Red Dead Redemption
When I was lucky enough to sit down with the guys from Rockstar earlier in the year and play an early build of the game, one thing that they told me was seared into my mind; there are no loads in Red Dead Redemption. You’ll never have to wait for anything to load. I was a bit skeptical of this claim. They were also claiming that the three radically different territories would combine to make the biggest playable area in any game they had created. With no load times. Everything would just be there. Impossible I thought.
Now that I’ve played Red Dead Redemption for five days, I can say what most of you already know; there are no load times in Red Dead Redemption. Sure the missions are all preceded with cut scenes, and to save game you have to camp or sleep, but you can wander the entire area, and as long as you don’t die, will never have to wait for a game breaking loading screen to finish.Â
It’s this along with all the other details; the fact that this incredibly detailed world is also teaming with life and random events; the sheer beauty of the lighting and weather effects that will cause even the most jaded gamer to just stop and stare – that make Red Dead Redemption Rockstar’s finest game to date.
Of course the comparisons to Grand Theft Auto are easy to see, from the mini map and the fact that some missions are only available at certain times of the day, but essentially, Red Dead Redemption is nothing like Grand Theft Auto.
If Grand Theft Auto is a frenetic, drug induced action spectacular, Red Dead Redemption is an old fashioned drama teaming with – dare we say – values. Values that are not forced onto you – although whenever your character, John Marston, is approached by one of the many working ladies that populate Red Dead, he’ll politely tell them that he’s not into that anymore, or that he’s a married man – but this is the only time you’ll be forced to play the morally pure cowboy – any other time it’s up to you. You’ll often see a working lady cry out for help as an angry customer tries to cut her with a knife. This leaves you with many options, walk on by, intervene by shooting or hog tying the angry customer, or shooting the working woman. It’s your choice.
Choices, as in any Rockstar game, come with consequences. Your fame and honour are what makes up your character, and more importantly how other people react to you. Live a good life and you’ll likely have nuns run up to you and give you gifts. Lead a bad life of murder and robbery and people will stay away from you. Well, anyone not wanting to claim the bounty on your head.
The story-line and accompanying missions are varied and full of character – telling the tale of a time in history where major changes are about to happen. It’s a story of redemption as a hardened gunslinger turned peaceful family man is forced to hunt down the members of his old posse, or loose his wife and boy to the nefarious shady government types that coerced him back to his former ways. Through these missions you’ll learn all you need to know about life in the world that Rockstar has created, and in true Grand Theft Auto fashion, unlock the separate areas for free-roam play.
Of course, once the story-line is complete you’ll still have a huge amount of work, with challenges, side quests and general exploration before you’re ready to retire from this epic western opus, and then of course there is the online component, that as with most great games, works best when you’re playing with friends.
I know it’s early days, and there are a number of stella games still to come out this year, but it would be a no brainer to predict that Red Dead Redemption will collect it’s fair share of Game of the Year awards for 2010.
Reviewed on: XBox 360
Available on: XBox 360, PS3