Shelby is a fan of all things video games, movies, and music.
Introduction & Technical Issues
This review was written based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game, with all additional downloadable content.
Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar's recreation of the dying Wild West, set in the year 1911. The game features a large open world, spanning the fictional locations of New Austin, West Elizabeth, and Nuevo Paradiso which take the place of real-world locations Texas and Mexico. Rockstar utilizes these locations incredibly well in the main missions, alongside the side content that is scattered throughout the open world, giving the player lots to see and even more to do among many varied environments.
Whether roaming through the mountains, forests, or deserts, Red Dead Redemption manages to have a beautiful world even eight years later. It isn't without blemishes but for a game running on hardware that over 10 years old, it's quite impressive. Unfortunately, all this beauty comes with issues like frame rate drops in moments featuring many enemies, tons of bullets flying, or large amounts of smoke/fire. Red Dead Redemption also features significant pop-in on things such as grass, leaves, and shadows. These specific graphical issues don't affect gameplay in any way, but it could bother a certain subset of players.
The game's story is superbly told, with interesting cut-scenes and characters that allow the actors to take center stage to keep players interested for whatever their mission may entail. Sending the players on a hunt for ex-brothers in arms was a good way to make characters interested in John's trouble past right from the beginning of the game, leading me to empathize with the man throughout the game's trials. The game does suffer from some slight pacing issues, however. The game's second act goes on just a bit too long, while its third is a bit too short. It's not a major slight but its a bit of a downer after finishing the game to have the most interesting part of John Marston's dilemma between old friendships and the present be resolved in roughly 10 missions.
Speaking of missions; the game clocks in with a whopping 57 main missions in total, putting it behind most 3D Grand Theft Auto entries. Some may see this as a bit of a let down, but I find that it's just enough to get the story without feeling to drawn out or sending the player on missions that are more annoying than fun (looking at you San Andreas). Red Dead Redemption also introduces the mid-mission checkpoint system that would carry forward to Grand Theft Auto 5, a very welcome addition to Rockstar open world games.
Another aspect that holds up quite well is the gameplay itself, particularly the shooting mechanics. The act of aiming and shooting in Red Dead Redemption is easy, smooth, and simple while being incredibly satisfying due to a combination of enemy reactions, gun audio, and the "Dead Eye" system to create my personal favorite shooting in a Rockstar game to date. It's clear that gunplay was a focus of the team compared to games like Grand Theft Auto 4 or Grand Theft Auto 5 and their efforts paid off, creating a combat system that I go out of my way to use rather than simply putting up with it in most Rockstar open world titles.
The gameplay loop is also rock-solid, leading to an experience in which I have spent many hours losing myself in the world and its activities. Going between Main Missions, Stranger quests, hunting, and other miscellaneous activities links so naturally that you'd think the path was handcrafted to always give the player something to do.
Quality of Life Additions
Luckily for those not interested in the side activities and hoping to get straight to the story or other specific activities, Red Dead Redemption features a fast-travel (almost) anywhere system which will allow players to jump between sections of the map without all that "pesky" exploring.
This fast travel system also carries over to the game's multiplayer Free Roam lobby, in which players can teleport from any fast travel point in the world to waypoint just as they can in single player. This is a game-changer when it comes to saving time while saddling up with friends to do gang hideouts or other activities, and is a feature that's sorely missed in Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto Online.
Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer is a fantastic addition to a game with an already incredibly strong single-player and is something that I've continued to play years after its original release. Whether it's roaming the world with my posse, gambling in a game of liars dice, or enjoying a quick draw duel to start a deathmatch, Red Dead Redemption's online component has something that should satisfy every type of online multiplayer fan. The inclusion of weapon/skin unlocks and a successful implementation also shows that Rockstar knew how to successfully move almost every aspect of the single-player portion to create a multiplayer that could be enjoyed for many all-nighters for gamers everywhere.
All in all, Red Dead Redemption is a game that holds up eight years later. With a solid plot, fantastic voice acting, satisfying gameplay, and great graphics. Red Dead Redemption is a game that I will be replaying for many years to come and has me foaming at the mouth to see Rockstar's next western outings.
I give Rockstar Games' Red Dead Redemption, a 5 out of 5
© 2019 Shelby Walles