Graphics:
9.1
Gameplay:
9.5
Sound:
9.4
Control:
9.0
Replay Value:
9.5
Online Gameplay:
9.2
Overall Rating:
9.3
Publisher:
Take-Two Interactive
Developer:
Rockstar Games
Number Of Players:
1 (1-16 Online)
Genre:
Action/Adventure


When analyzing a game that has been in development for 5 years and is rumored to have cost Rockstar San Diego around $100 million to produce, it’s difficult to know where to begin. I suppose we should realize that a large amount of hype and anticipation has been building for quite some time now, and if the game failed to impress, it likely would’ve been one of the biggest bombs of the generation. In truth, it was a tenuous situation for the developer and publisher; either deliver the greatest Western-themed video game in history, or take a flak bath from annoyed and disappointed gamers the world over. Thankfully, there’s no need to let the oaths and hostilities fly; in fact, quite the opposite: there’s little doubt that Red Dead Redemption will be the game by which all future Westerns will be judged in the interactive entertainment world, and although it has a few small problems, fans of Grand Theft Auto IV and Clint Eastwood films will be happy…blissfully happy.

The graphics have been a point of some concern for PlayStation 3 owners, primarily because the game doesn’t natively render in high-definition resolution, but the Xbox 360 version can upscale to 720p. Now, although I couldn’t see the two versions side by side, I did see both in motion; there’s very little difference and unless you’re incredibly anal and know exactly what to look for, you likely won’t notice. In general, Rockstar paid very close attention to every last ounce of detail and as a result, this is a Western in every sense of the word. The character design is excellent and the effects are both semi-realistic and very effective. What is most impressive is the overall scope of the production: when you walk outside, you see what one should see; various townspeople going about their business, a hawk winging high above, the gorgeous big sky that is so common out west, and acre upon acre of intricately depicted cacti, tumbleweeds, trees, and wildlife. There’s some anti-aliasing going on but besides that, it really is a satisfying, even breathtaking experience. The animations are slick, too, so mount up cowboy…the Old West has never been so immersive and convincing.

The sound shines thanks to an outstanding cast of professional voice acting, and expert music composition by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson concerning the appropriate soundtrack. The latter can be intimidating or mystically chilling, depending on the situation, and it never intrudes; only enhances. At first, I wasn’t the biggest fan of John Marsten’s voice – handled by Rob Wiethoff – but after a while, I realized it was damn near perfect. He has an offhand yet still gruff tone and it really works. The surrounding cast is fantastic as well (special nod goes to Anthony De Longis as the Marshal) and much like the graphics, the sound works to provide us with a truly believable setting. It’s surprisingly difficult to get great visuals, music, voiceovers and effects to blend together so well, but Rockstar has definitely pulled it off. The ambient effects, like the howl of a coyote, the surrounding conversation of citizens, and the crystal clear crack of a rifle round out a superb sound presentation. So not only does it look almost exactly as you would hope, it sounds unbelievable, too. …tough to find negatives when faced with this.

They’ve often promoted the wide open world and inherent freedom involved in Red Dead Redemption , and as soon as you complete your first few missions, you’ll understand why. Although I’ve heard that Rockstar doesn’t like their new title to be called “ Grand Theft Auto in the Old West,” that’s really exactly what it is, with a few extra layers of polish and some unique gameplay tweaks and features that serves to streamline the entire experience. It’s a third-person shooter that controls extremely well; you move as you might expect, jump with the Square button, run faster with the X button, aim with L2 and fire with R2, bring up a quick radial menu to change weapons (and select your fists or lasso) with the L1 button, and toggle the very necessary Dead Eye system by clicking the R3 button. You can also use a big ol’ map to assist in your exploring, sift through your inventory and keep an eye on your Journal, and do everything from tame wild horses, herd cattle, hogtie bad guys, duel, and pick off moving targets while flying down the dusty road in a stagecoach.

You can take cover behind a solid object (like a rock) simply by pressing the R1 button, and the system will be familiar to anyone who is used to playing third-person shooters like GTAIV and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves . It works just as it should, and although I normally despise auto-aim of any kind, I’m actually going to recommend using it, here. Thing is, all you have as an aiming reticle is a little white dot and many times, your foes are a good distance away and always on the move. The Dead Eye option works very well but it takes a while to refill so you can’t always rely on it. And besides, this is a very subtle auto-centering mechanic; when you first aim your weapon, the dot will be centered over the closest opponent, provided he’s visible. But it’s not a “sticky lock-on;” i.e., you can move the aiming position easily with the left analog to target an arm, leg or head. And by the way, nailing an enemy in the arm or leg will have exactly the result you would expect.

