Red Dead Redemption is a game that introduces the old west in a way that appeals to modern audiences. In the open world of New Austin, it seems like anything can happen. Thrown into the saddle with John Marston, a former outlaw, players are in for one heck of a ride.
Today's generation of console gamers haven't gotten much of a taste of the Old West. Head-to-head shootouts, bronco busting, bar fighting – it's all lacking. At least, that was the case before Red Dead Redemption. This game brings all of the aforementioned fun, plus a lot more. Along with the adventures of the Old West comes a captivating story and a host of western characters that will keep you laughing, slapping your forehead, and shaking your fist.
John Marston is a man that has been wronged. The government knows about his law-breaking past, and is using it against him. Marston is forced to break from his newly-found righteous path and go back to his old killing ways in order to do Uncle Sam's bidding. As Martson, players journey their way through a series of missions in different areas of New Austin (the fictional-but-realistic setting of Red Dead Redemption) that ultimately lead to a confrontation with Marston's old gang members. One cannot help but to be reminded of Rockstar Games's popular Grand Theft Auto series. This more modern game contains similar character-based missions. Red Dead Redemption keeps it fresh, however, bringing adventures that could only be found in the Old West. From cattle driving to train hopping, there is no shortage of originality in RDR. Though players may grow tired of doing mission after mission, as I did after a while, there are many other elements other than RDR's story that will keep players busy.
Have you ever hunted wolves? How about cougars? Bears? Red Dead Redemption offers hunting challenges that send players all over New Austin searching for different types of game. These creatures' behavior range from laughable (fleeing, prancing deer) to terrifying (quick, vicious cougars). The fun doesn't stop there, however. RDR also challenges players to test their gun-slinging skills with accuracy tasks. Try to shoot birds from the sky. Take a chance at trying to shoot the hat off of your neighbor's head (miss and you will almost certainly kill them). There are also admittedly less-exciting challenges. Among these are searching for different plants around the landscape of New Austin and searching for hidden treasure using clues found on scraps of paper. While these tasks do help put some money in your pocket (as do most other challenges) and they are somewhat entertaining, they are too much like the Easter egg hunts found in so many other games these days. Fun or not, the challenges in Red Dead Redemption will give you a nice break from the seemingly endless missions in the story of John Marston.
New Austin is very much alive. While trotting down the dirt road on your trusty stallion (or whatever type of horse you may own), it is not uncommon to pass other travelers. Some may be casually riding along, while others will be dashing along as if being chased. Players will witness villains being brought to justice, and will see crimes take place right before their eyes. The best part is that they can affect the outcome of any given event. Did a poor gentleman just have his horse stolen? Chase down the no-good thief that took it and take it back. It's even up to you whether you shoot the culprit or tie him up and leave him to the elements. Each location in New Austin has its own set of lively characters. Each will react to you based upon their own personality. Some will draw their weapon when threatened, while others will run away. Gang members will team up on you when you attack one of their members. It's difficult to express how immersive the Red Dead Redemption experience is. Players will believe they are John Marston while having all kinds of western adventures.
The last unforgettable element of Red Dead Redemption is its multiplayer. The game stays true to its open world style even when up to 15 other players are involved. The amount of fun to be had here is only limited by a player's imagination. Start up a posse and take on one of the many gang hideouts found around the multiplayer map (a slightly varied version of New Austin). When you're done with that, you can take on some of the challenges transferred from the game's singleplayer mode. If you're the killing type, you can even ride around shooting whatever players or NPC's you see (which will slowly raise your wanted level, causing the law to come after you). Besides the open world of Free Roam gameplay, there are also the standard structured gametypes found in many other shooter games (e.g. Shootout [deathmatch] and Grab Bag [capture the flag]). Rockstar also introduced cooperative missions with their Outlaws To The End downloadable content. Throughout all of these multiplayer experience, players will earn experience points that will unlock titles (displayed after their name), mounts (ranging from a donkey to horses to buffalo and beyond), and weapons. Like singleplayer, multiplayer offers hours upon hours of things to do. Free Roam seems to stand above the more structured gameplay. It gives players a sense of limitless fun and freedom. The other gametypes, while fun, will quickly tire players that aren't seeking a purely competitive experience. Regardless of how you go about playing, multiplayer will quickly suck up hours of your time as you are again thrust into the lively Old West.
Red Dead Redemption is truly a masterpiece. I would certainly rank it in the top my top 5 favorite games of all time. If you love open world gameplay as much as I do, you will love RDR. If you enjoy a casual multiplayer experience, you will spend countless hours online with friends (and strangers) in Free Roam. Rockstar has hit a home run with their new take on the Old West.