After the success of Grand Theft Auto IV and Liberty City Stories, Rockstar Games shifted gears to release a spiritual sequel to Red Dead Revolver called Red Dead Redemption, an open-world Western set in 1911 during the decline of the American Frontier.
Being another Rockstar title, people originally joked that this should be called “Grand Theft Horse”, but playing the game for more than five minutes let you know that this game was nothing like its GTA relatives.
You are John Marston, a former outlaw being “called upon” by the FBI to help track down and bring back three members of your old gang (dead or alive). In actuality, the government has basically kidnapped John’s wife and son and are forcing John to take down the gang members. Marston is promised amnesty and his family returned when he completes the mission.
The job starts off poorly with Marston being shot and left for dead outside of a fort. Fortunately for John he’s rescued and brought back to health by a rancher named Bonnie MacFarlane.
The missions start off fairly pedestrian with you learning how to properly herd cattle, break in horses and hunt game for sustenance. As the game progresses John travels to various towns in America and Mexico searching for his three former friends. Along the way he meets a colorful array of characters both friends and foe.
But what would a Western game be without the staples of a classic Western movie? Dueling, bank robbing and horse racing are not just in the game, they are a vital component to John’s quest for his own personal redemption.
The story is great but for some reason I kept getting sucked in by all the mini-games. Challenges like hunting various animals and picking flowers (used for medicine) may sound boring, but they’re really fun. Hunting various bounties and searching for buried treasure are also options. Marston can play games like Five Finger Fillet, Liars Dice and Hold ‘Em Poker (in my opinion, the BEST video poker game EVER)
For those who haven’t played this game, it is a must own. Every main character and even some minor characters have interesting character arcs and your actions throughout the game impact how others treat you.
Without spoiling the plot, the ending of the game is one of the best, and certainly most emotional, games I have ever played. This is one of those games you want to continue because of the rapport you’ve built up with Marston and his companions. The perceived ending is maddeningly frustrating but the hidden "real" ending makes up for it in spades.
Since Rockstar announced that GTA V would be the last GTA game for a while it would behove them to work on another Red Dead game.