Rockstar Games, famous creators of the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto series, have delivered another masterpiece with their sequel to Red Dead Redemption.
In Red Dead Redemption 2 you play through the life story of Arthur Morgan, the antecedent and role model of the game’s main protagonist: John Marston. For those familiar with the original, this game provides a wonderful insight into what a young Marston was like, and how he ended up as the man we know him to be in Red Dead Redemption.
Set in 1899, a full 12 years before the 1911 timeline of Red Dead Redemption, but in the same Wild West part of Southern & Midwest America, you get to follow the Dutch Van der Linde gang as they make their way across the land as outlaws; desperate to acquire enough riches to finally retire after years on the run.
Red Dead Redemption 2 leaves no plot holes, allows you to experience all the Wild West could possibly offer, and takes no prisoners. The single player storyline offers context to the lore of the original, newfound experience as part of a gang (whereas you are more of a lone ranger in the prequel), and much-needed closure when you lose some of your friends and defeat all of your enemies. From start to finish the dialogue is both hilarious and gripping within the gang and wider world in general. Additionally, the amount of customization available – whether it be guns, horses, or appearance – combined with the fact that you can complete the game with different endings based on your honor level (equivalent to good or bad karma) means that this story is well worth two playthroughs.
Inherently, the one criticism of the gameplay is that there is a lot of shooting and a lot of horseback riding and not much else, but if you don’t already expect that from a Wild West shooter, then perhaps you don’t know what those words mean! Nevertheless, the combination of fist fighting, hunting and robbing activities thrown in manage to keep things fresh at all times and provide and overall more varied experience than any first-person shooter could manage. Furthermore, from my personal experience, one can spend hours on end simply fishing and hunting for legendary game – so it’s safe to say, this game is not exactly vegan friendly.
When you play this game, you had better make some popcorn because each cutscene is like a movie. The beauty of the landscape, full of hyper-realistic mountains, rivers, plains and ridden with wildlife, is truly a virtual piece of art. When strictly comparing this game to the Grand Theft Auto series, that is one thing the modern crime classic cannot come close to; this game unequivocally trumps it aesthetically. Also, you get to play your own part in making the game more visually pleasing and unique to your own style through character, horse, and camp customization.
Audio & Music
Like the visuals, the dialogue in this game is fantastic, whether it be from a main character in the gang, an angry lawman, or a simple passerby on his wagon bemoaning your reckless riding! Conversely, the music can get a bit old and repeated. I still enjoy it as it seems to be in-line with the Wild West era, it is maybe not as enjoyable as hearing more modern music in other games. Interestingly the music can often provide hints pertaining to incoming danger, possibly from a rival gang or a feral animal – so listen carefully!
A verifiable masterpiece, this game absolutely immerses you and leaves you wanting more. The extent to which the story captures you, such that you grieve for each comrade’s death, and celebrate the rise of the gang makes the approximately 50 hours of gameplay fly by. As I will elude to, it is a pity that Rockstar Games seems reluctant to follow up with DLCs and adequate online events to keep early adopters engaged in what was in my opinion the best game of 2019.
Red Dead Online: Not Quite As Good
For all the accomplishments of Single Player, Rockstar Games seem unwilling to offer the same amount of support for Red Dead Online as they do for GTA V.
Unfortunately, this game mode leaves something to be desired. Having to constantly traverse back and forth across the map on horseback – whilst not such an issue in single player due to dialogue, cut scenes, and action moments – gets real old real fast! On top of this, unless you have a few friends to play with it takes far too long to make any significant level of progress in terms of money & gold, leading one to believe that the online mode suffers from an all too common “pay to win” model. Not to mention the fact that you are likely to get bullied by other players in a posse if you are not a part of one yourself! However, above all this, there is simply not enough to do online. Once you have done a few bounties, brewed some moonshine (providing you have managed to amass the gold required to do so) and completed the very limited number of missions available, Red Dead Online does not offer enough of a different experience to the story and in my opinion, goes stale.