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"[GAME] Red Dead Redemption"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Red Dead Redemption'.
Wed 23/06/10 at 21:33
Regular
"A man with a stick"
Posts: 5,883
Obviously your first reactions towards Red Dead Redemption are going to be ones of instantaneous comparisons to it's sibling game Grand Theft Auto. “GTA: High Planes Drifter Edition” will be the approximate conclusion you might draw, and it's certainly not without a shed of truth either. Both games quite clearly share more than a few things in common. Their huge open world sandbox environments, their stories of lone men leaving a trail of bodies and destruction as they edge closer to their goal, and game-play that involves an assortment of travelling vast distances and gunning down dozens of bad guys. Yet for all the similarities, Rockstar have created a game that is as far away in terms of style and execution as GTA as you could imagine.

Continuing what they began with GTA IV, Rockstar displays a level of writing that dispenses with it's usual bent on satirical humour (though the game by no means remains entirely po-faced) to tell a tale far more serious in it's tone than anything the developer has made so far. You take on the role of John Marston, a man who once lived his life as an outlaw roaming the wild west as he and his gang robbed banks for a living. Now spending the remainder of his life as a simple rancher to raise a family, Marston is thrust back in the world of his dark past when government agents hold his wife and son until he successfully hunts down and brings to justice members of his old posse. What transpires is a trip through the deserts of Texas and Mexico as you gradually unlock details on Marston's shady background and learn of the events that lead him to this moment in time.

Immediately you are thrust into a world ripe with historical details and an air of authenticity seldom ever seen in even Rockstar's vast repertoire. This is a developer who has never had any problems with recreating huge American metropolises, but thanks to the robotic nature of the numerous pedestrians and drivers who swarm the streets, they have always felt exactly like what they where, a huge gaming environment populated by voiceless digital pixels. Red Dead is different. You're left in no doubt that this is a world, and a world where people roam the open planes and continue with their hectic daily routines regardless of your presence. Where things happen around you, not because of you.

It's lead to a bizarre style of play I only ever find myself engaged in during the most engrossing open world RPG's. Just exploring this world is an adventure in itself. Barren - and with the exception of the occasional town popping up like an oasis - deserted, there's more interesting things going on in this game than any of the previous GTA titles. Frequently you'll find yourself interrupted by random passers by, people who have been robbed or require your assistance, and it's up to you to decide whether to help them as a good natured human being would, or stick the final boot in. The choices you make directly effect how honourable people see you. Do only good things and they'll start recognising you on the streets, shop prices will drop and new side missions will unlock. Do mainly bad things, and well, you're not going to be invited over for thanksgiving anytime soon.

Or you could just explore. A variety of ambient challenges and un-lockable outfits offers a more varied and slightly slower paced style of play, these range from gunning down the local wildlife to searching for hidden gold via scarcely eligible scraps of paper with specific environmental landmarks scribbled on them. It's easy to get lost in this world through these secondary, purely optional, side pieces. Yet despite these leanings towards RPG conventions, this is still an action game punctuated by your abilities to shoot large numbers of it's human population.

The standard mission layout is as you'd expect. Talk to a character, ride alongside them to the mission start, then shoot everything. With the game leaning more towards the rampant slaughter of everything in your path (expected considering it's a Western) Rockstar do at least seemed to have nailed down combat. Auto-aiming still exists for those with out the co-ordination to do it freely, but for anyone craving the need to manually aim can do so, able to target specific parts of the bodies of your numerous enemies and cripple them with a leg shot or shoot guns from their hands. It's a remarkably fluid system, occasionally bogged down by slow turning speeds that make switching to targets around you slightly cumbersome.

Cover doesn't – as it didn't with GTA IV – work quite so well. The problem stems from the fact that the environment Marston finds himself surrounded by is broken and uneven. Against walls it works fine, but far too often you've only rocks and small environmental obstructions to hide behind, many of which Marston seems to have a hard time nailing himself to. Often I found myself simply shooting it out in the open, which given the large numbers you often face, isn't always the best option. This is, however, a slight annoyance.