The Dead Eye system slows time to a crawl and allows you to target multiple targets with whatever weapon you have equipped. It’s a great system and is absolutely crucial if you wish to survive; this is because you can really only withstand about four hits when out in the open, and that’s it. This adds a great flavor of realism to the game (even though it contrasts sharply with the very unrealistic Dead Eye) and amplifies the heavy dose of authenticity offered by the overall presentation. I have almost no problem at all with the control you have over your main character, but I have a small issue with how you control your horse: the physics seem about right, in that a horse at top speed takes a while to turn, but I’m not the biggest fan of how you select your speed. By pressing the X button repeatedly, you can spur your horse to go faster and faster until the animal’s stamina starts to drain. Once completely drained, he’ll buck you right off, so don’t let that happen. This is fine, but you have to hold the X button down to keep a certain pace and this tends to conflict with the multiple presses to go faster.

I also found fighting while astride a horse to be a little awkward but I’m positive that’s more of a personal thing because there really isn’t anything mechanically wrong. Well, at least it’s not blatant. Now, the other problem I had came at the start during the missions where you’re still learning things: the tutorials pop up in the upper left-hand corner but it was often difficult for me to read it, process it, and immediately implement the directions into the gameplay. Again, a small thing but it should be mentioned. Beyond that…drawbacks and negatives are few and far between. Initially, you think Rockstar made a design mistake in creating such a massive world while forgetting that our fastest mode of transportation is the horse. But they clearly recognized that; you can take stagecoaches from town to town for a small fee and when out in the middle of nowhere, you can simply pitch a basic campsite, take a rest, save, and automatically travel to towns and settlements. Furthermore, because you can purchase or rent rooms and property across the map, you don’t ever have to be too far from your next mission.

But here is where we come to the meat and potatoes of the game; the two best reasons to own, play, and adore. The first is the aforementioned presentation. It’s just so…so… Western . It’s difficult to describe it any other way, but let’s just say that everything from the scattered ranches and homesteads to what I assume are true-to-life towns to how we view the entire world, is absolutely, positively, and without a shadow of a doubt, phenomenal. As is typically the case with things like this, it’s the little, seemingly minute details that elevate everything to the nth degree. If you’re out at night and you stray off the road, don’t be surprised to be under attack by coyotes; they’ll even get beneath your horse and take it down. And you know, they act like coyotes. They won’t attack stagecoaches and stay away from the road, and if you shoot a few, the rest will likely take off. Then, when I’m wandering around looking for buried treasure, the instant I realized I was in the wrong spot (“hey, there’s no cacti here”), I said to myself, “damn, what am I doing here?” Two seconds later, Marsten said, “what am I doing out here?” …creepy, Rockstar. Creepy.

But oh so very cool. And the other reason why this is a can’t-miss gem? Why, the sheer amount of stuff to do, of course! You can play poker, try your hand at horseshoes, have the guts to give Five-Finger Fillet a go, help out Strangers and citizens (Strangers will give you side missions and are denoted with a “?”), go on patrol for a night, take on a variety of ranch-hand-type jobs, accept Bounties, and purchase everything from weapons and ammo to a broad range of items and even new horses. In this way, it’s set up almost exactly like GTAIV; sorry Rockstar, but it’s the truth…and it’s hardly a bad thing. There are treasure maps, Survivalist Challenges (eg, find 6 of this particular flower), and a host of opportunities to increase (or decrease) your Fame and Honor. If you’re trigger-happy and you start shooting up saloons, or you don’t feel like going to the extra effort to take outlaws alive, you’ll soon get a reputation. And you know, everyone will start to react to you very differently, citizens, authorities, and outlaws included. The best way to take an opponent alive is to shoot him in the leg, switch to your lasso, reel him in, and hogtie his sorry ass. Sure, it’s tougher than just shooting him in the head, but do you want that Honor, or not?

I really believe this is a beautiful blend of GTAIV and Assassin’s Creed II . The latter really excelled due to the ambiance and dynamic style; the city folk and authorities would react to you exactly as you would expect, which is included in RDR. There’s also a semblance of stealth and patience; certainly more prominent in ACII than GTAIV. The game’s structure is GTAIV; no doubt about it, but they really do go above and beyond thanks to the Dead Eye system that never gets boring, a technical picture that is most pleasant to the ear, realism and authenticity we require (and love), top-notch control, almost endless freedom, and yes, even a pretty damn good storyline. I think they could’ve refined the horse control just a bit, some of the world really seems extra empty (even though I know that time period was “wild” for a reason), and a few of the missions seemed rather repetitive (“oh crap, I’m herding again ?), but such complaints are minor and indeed, they didn’t really hinder my enjoyment. Should I repeat that I went into this really hating Western movies?

