Red Dead Redemption – The R* Classic

Having recently repurchased another Xbox 360 console following a red-ring of death to my previous machine which was never repaired three years ago, I have sought to go back and replay a number of modern titles that were released throughout the 360’s lifespan that I may not have spent enough time with.

Armed with a new gamertag (drobc88 for the curious) and with renewed hope of erasing the frustrating first memories of my experiences with Microsoft’s second home console, a quick visit to the drawer underneath my coffee table revealed a whole host of titles that I simply had to dedicate my time to giving another play through; the Rockstar developed hit, Red Dead Redemption being one of them.

To begin, Red Dead Redemption is quite simply the greatest open world video game of the seventh generation; possibly of all time.

This may seem like a bold statement, especially considering the critically acclaimed and revered  Grand Theft Auto V and its predecessor Grand Theft Auto IV with its subsequent DLC (The Lost & Damned/Ballad of Gay Tony) were also released during this period.

This statement however, does not detract from the experiences that those titles have to offer; it just reinforces just how good Red Dead Redemption actually is.

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The depiction of the American Midwest in the late 1800’s is breathtaking; even today.

Set to the backdrop of Austin, Texas during the turn of the 20th century, Red Dead sees you take control of lead protagonist John Marston. The main plot thread running throughout the game sees John; an outlaw, betrayed by his gang of fellow criminals and subsequently recruited by the US government. John is tasked to track his former comrades down in an effort to bring them to justice; with the threat of murder to his wife and child should he fail to comply.

The always engaging plot constantly throws clever black humour, surprises and moments of genuine emotion at the player; culminating in quite possibly one of gaming’s greatest epilogues.

Red Dead Redemption isn’t a game; its an experience.

From the very beginning Red Dead Redemption introduces its standout feature; the American Frontier, a beautiful sprawling landscape inhabited by an array of wacky and wonderfully crafted characters, needless to say, the setting, script, themes and character profiles throughout the time spent with the game portray the authenticity of the ‘wild west’ during the late 1800’s absolutely perfectly; far better than any game has managed previously, or since.

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Jenny, the devout faith believer is an example of the wonderfully crafted characters.

Re-introducing a variation of the engine seen in previous Grand Theft Auto titles Red Dead introduces several new game mechanics including the use of the Dead Eye system, a gun-play option which sees time slow down, enabling the player to pick their shots accurately and stylistically – in typical western fashion.

Horseplay is also introduced, or rather the use of horses as vehicles. Horses take the place of traditional vehicles such as cars or bikes as seen in previous Rockstar titles and are a fantastic addition overall. The horse mechanics are crisp and rarely feature any issues – a few times upon calling my horse I found him venturing a bit too far ahead, but my girlfriend rarely listens to me either; so it may just be me!

A few negative features are present within the game, however these issues are not necessarily of the game play variety; but of a technical one. Unfortunately Red Dead Redemption does suffer from occasional slowdown; particularly during scenes in which numerous NPC’s are on screen. During these times it is not unusual to see framerates drop below the 20FPS mark; often unacceptable in gaming, but certainly more forgivable given the scope and format of the title.

Other minor issues include the landscape itself, in the sense  that clipping and minor graphical errors can often present themselves; again as stated, a minor issue overall.

Despite the size, magnitude and the representation of the American Midwest within the game, players will rarely (if ever) get bored, especially with many of Red Dead’s settlements hosting Poker games, stranger missions and Liars Dice tournaments amongst many other activities.

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Numerous activities and bonuses are available alongside the main game including additional costumes.

With talk of a Red Dead 2 in the works it is also worth mentioning that Red Dead Redemption is now available as a backwards compatible title on the Xbox One marketplace; whilst still impressing far more than most other current gen titles available to date.

With that being said I cannot recommend Red Dead Redemption highly enough, if you haven’t experienced this iconic, story driven western epic, then simply put; you need to.

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