And whilst my own love of the game may make me biased towards it, I can't say it's completely flawless. Things can drag. Travelling everywhere by horse can take an age and as much as I've loved just marvelling at the absolutely stunning scenery, there are times when I just want to get to my destination. No horse riding, no stopping to help random strangers out (which I always feel compelled to do,) just get me to where I want to be. It's something you notice more of during the overly long visit to Mexico, where the game begins to drag as you find yourself yo-yoing between fighting the Mexican army and helping the revolutionaries win their little skirmish with the government, while every effort you make to complete your job there hits wall after wall.

The standard of Rockstar's writing also slips up from time to time. It's a shame because the developer gives you a cast of characters you really start caring about and enjoy being in the company of. The feisty female rancher who saves your life and takes no stick from anyone, the marshall of Armadillo desperate to clean up his town of the filth that inhabit it and the aged retired gunslinger living out the twilight of his years helping the Mexican revolutionaries. These people you want to follow through the entire game. And yet Rockstar still can't resist shoe-horning in their trademark 'comedy' characters. Silly, foolish types displaying various eccentricities and spouting out 'humorous' lines, suitable for a game such as GTA where comedy is ripe throughout, but for Red Dead, a clearly serious game with a poignant and moving story at it's core, they feel massively out of place.

More critical problems stem from the numerous bugs and glitches reported by many who have played the game. These seem to vary in intensity for each player, and whilst I've only ever encountered minor glitches here and there during the start (people getting stuck in the scenery, broken cut-scenes and so on,) I have suffered at least two crashes and the inconvenience of not being able to connect to online games for about a week. Sad to say that console gamers fears that the advent of Hard-Drives and a connection to the internet does indeed seemed to have made it more acceptable by developers to release games in such a state, only for them to be patched up later.

I certainly hope this isn't seen as some sort of damning indictment of the game on the whole. Buggy yes, flawed in some places certainly, but a more compelling action game I've yet to play. The journey through Red Dead's world is one which I have enjoyed thoroughly throughout. It's lands are beautiful and rich with detail, it's inhabitants (most of them anyway) colourful and interesting and it's combat is visceral and adrenalin fuelled. Whilst GTA may remain the developers most recognisable and best selling game, Red Dead certainly feels like the evolution of the open world sandbox template that GTA IV should have been, and it's a game I can't wait to see spawned into an ever bigger franchise.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Wed 23/06/10 at 21:33
Regular
"A man with a stick"
Posts: 5,883
Obviously your first reactions towards Red Dead Redemption are going to be ones of instantaneous comparisons to it's sibling game Grand Theft Auto. “GTA: High Planes Drifter Edition” will be the approximate conclusion you might draw, and it's certainly not without a shed of truth either. Both games quite clearly share more than a few things in common. Their huge open world sandbox environments, their stories of lone men leaving a trail of bodies and destruction as they edge closer to their goal, and game-play that involves an assortment of travelling vast distances and gunning down dozens of bad guys. Yet for all the similarities, Rockstar have created a game that is as far away in terms of style and execution as GTA as you could imagine.

Continuing what they began with GTA IV, Rockstar displays a level of writing that dispenses with it's usual bent on satirical humour (though the game by no means remains entirely po-faced) to tell a tale far more serious in it's tone than anything the developer has made so far. You take on the role of John Marston, a man who once lived his life as an outlaw roaming the wild west as he and his gang robbed banks for a living. Now spending the remainder of his life as a simple rancher to raise a family, Marston is thrust back in the world of his dark past when government agents hold his wife and son until he successfully hunts down and brings to justice members of his old posse. What transpires is a trip through the deserts of Texas and Mexico as you gradually unlock details on Marston's shady background and learn of the events that lead him to this moment in time.

Immediately you are thrust into a world ripe with historical details and an air of authenticity seldom ever seen in even Rockstar's vast repertoire. This is a developer who has never had any problems with recreating huge American metropolises, but thanks to the robotic nature of the numerous pedestrians and drivers who swarm the streets, they have always felt exactly like what they where, a huge gaming environment populated by voiceless digital pixels. Red Dead is different. You're left in no doubt that this is a world, and a world where people roam the open planes and continue with their hectic daily routines regardless of your presence. Where things happen around you, not because of you.

