I took the day off on Friday for the sole purpose of playing a videogame while my nine-year-old was at school. It's not something I do very often... but when the game was Red Dead Redemption, I expected it would be well worth it.
Now, Red Dead Redemption is a Rockstar game. I'm not really a fan of Rockstar games, generally... nothing to do with the subject matters, I just find myself getting bored and wondering what to do next. I know there are storylines to follow, but it seems that for most people, the biggest joy of their games (and I'm talking Grand Theft Auto here) is going off the main path and finding little side quests. I'm not good with that (and yet I love Fallout 3, which does a similar thing).
I did, however, love Red Dead Revolver. And I like the old West setting. And Clint Eastwood movies. I'm not saying I like cowboys. Don't take that the wrong way.
Hehe. They won't even know what hit 'em.
Red Dead Redemption has been on my radar for a long time now. Not just because it's the follow up to Red Dead Revolver, but also because every screenshot and video released over the last few months has made the game look better and more interesting.
Typically, my Friday saw me unable to start the game until after 11am... not really how I'd hoped my day off would go. Still, that gave me four hours of uninterrupted yee-hawing to start with. Having said that, the last time I took the day off for gaming was on the release day for Grand Theft Auto IV, suprisingly enough. And after about an hour in that game, I was wandering around in circles with nothing to do. I did that for hours, before finally noticing that the next trigger point for a mission was just around the corner, and I'd missed it for that whole time. Kind of ruined my experience, and my day.
A grizzled old marshall. That's not his "pleased to see you" face.
I haven't had any such problems with RDR. The story has flowed really well, and I've been able to break from it to do my own thing (which has mostly involved playing poker) and pick back up where I left off without any problems. As for that story, well... so far, it seems like a pretty good Western tale to me. The voice acting is very good, as are the animations of the characters while talking. This is usually something where games fall down... the characters could be spouting the finest prose written by man, but it looks like they're going "Blaaaahhhh... blaaaahhhhh... blaaaaaahhhhhh...". Here, they actually look pretty much like they're talking.
I've spent a good chunk of the weekend with the game, and I reckon that Rockstar have got a hell of a lot right with it. It looks phenomenal... sweeping vistas and dusty plains are the order of the day. At one point, I was sitting on my horse on the edge of a cliff, looking miles into the distance with the sun beating down and a heat haze obscuring my view... I could have sat like that for hours. The sound, too, is really good, with little western snippets striking up at appropriate moments, and the incidental sounds all hitting the right notes.
Dead or alive, you're coming with me. Just your skin and meat if you're dead, though.
But it's the gameplay that's the main part of any game, obviously, and this just feels great to play. And I'm not just talking about the gunfighting... a lot of the old West was rather mundane, but Rockstar have made even the mundane exciting. I've just spent some time rounding up a herd of frightened cattle in a thunderstorm... an everyday job a hundred years ago, but it felt important in the game, and there was a real sense of achievement at seeing them all safely home.
There's a lot left for me to do in Red Dead Redemption, and I'm looking forward to every minute of it. Whether it's sticking to the storyline, breaking off for a game of poker with the boys or just heading off with my horse for a mosey across the desert, it's an experience I'm planning to savour.