Title: Red Dead Redemption 2
Available on: Xbox One, PS4
Developer: Rockstar Games, Rockstar Studios
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Genre: Action/Adventure, Western
Official Site: Red Dead Redemption 2
Release Date: October 26th, 2018
Where to Buy: Retail, Xbox Live, PSN
Over the past week, Red Dead Redemption 2 has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from both gamers and critics alike. I’m here to tell you that this praise is well deserved. All in all, this is a strong Game of the Year contender (maybe even a Game of the Generation candidate as well).
In RDR2 you play as Arthur Morgan, an enforcer for the Dutch Van Der Linde Gang. On the run from the authorities, rival gangs, and an evolving society, Arthur must do what he can to keep his friends safe.
The story of RDR2 is absolutely exceptional, which was shocking to see due to its prequel premise. Prequels rarely work out in my opinion since we already know where the overall story ends. With this game set 12 years before the original Red Dead Redemption, it could’ve delivered a very basic story showing how John Marston got out of the outlaw life. However, RDR2 decided to focus on newcomer Arthur Morgan and other members of the Dutch Van Der Linde Gang.
Mostly everyone I know loved the protagonist of the first RDR, John Marston. This includes yours truly. I even remember attempting to redo the infamous shootout that led to his death in the original, determined that there was an alternate ending to uncover. That being said, I would argue that Arthur Morgan is actually a better protagonist than Marston. His sarcastic personality and hardened ties to the outlaw lifestyle make him the perfect character to live out the end of the Wild West through.
Along with Morgan, Dutch’s gang is filled with fleshed out characters with their own unique personalities and backstories. We even see another side of characters we met in Red Dead Redemption. Dutch was a ruthless killer with no redeemable traits in the first game. Here, we see why people once believed in him as a leader. John was a family man who will do anything to get back to them. In RDR2, John is actually fairly distant from his family. He’s younger and takes unnecessary risks to help out the gang. Bill Williamson is…well he’s pretty much the same guy.
With its amazing action sequences, stellar voice acting (over half a million lines of dialogue), and well-written narrative, Red Dead Redemption 2 reminds me of the Uncharted series. Like the critically acclaimed Naughty Dog franchise, RDR2 gives me a feeling that I’m not just playing a game but I’m apart of a cinematic experience. Yes, it has your typical Rockstar format with some hilarious side missions but its cinematic tone is what sets this story apart from past Rockstar titles.
Visually, this is one of the most breathtaking games I’ve played in quite some time. The amount of detail and care that Rockstar Games put into RDR2 is simply extraordinary. Everything from characters models to the rich wildlife to even the blades of grass in an open field is carefully constructed and the game prospers from it. Even Arthur himself is subject to this. If you pick up bloody corpses or roll around in the mud, Arthur’s appearance will change to accommodate it.
You’re immediately hooked in from the opening credits with its gorgeous snowy mountain landscape. You can honestly spend hours on end trekking the map without losing any sense of immersion.
Although its stellar narrative and graphics are what you notice first, it isn’t this game’s greatest strength. That lies with its gameplay.
Simply put, this game is just a joy to play. Whether you want to be a straight up outlaw and rob citizens, hunt for big-time game, or even try your hand at some poker, there are loads of side objectives to accomplish in RDR2.
Both companion and enemy AI are both greatly improved compared to past Rockstar titles. While in a gunfight, don’t stay perched behind cover for too long because enemies will begin to flank you. Like its competition for Game of the Year, God of War, RDR2 features some pretty impressive companion AI. They aren’t a hindrance to you in combat and at times can save you from a frustrating death.
Eating, sleeping, and the bond with your horse is vastly important to your success. Now, RDR2 isn’t a traditional survival game. You don’t have to eat every few minutes. However, it would be wise to fill up your health and stamina core once in a while. What you do affects Arthur as well. You eat too much. Arthur gains weight. You rob innocent people, you lose honor. Don’t take a bath or come into contact with water, Arthur begins to reek and citizens react to him. It’s an efficient system that was introduced in Rockstar titles with GTA: San Andreas and is just about perfected here.
Mechanics for shooting and fighting hand-to-hand have been overhauled, making every fight more difficult in the process. In Red Dead Redemption, it was far too easy to mow down waves of enemies due to the time-slowing Dead Eye system. Here, the Dead Eye mechanic has been nerfed to a degree. To increase your time in Dead Eye, you must eat, drink, or smoke certain items (just how you would fill your core health and stamina).
I’ve been praising Red Dead Redemption 2 a lot in this review thus far (and for good reason) but there are a few minor issues. The controls can be a bit clunky and unresponsive. Many times I would accidentally pull a gun out on random people in an attempt to just speak to them. What should have been a simple conversation instead ended with me running from bounty hunters with a $50 price on my head.
Also, even though the story is exceptional and brings everything you’ve done for the past 50+ hours together nicely, it really slows down after Chapter Four. I understand why the game does this but it just took a little too long to get back on its feet.
Verdict: Red Dead Redemption 2 is a must have purchase! With jaw-dropping visuals, fun gameplay, and an expertly written cinematic story, Rockstar has crafted an amazing game worthy of immense praise. The detailing in this game is above anything else I’ve ever played and that is what sets RDR2 apart from other open-world genre titles. No game is perfect but Red Dead Redemption 2 is about as close as you could get. Although it has some minor problems, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a brilliant game that I hope continues to get praise long after the release of its highly anticipated Red Dead Online mode later this month.
- Exceptional Story
- Fleshed out characters with stellar voice acting
- Arthur Morgan
- Loads of content to keep you interested for weeks, maybe even months
- Amazing visuals
- Improvements to the dead eye, shooting, and hand-to-hand systems
- The amount of customization Rockstar put into everything from Arthur to horse care
- Controls can be a bit clunky at times
- The story takes a bit too long to pick back up after Chapter Four