It's lead to a bizarre style of play I only ever find myself engaged in during the most engrossing open world RPG's. Just exploring this world is an adventure in itself. Barren - and with the exception of the occasional town popping up like an oasis - deserted, there's more interesting things going on in this game than any of the previous GTA titles. Frequently you'll find yourself interrupted by random passers by, people who have been robbed or require your assistance, and it's up to you to decide whether to help them as a good natured human being would, or stick the final boot in. The choices you make directly effect how honourable people see you. Do only good things and they'll start recognising you on the streets, shop prices will drop and new side missions will unlock. Do mainly bad things, and well, you're not going to be invited over for thanksgiving anytime soon.

Or you could just explore. A variety of ambient challenges and un-lockable outfits offers a more varied and slightly slower paced style of play, these range from gunning down the local wildlife to searching for hidden gold via scarcely eligible scraps of paper with specific environmental landmarks scribbled on them. It's easy to get lost in this world through these secondary, purely optional, side pieces. Yet despite these leanings towards RPG conventions, this is still an action game punctuated by your abilities to shoot large numbers of it's human population.

The standard mission layout is as you'd expect. Talk to a character, ride alongside them to the mission start, then shoot everything. With the game leaning more towards the rampant slaughter of everything in your path (expected considering it's a Western) Rockstar do at least seemed to have nailed down combat. Auto-aiming still exists for those with out the co-ordination to do it freely, but for anyone craving the need to manually aim can do so, able to target specific parts of the bodies of your numerous enemies and cripple them with a leg shot or shoot guns from their hands. It's a remarkably fluid system, occasionally bogged down by slow turning speeds that make switching to targets around you slightly cumbersome.

Cover doesn't – as it didn't with GTA IV – work quite so well. The problem stems from the fact that the environment Marston finds himself surrounded by is broken and uneven. Against walls it works fine, but far too often you've only rocks and small environmental obstructions to hide behind, many of which Marston seems to have a hard time nailing himself to. Often I found myself simply shooting it out in the open, which given the large numbers you often face, isn't always the best option. This is, however, a slight annoyance.

And whilst my own love of the game may make me biased towards it, I can't say it's completely flawless. Things can drag. Travelling everywhere by horse can take an age and as much as I've loved just marvelling at the absolutely stunning scenery, there are times when I just want to get to my destination. No horse riding, no stopping to help random strangers out (which I always feel compelled to do,) just get me to where I want to be. It's something you notice more of during the overly long visit to Mexico, where the game begins to drag as you find yourself yo-yoing between fighting the Mexican army and helping the revolutionaries win their little skirmish with the government, while every effort you make to complete your job there hits wall after wall.

The standard of Rockstar's writing also slips up from time to time. It's a shame because the developer gives you a cast of characters you really start caring about and enjoy being in the company of. The feisty female rancher who saves your life and takes no stick from anyone, the marshall of Armadillo desperate to clean up his town of the filth that inhabit it and the aged retired gunslinger living out the twilight of his years helping the Mexican revolutionaries. These people you want to follow through the entire game. And yet Rockstar still can't resist shoe-horning in their trademark 'comedy' characters. Silly, foolish types displaying various eccentricities and spouting out 'humorous' lines, suitable for a game such as GTA where comedy is ripe throughout, but for Red Dead, a clearly serious game with a poignant and moving story at it's core, they feel massively out of place.

More critical problems stem from the numerous bugs and glitches reported by many who have played the game. These seem to vary in intensity for each player, and whilst I've only ever encountered minor glitches here and there during the start (people getting stuck in the scenery, broken cut-scenes and so on,) I have suffered at least two crashes and the inconvenience of not being able to connect to online games for about a week. Sad to say that console gamers fears that the advent of Hard-Drives and a connection to the internet does indeed seemed to have made it more acceptable by developers to release games in such a state, only for them to be patched up later.

I certainly hope this isn't seen as some sort of damning indictment of the game on the whole. Buggy yes, flawed in some places certainly, but a more compelling action game I've yet to play. The journey through Red Dead's world is one which I have enjoyed thoroughly throughout. It's lands are beautiful and rich with detail, it's inhabitants (most of them anyway) colourful and interesting and it's combat is visceral and adrenalin fuelled. Whilst GTA may remain the developers most recognisable and best selling game, Red Dead certainly feels like the evolution of the open world sandbox template that GTA IV should have been, and it's a game I can't wait to see spawned into an ever bigger franchise.

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