Red Dead Redemption 2 review05/11/2018
I thought for sure that there would never be a game that could have the ability to take Grand Theft Auto 5 down. I thought that the amazing experiences that I had playing Spider-Man and God of War cemented either of those games as this year’s Game of the Year. I thought that I would never enjoy a game with fishing! Ladies and Gentlemen, I thought wrong. There is a new Sherriff in town, and he was just gunned down by the rootinest tootinest gang of gunslingers in the west! Arthur Morgan is here to stay and Red Dead Redemption 2 has arrived to blow all the competition out of the water.
Like many people, I have been impatiently patiently waiting for the follow-up to the original Red Dead Redemption. My travels in the rapidly growing western civilization as John Marston prove to be some of my fondest memories on my PlayStation 3. After putting in close to 150 hours though, I had done everything I could do. The problem was that many people didn’t know what direction Rockstar could go in with the next game. Fast forward years later and out of nowhere, Rockstar posts a picture on Twitter of the R* logo with a red backdrop. I’ll never forget my friends and I all collectively lost our minds. Admittedly when the game was officially announced as a prequel, I was hesitant. I have always felt that prequels are not as good as the original and let’s face it, Red Dead 2 had some ginormous shoes to try to fill. Now that the game has been released to the masses, the $725 Million opening weekend shows that the game will be just fine!
I am not going to sugar-coat that the beginning of the game is very slow. I am not a fan of snow levels in any game. So for the game to starts you off in the middle of a blizzard, all I could do was cringe. This didn’t feel like the best way to start off a game about cowboys in the wild west. Where are my saloons and epic stand-offs on the side of a mountain?! Even after you find yourself out of the mountains, the game feels slow. It took me about 3 hours before I felt I was in a true open world. When it does open up though, hold on to your butts because the world will be presented to you on an open platter. You will have the obligatory starting missions that will show you how to do all the different activities in the game such as hunting and fishing as well as robbing trains and all the other fun stuff in-between.
This is when you will truly learn about the cares of yourself and your horse. The game has what they call “Cores” which are your meters for Health, Stamina and Dead Eye. For people new to the series, Dead Eye is an ability in which you can slow down the world and lock on and shoot many enemies real fast. In a way, a think of this like Bullet Time from The Matrix. You will find the ability to be extremely useful when you are surrounded by bad guys. You have to be mindful of Arthurs well-being. Being well-rested and taking time to eat, bathe as well as many basic human needs are important to keep Arthur at his peak performance. The relationship you have with your horse is very important as well. It is crucial to take care of your horse as you would yourself. Feed your horse, giving it pets as well as brushing it will make your bond grow which ultimately will boost its stats. I found that after playing the game for a while, I started having a routine if I was deep in the wilderness and it started to get dark out. I would do all the cares for my horse, then clean my guns so that they were in tip-top condition, eat and then get a good nights sleep. If you make a routine of it, then you should never have any issues later in the game.
Let’s talk about the world itself. I want there to be absolutely no confusion when I say that Red Dead Redemption 2 has the best graphics I have ever seen in a video game. The first time I got the sense of that is after you come off the mountain and you set your base up on a cliff overlooking miles and miles of open fields. The mountains off in the distance will show the clouds blocking the sun in all its glory. I’ll be damned if you don’t feel like you are looking at a photo. What is mind-boggling to me is that there is zone loading! The only time you will see loading is in starting the game, fast travel or death. The most impressive part of the graphics is in the draw distance. You can play many modern games and have the ability to go to a high spot and see far in the distance. The difference with Red Dead is that you will not notice the terrain change as you move away from it. What is impressive is that despite the amazing visuals that surround you, you will never feel like you are distracted from what you are supposed to be doing in the game. Nature will continue to flourish even when you are not around. The wildlife will do their own thing. The world is full of life and it simply feels ALIVE at any given point. This will push you to want to explore every nook and cranny the game has to offer.
The character interaction is interesting as it can be different for multiple people. Depending on how you play as Arthur, people will treat you differently. If you play as a good guy, are well groomed and have clean clothes, people generally treat you with respect. If you play as the worst scum on the planet, are wearing bloody/muddy clothing, then generally people will not be so nice to you. In general, most of the story missions will be picked up in camp as you interact with the other members of Dutchâ’s gang. The gange is not generally people that are all bad, so much as people that want to live freely. There are some bad apples for sure though. The gang acts as a large extended dysfunctional family with their own stories and motivations for why they are in the gang. The camp itself also serves as your base of operations. You can upgrade the camp by giving money to the gang. With the pooled money, you are able to pay to upgrade the living conditions of the gang as well. This ultimately will give you perks, and the ability to craft new gear for Arthur. Players of the original Red Red Redemption will be in for a real treat when they see many familiar faces that you once were on the hunt for, are now your comrades that you interact with around the camp. Hanging out with gang members leads to getting rich background stories or, even better, leads to debauchery. There is no doubt in my mind that the game has THE BEST drunk scene I’ve ever seen in a game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 not only has met the expectations that I had in a follow up to one of the best games made for the previous generation but FAR exceeded it. It makes every one of the 8 years we have been waiting worth it. Rockstar continuously shows the world why they are one of the best developers on the planet.