Cowboy’s Rule!

Game: Red Dead Redemption
System: Xbox 360, PS3
Release: May 2010

Red Dead Redemption is one of the best games I have played this year. Rockstar's team in San Diego does an excellent job. Their presentation of the dying American West is unique and surprisingly accurate. The influences from older Western movies is obvious, but the solid writing, character development, and visuals set this game apart. There is also great multiplayer action, and zombie DLC to add on more hours of fun.

Multiplayer is a blast. Players begin in a Free Roam session with a mule and a six shooter. Team up with other players, by making a posse, to take on objective missions. There are also team based games, but if you want to be a dick, you can just shoot anyone who looks at you funny. Collect money to unlock better equipment and other goodies. I didn't play as much MP as I did SP, but what I did experience was very reminiscent to Diablo II. Meet up and kill enemy AI. Just no loot or wizards.

Single player was dominated by strong writing, beautiful landscapes, and the lasso. The writing developed fascinating characters, and the plot was unique to the video game industry. Players take on the role of John Marston. He used to be a Robin Hood of sorts. A member of a gang that supposedly robbed from the rich to give to the poor. Well some of the other members went crazy. John tried to run away and start anew, but that darn pesky no good Federal Government decided to make a reunion of sorts. They kidnapped his family, and blackmailed him into killing his former gang. Now John does what these bastards ask, but in the end…well I don't want to spoil it.

Gameplay is what you would expect from a Rockstar game. The cover system works very similar to that of GTA IV. Horses handle different then cars, and there are fun things like bullet time and lassos. The former is overpowered. There is so much time to line up dozens of shots in bullet time that it almost seems unfair to the poor stupid AI. The lasso is my favorite weapon. Run up to anyone you want. On foot or on horse lasso that mofo and drag them through the streets. Hogtie criminals that rob stores to watch the owners kick the crap out of them. The lasso put more smiles on this face then any other aspect of Red Dead.

The last thing worth mentioning are the eye popping visuals. The character models are not much better then the GTA's, but the landscape is fantastic. Huge vast spaces to explore. Mountains, rivers, plants, animals, the stars, and the moon will keep you wandering around this game world for hours. There were some minor visual issues with level of detail popping and the occasional horse impersonating an ostrich. Unfortunately with a game this large it appears such issues are an industry norm.

Many have dubbed this epic cowboy adventure as a mere GTA clone. They are absolutely positively correct. The brilliant part is the game feels different then any of the other GTA games. Horses, lassos, and bullet time ad just enough gameplay elements to make it few new. The fantastic writing and change in scenery produce an entire new world to explore that seems vastly larger then any city. Red Dead Redemption will keep you entertained for months on end. Multiplayer, DLC, and a solid 15 hour single player campaign is worth the Full Price of admission. Now go on out there partner and rustle up some fun.

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