also some competitive modes online like deathmatch, capture the flag, and various objective-based matches. Really, the only thing missing are some of the mini-games from the single player like blackjack or poker. I do not understand what limitations are in place, but the option of gambling amongst your friends after running through town causing a ruckus would fit this game perfectly. I hope that they can release a patch, but if not, it is still one of the must own games of 2010, if not this generation.
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