Red Dead Redemption Review: How The West Was Won

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Red Dead Redemption is Rockstar Games follow-up to 2004’s Red Dead Revolver which was set in the mid-1800s and focused much more broadly on the classic myths of the Old West. Red Dead Redemption focuses much more on a specific time in American history, the story takes place during a time that some refer to as the death of the Wild West. This was a heck of a time in history as industrialization and the expanding reach of the federal government slowly crushed the last remnants of a way of life that was as wild and raw as any.

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In Red Dead Redemption you are John Marston, a former outlaw, who after giving up the criminal lifestyle has retired to a quiet life with his family. But you know what they say about no good deed and seems they were right. Three years after Marston gave up that life a couple agents from “The Bureau” show up, take his family hostage and tell him if he doesn’t round up one of his old buddies bad things would happen to them. With no other choice, John Marston heads back to a place that he swore he would never go back too.

One of the major stars of the show is the expansive terrain that really feels alive. The game has three massive territories: New Austin, Nuevo Paraiso and West Elizabeth and they each have their own individual personality. As you move through the environment your primary means of transport is of course horseback. While traveling across vast desert, through canyons and over mountains you will encounter over 30 different species  of wildlife, everything from domestic animals like cows and chickens to deadly predators like cougars and wolves. But don’t you worry, because this is the old west and back then all these creatures were fair game. As you go from town to town, one of the easiest ways to make money is to sell meat and animal skins, but to sell it you have to get it first and that is where the fun starts. Any animal you encounter can be killed and skinned for meat and its fur. Once you kill the animal, you must go up to the animal and trigger the skinning and gutting operation manually which causes blood to splatter all over the screen because this is a messy job but someone has to do it. To demonstrate just how alive this world is, if you kill and skin several animals in the same general location and then come back through that same area later you will most of the time run into wolves and coyotes who have come to ravage the remains and can be quite dangerous if you aren’t paying attention.

In addition to the expansive wildlife environment, Red Dead Redemption utilizes a dynamic events system that is always aware of where you are and what you have done and this creates unique situations for every player. You will hear gunshots as you come across stagecoach holdups and robberies that you can either choose to engage on either side of the of or you can simply choose to ignore it and let the situation play out as it might.

To any of the fans of Rockstar’s blockbuster franchise Grand Theft Auto the combat system will feel very familiar. It would be easy for me to say that it feel like GTA in the way it plays but the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t. You have an array of weapons to choose from including pistols, rifles, and shotguns and through the use of the Dead Eye targeting system you can slow down time and then target multiple enemies or objects at once for once of those gold old fashion six shooter onslaughts we have all seen in the old Westerns. Dead Eye takes a little getting used to but once you do it won’t matter whether you are up against a group of enemies in a shootout or just one in a duel, it will allow you to dispatch them with extreme precision, heck you can either shoot the hat of of their head or the gun out of their hand if you get the urge.

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Nothing like hogtying a fool

Red Dead Redemption is by far the best Western video game that has ever been made and that is no exaggeration. This is not only one of the best Western video games of the year, this is one of the best games of the year period. The story is well written and while its a little slow moving and unfocused at times its still very well done. The voice acting for all the major characters is right up there with the best you will hear in a video game. To be honest, in Red Dead Redemption there is so much to do that there is no way I could fit it all into a review so I won’t even try. Red Dead Redemption has a solid multiplayer mode but to be honest its nothing special about it. For all you gamers that hate when games are short, take it from me I was over 10 hours in and less than 40% done. What I will say is that with all the games out right now this is one that you definitely want to play.

Red Dead Redemption is another huge victory for Rockstar and redefines the standard for what a Wild West game can and should be. Rockstar could have been tempted to simply take Grand Theft Auto and put a old west theme on it and people would have loved it but instead they choose to continue push themselves even further which makes me excited for all of the new things they have learned that they will eventually apply to the next Grand Theft Auto installment. Red Dead Redemption delivers on everything we expect from Rockstar and everything we expect from a sequel and this one is much better than the original and because of that ZoKnowsGaming gives Red Dead Redemption 9 out of 10 stars.

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Lorenzo Winfrey

Editor-In-Chief at ZoKnowsGaming
I am the Co-Ceo of DLT Digital Media. We are a company that is focused on developing new and innovative web properties in addition to developing WordPress based web sites for others. But before I was all that, I was a gamer.