So what does the above score say taking that into consideration? Even the online multiplayer is great; the various host of modes makes everything feel fresh, you really have to take your time and be precise, and there were only a few technical hang-ups during my matches. Never did find a Rockstar employee, though… Anyway, Red Dead Redemption is a triumph and although not entirely devoid of an assortment of little flaws and annoyances, it’s still one of the best of the generation. Saddle up and ride!

Personal note: We need to go back to when women wore hats. We just do. It’s such a becoming and classy look, IMO…the only place you ever see that anymore is at the Kentucky Derby, and that has gotten way too gaudy. Pretty hats on pretty ladies…the late 19th century had it right, damnit.

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Victor321
Victor321
11 years ago

Lol love the last little bit at the end Ben! Awesome review, summed everything I needed to know, will be getting this ASAP!

And I never got into westerns myself until now, and no I'm not joking 😉

Beamboom
Beamboom
11 years ago

Me neither, never was a western guy. But this has "MUST-BUY" written all over it.

jonny_wonny
jonny_wonny
11 years ago

I've never really been a western guy either, but after playing this game, and also Call of Juarez, I don't know, I just really like the feeling of them. I may check out a few good western movies if they also have created a similar kind of feeling.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

Silly R*, you got the aim and shoot buttons wrong.

I'll let it slide though because apparently I can purchase property. And I LOVE purchasing property in games.

Beamboom
Beamboom
11 years ago

Same here, I'll even admit before thee that I'd love to be able to decorate the properties too. Usually that's done by the game engine. I totally loved it when I got that big mansion in gta:vc.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Prefer L1 to aim and R1 to shoot? Me too.

Hezzron
Hezzron
11 years ago

Borderlands did the same with its aim and shoot buttons. It messed me up for a bit at the start, but then I got used to it. No biggie.

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

I think you can change them in Borderlands. Bioshock one was the same but you couldn't change them. But they gave the option in 2.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

PS3 triggers just aren't comfy enough for constant use like that. I prefer them for swapping weapons or throwing nades.

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

They're not as accessible either. Your fingers naturally lay over the L1 and R1. Opposite of the 360.

This game was designed specifically for the 360. Seems the PS3 version was just an after thought. Even Capcom switched the Aim and Fire buttons in RE5 giving us what we prefer.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I agree with the button layout complaint, but it really doesn't matter here. It's not a FPS; you're not mashing away at the button nor are you holding it down a lot.

Really, it's not a deal in RDR.

Frenchy17
Frenchy17
11 years ago

If you get those clip on "real triggers" it really helps in my opinion for this layout.

Silent_J
Silent_J
11 years ago

Agreed Frenchy,I have the triggers too.

I_defenestrate
I_defenestrate
11 years ago

I have to be honest, shooting controls are usually the first thing I notice in a game. I didn't notice it in RDR until I read these comments on it.

ace_boon_coon
ace_boon_coon
11 years ago

i hate using the r1 and L1 buttons. i love the triggers

jonny_wonny
jonny_wonny
11 years ago

I think it's just going to take time to get used to it. I have been getting confused by it quite a bit though.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Only a 9.3?? I KNEW this game would suck! In all seriousness, I can't wait to play it. Got it brand new for 35.00, just have to wait till the weekend. Saddle up!

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

You probably didn't get a R* employee because they are all playing the 360 version. =(

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
11 years ago

From where? 35 really?

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Toys R Us.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Toys R Us is offering a $25.00 gift card with purchase, so as I figure it, instead of $59.99, I got it for $34.99. The offer is all week long, I suggest all take advantage that can.

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
11 years ago

Wow thanks jawknee. My brother wants it as well. Oh well I bought mine for 60. Still worth it though.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

That's a good price but then you can't be apart of the golden gun posse. Make your choice wisely partner.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Decisions, decisions.

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Didn't that offer expire when the game released? i thought that was just a preorder perk.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

You're right Jawknee it's over and done. Sometimes they let it slip an extra day or two (like they did with Monster Hunter Tri), but not this time.

sawao_yamanaka
sawao_yamanaka
11 years ago

If it is a preorder perk my brother isn't so lucky :P. Oh well more game time for me.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

At this point in time you're better off going for the TRU deal.

