Preowned Experiment: Big Villain 8 7/8
The Good, Bad and the Glitches.
Of all the words associated with gamers being fired out of liberal hipsters mouths these days (lol misogyny) the words I’d use to describe gamers is time travellers. I mean think about it, you get to go into the past or future to explore a wide collection of kick ass time periods without a phone booth or a flux capacitor.
On these experiments, we’ve seen Pirates, Spacemen, Undead Ninjas, Assassins, Archaeologists, Mary Sues, Vietnam “Black Ops” soldiers, Overlords and the like.
I guess we can now add Cowboys to that list.
I think if we’re being honest with ourselves, Cowboys don’t lend themselves at many decent video games. The only one that comes to my warped little mind is Konami’s classic arcade shoot em up Sunset Riders. However I think Red Dead Redemption may have kicked Sunset Riders off its perch for best Cowboy Game I’ve ever played…. A list consisting of two games mind you but the point still stands.
While I did fall out with Rockstar with how they turned Grand Theft Auto into “Boring Cousin Babysitter Simulator” with the 4th instalment while I went to hang out with Saints Row, I will admit they did win me over with the superior L.A. Noire and I think even RDR tops that too. I’m a simple man to please and all I want from a western is to show up and blow bitches’ heads clean the fuck off….
… Is what I would be saying if I didn’t spend 80% of the game riding on a horse!
I get that this is set in the year 1911 but the journey from point A to point B can really take a long ass time. Mainly when I arrived in Mexico and the two mission options were on opposite ends of the map, oh and speaking of Mexico if I’m perfectly able to just ride over a bridge to get in and out of the place; why in fuck did I get on a raft with a drunk Irishman… with an Irishman who deemed it “the only way in?”
I’m not saying the horse riding is bad but it’s the most fiddly and flawed part of the game. Mainly when shooting targets on horse back. Seriously Rockstar, you expect me to maintain a steady speed WHILE aiming a gun and firing? It got easier over time but only after hours of fiddling, dying and frustratingly accommodating to this preposterous set up. That being the lone black cloud in this perfect blue sky of pistol duelling, bandit capturing and tobacco chompin while the rest of the issues come off as nitpicky.
Let’s deal with the nitpicks now. What was the point of bringing back the cattle rustling tutorial near the end of the game? I got that at the start but that strikes me as an odd design choice. Considering it is the most tedious and boring part of the overall package (next to the long ass journeys) for it did kill the bullet bill pace I was thundering at to wrangle up some cows. The natural argument I had with myself is “but it’s embracing everything about being a Cowboy!” which is correct, to which I snapped back at myself “So why are things like poker playing, pistol duelling, bandit capturing and drinking till my ass falls off side quests or optional but herding cows is mandatory?” then myself ran for the hills cus he couldn’t think of a decent retort.
Probably my favourite of the side quests (that I bothered to try) was capturing bandits. Mainly because you’re given the option of either capturing them or just fill em full of led! I also was reminded heavily of Sunset Riders in these mini games which made it twice as fun for me. Also it’s a beautiful and divine middle finger in the direction of Ubi-Soft for this mini game of rounding up targets and “assassinating” them as I see fit, is done perfectly and flawlessly compared to it’s long drawn out series that is nothing but a former shell of itself. When I eventually get around to replaying this game I will waste more time on the mini games and side quests, which is a good segway to talk about the main story campaign.
Set in the final days of the old west to make way for the early stages of dumbass government America. John Marston is a former outlaw turned farmer who’s snagged up by the US Government to bring his old gang to justice. To make sure he cooperates they saw fit to kidnap his family and uses them as a bargaining chip (sorry who are the bad guys here?) as he travels across America and Mexico to bring his old buddies to justice.
My biggest gripe is John Marston himself. Yes he does badass things but the man himself is like a brick with an angry face drawn onto it… Or for a wrestling comparison, he’s basically Roman Reigns in a cowboy hat! I listen to him talk and he doesn’t sound like a hardass cowboy with a licence to murder, but rather a guy just reading his lines and waiting for his cheque to clear! The story itself is handled as well as Rockstar can, with no character feeling wasted and unimportant to the actual story…. With maybe one or two exceptions.
John’s family don’t come into things until right at the end and the game gives you a quick 20 minutes to establish them before the credits need to start rolling. To be fair, his son Jack gets an incredibly satisfying closure but his wife Abby comes off as a blank slate and forgettable. The only other lack of characterization comes from Escuella down in Mexico. He has a quick chat with John to establish himself and that’s it. I would have thought the guys I’m rounding up would have some degree of importance to the overall story. Sure not all games need to give their villains a big set up, like I never needed to hear Spark Man or Ludwig Von Koopa’s life story, but in a story heavy driven game like this that comes off as a misstep.
I did like the side characters but I didn’t spend enough time with them that I’d of liked. I mean an Irishman, a grave robber, HeavyBassX, randy Mexicans, a Sheriff, an old Cowboy, a sexy farmhand, a rebellious Mexican woman and a deranged drug user are the kind of people I’d love to hang out with, but the game kept disappointingly ham fisting Edgar Ross and “BIG GOVERNMENT IS BAD!!” speeches down my throat!
Controls? What can I say; it’s a sandbox crime game! If you don’t know how play those by now or how they work…. First of all, you must be a time traveller from the 70’s or that rock you’ve been living under is probably cosy as fuck! What I’ll expand on is what RDR does that say GTA or Saints Row doesn’t do. The pistol duelling mechanic can be encountered in mini games or in key moments of the story. These can be an extreme case of hit or miss, depending on your own personal reaction time. I only ever failed the final duel no less than 3 times before finally put*CENSORED TO STOP ENDING BEING SPOILED*Bastard had it coming too!
I don’t really care about graphics (since I’m the guy still using sprites in the age of green screen and SFM) but I have to give credit where it’s due here. This is probably the most stunning looking game I’ve ever seen on the 360. The world at times looks photo realistic than I was convinced it was a real world at times. Sure it isn’t as absorbing as say Minecraft but I got lost in the visual surroundings and sounds that I didn’t care… Until that “So far away” song came up and I could feel my ears bleeding violently.
I guess all that’s left to comment on is the glitches… Yes you will encounter them!
In my total playthrough I only really encountered two of them. The first one was when in a cutscene with John and Landon having a good old chat when this Mexican walks in, sits on his lap and begins to wobble. So Landon leans back, laughs while I have this mental image of an old man drinking whisky while taking a mustachio up the ass! The second one being the most amusing. Lusia is running her Mexican ass in circles while telling me how important it is we blow up these carts, her circle running gets sporadic that she nearly knocks me off the cliff I'm perched on.
I'm like "Hey, calm your tits Lillylivers do you want these asshats killed or not!!?"
In the end, Red Dead Redemption might just be one of the greatest creations from Rockstar to date. It’s a game you can truly get lost in if you ignore the story missions and just want to fuck about with what it has to offer. I’d say it has that Skyrim or Minecraft appeal in you can just waste hours doing truly nothing but it’s none the less fun all the way.
Now if we could get a sequel (or more likely a prequel since it’s set at the end of the old west) and let GTA just ride off into the sunset already then I’m totally on board for that!