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There’s something very exhilarating at being able to ride a horse on some of gaming’s most breathtaking landscapes, from the dangerous and snowy Tall Trees to the arid Mexican plains. Add the visuals to a compelling storyline and one of the best soundtracks ever composed for a videogame, and the result is Red Dead Redemption, released across platforms in 2010 by Rockstar Games.
RDR sets the bar very high for open-world games, recreating 1911’s American Wild West with impressive fidelity. The game is nothing like GTA IV, although it has similarities in its core. Players are given so many things to do, and Rockstar always finds ways to keep everything interesting. You can play poker, hunt animals, pick flowers, help strangers, duel mano-a-mano – while completing endless challenges and constantly being rewarded. The game is definitely adult-oriented, given its thematic elements of redemption/vengeance, a very explicit sex scene and hints of necrophilia (!).
On the campaign, we are introduced to John Marston, a former outlaw who is trying to stay away from his past. John is married to Abigail, and they have a little boy called Jack. They are kidnapped by the government, which forces John to hunt down and kill his ex-gang members, led by ultimate psycho baddie Dutch. Twisted as this “imposed request” may sound, John ends up complying: by turning the page, he will be able to get back to his family and really start a new life. On his journey, John meets several unique characters, like the fraudulent Mr. West Dickens and the native Nastas, not to mention the inspirational Bonnie, who saved John after he was left to die.
The soundtrack (mostly composed by Bill Elm and Woody Jackson) has been consistently praised, and it really stands out as one of the best elements in the game. When John first crosses the Mexican border, “Far Away” by Jose González starts playing. It’s an absolutely stunning and meaningful moment, and one that many players will never forget.
TECHNICALITIES – A cover-based shooter by nature, Red Dead Redemption has tight controls and an auto-aim feature that makes the game relatively easy to learn. The weapons range from pistols to shotguns and carbines, but are all balanced. If you’re going bear hunting on Bearclaw Camp, make sure to carry a powerful Rifle. The voice acting is impressive, and there’s so much dialogue in the game, but still we never hear the same line twice. The Spanish is beautifully spoken, which enhances the notion of being in Mexico. The textures look great, and the weather changes are very realistic. There are notoriously funny glitches, like horses floating, but nothing that prevents the game from achieving masterpiece status. The multiplayer experience is even more massive than the campaign. Maybe you’d like to join a posse and eliminate some gangs, play a poker game at Armadillo or simply go against other free roam individuals: the possibilities are endless, and they are all tremendously fun. Also worth mentioning is the Undead Nightmare DLC, in which John fights hordes of zombies. In this pack, the unicorn and the Four Horses of the Apocalypse can be tamed and the rare Chupacabra can be killed. How cool can it get?!
- Jack: I'll be rich one day. Then you'll see.
- John: I sure hope so. Then you can look after us when we get old.
- Jack: What do you mean, 'get old' ? You are old.
- John: We ain't old, Uncle is old.
- Jack: Well, he should be in a museum.
- John: Yeah, preserved in Whiskey for the next thousand years.