IonHawk
IonHawk
11 years ago

I dunno, I had preordered from amazon (20$ out of pocket plus 20$ for a future purchase plus golden guns) was tough to resist. But then amazon sent me a code for the golden guns and there was another code for the guns inside the game – so maybe they're including the gun codes in the initial shipment of the games or something?

Silent_J
Silent_J
11 years ago

I got mines from …wait for it..Gamestop.I know I know I suckered in but I traded in two games that I didnt pay for and got $40.00 off ,so good deal for me.

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
11 years ago

Silent, what two games did you trade in?

Silent_J
Silent_J
11 years ago

Darksiders and batman AA

Silent_J
Silent_J
11 years ago

They had a huge list of selected games that can be traded in.


Last edited by Silent_J on 5/21/2010 9:52:51 AM

Aerifale
Aerifale
11 years ago

Comes out tommorrow in the UK. So excited!! I havn't shut up about it all week to the point of annoying my friends but I can't wait! Red Dead here I come!!

piratedrunk
piratedrunk
11 years ago

I honestly wasn't all that interested in this game but after reading this I feel like I am missing out. Ben you are seriously messing with my "I don't buy games based on reviews" motto. This makes two.

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Nice. Some one guess it correctly.

"aim with L2 and fire with R2" blagh, Wonder if you can change it? I don't like this set up.

"Personal note: We need to go back to when women wore hats. We just do. It’s such a becoming and classy look, IMO…the only place you ever see that anymore is at the Kentucky Derby, and that has gotten way too gaudy. Pretty hats on pretty ladies…the late 19th century had it right, damnit."

Couldn't agree more.

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

I read that you can't and that bugs me too. GTAIV was the same. I prefer the triggers for swapping weapons and R1 to shoot stuff up.

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Same. My favorite set ups are in Bioshock 2(minus Triangle for Jump) and Uncharted 2.

aaronisbla
aaronisbla
11 years ago

it sucks you cant change it but you really get use to it since like ben noted, its not an fps.

Wage SLAVES
Wage SLAVES
11 years ago

I find the conservative (absolutely no political relation added) look of women in those times were sooo attractive! They had a more elegant and somehow sexier appeal.

Now I can't watch the Super-bowl without seeing tit. Lol…

Hezzron
Hezzron
11 years ago

I love this game too.

Ok, the pretty ladies can wear hats…..but that's it!

IonHawk
IonHawk
11 years ago

LOL, reminds me of that song… "you can leave your hat on" 😀

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Sounds fantastical, can't wait to get my copy. I don't mind the graphical handicap that much, though I would appreciate it if R* could have made part of that $100M go to a decent development procedure for PS3. Which is why I call bogus on your 9.5 for graphics (nothing personal) but that can't be right in comparison to exclusive titles. Mine better arrive this week or I'll be tempted to start another game and I don't wanna be bogged down.

We also need to go back to when Men wore hats. I stick out a bit in my hats 🙂


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 5/19/2010 10:11:02 PM

Jawknee
Jawknee
11 years ago

Haven't you heard, it has better graphics then God of War III.

/sarc

Mavfan321
Mavfan321
11 years ago

Yeah to the guy who said the graphics were better than GOW 3, Ray Charles wouldn't have made that mistake. However in the end I don't mind so much about the graphics I can't wait to get my copy this Monday and be absorbed for quite a while.


Last edited by Mavfan321 on 5/19/2010 10:35:13 PM

tes37
tes37
11 years ago

I think he scored the graphics fair. Mainly because it looks authentic and feels like a western. Rockstar did an excellent job all the way around with RDR.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I won't know bout the graphics for sure until I get it, but since GTAIV came out before Uncharted 2 and Uncharted 2 raised the bar so high I must be skeptical.

Mavfan321
Mavfan321
11 years ago

I agree that Uncharted 2 was a bar raiser with GOW 3 and MGS4 being other examples of the right way to make a game look. However I think it's kind of a moot point because the only stuff out there doing better than those games is high end p.c. run stuff so can't expect all developers to utilize all of PS3's best features, if only that damn 360 was out of the picture.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
11 years ago

the graphical appeal is good, not great. to me its the games only weak point. sometimes when watching a cutscene it looks cell shaded and watered down.

Out side the cut scenes little things bug me like bushes blurring and things rendering but not a lot to make you notice, i just happened to be looking!

Personally for me comparing to other games out there, I'd give the graphics a solid 9. Sometimes they shine, others there just good, not great.

For a 9 in graphics and that being its only weak point to me, its saying a lot for the game in whole!


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 5/20/2010 9:46:49 AM

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

I'm a little disappointed there's only four lines about the multiplayer aspect. A bit of a run down on the different modes would have been cool.

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