By George Ware
There is no way Red Dead Redemption 2 can be anything other than five stars. When Rockstar released this epic on the 26th October 2018 they may as well have included “Game of the Year” in the title, seriously, its that good. Getting my copy on pre-order, I can attest to the fact that the hype going in to this game was one of its biggest strengths and weaknesses. While initial sales of the game have been massive, cashing in $725 Million in three days, poor reviews could have seen the game flop after the first couple weeks. After all, game developers are becoming increasingly reliant on their player base sticking around to sink money in to a game and customers simply won’t do that if the game fails to deliver, I’m looking at you Battlefront 2.
Red Dead Redemption 2, for those of you that don’t know, is an open world third person adventure western set in 1899 America and is the prequel to Rockstar’s 2008 barnstormer, Red Dead Redemption. Having had 10 years to produce a sequel, you won’t be surprise to hear that Red Dead Redemption 2 is the biggest and most ambitious game Rockstar have ever produced, even more so that Grand Theft Auto 5. There is simply so much going on in a massive open world that is full with interesting characters and genuinely human NPC’s. Rockstar Co-Founder and Vice-President Dan Houser has been quoted by New York Magazine’s entertainment brand, Vulture, as saying that the game is “a vast four-dimensional mosaic in which the fourth dimension is time, in which the world unfolds around you, dependent on what you do”. Houser even stated in the interview that the non-playable characters of Red Dead Redemption 2 have over “80-page scripts each” and that, if all the game’s dialogue scripts where stacked, they “would be eight feet high”. The game is also said to include over 500,000 lines of dialogue and over 300,000 animations.
In the game you play as Arthur Morgan, a morally ambiguous outlaw on the run as a member of the infamous Van Der Linde gang. In the story you will follow the gang as they are forced to flee the Pinkerton Detective Agency and bounty hunters after a ferry robbery went badly wrong. One the games strongest assets is that, above all else, it is a fantastic story. Rockstar are known for their long and complex character driven storylines and Red dead Redemption 2 doesn’t disappoint. A mixture of excitement, tragedy, tension, and action, you will find yourself compelled to find out what happens next after every story mission, just as I did and just as you think you might have an idea of what will happen next, the game can throw a completely unexpected curve ball at you. Combine all of this with an excellent honour system, which judges your characters morals, adjusting different characters reactions and the storyline depending on how you play, and you have a recipe for a world conquering juggernaut of a game.
The gameplay is not too far removed from the original Red Dead Redemption. This is actually a good thing as it brings a slightly nostalgic aura to the game while also being an improvement in pretty much every way. Shooting mechanics are top notch and the physics, while realistic, can also provide you with some hilarious moments. The game is packed with little details, such as snow and mud remembering your footprints, that make the game feel much more special and realistic. The lighting is also a triumph of what is possible, helping to make the already fantastic graphics look animated movie levels of good.
However, no game is without its flaws and, despite the unbelievable technical achievement Rockstar have produced, Red Dead Redemption 2 does have some. The game is a victim of its own success in a sense of its size. It is so massive that traveling can sometimes feel like a lifetime and while the game is hailed for its side quest activities, some essential parts of the game, such as hunting and camp maintenance can feel like a chore. You can sometimes find yourself bored with the game but only until the next gun fight or mission takes place and then your right back in the action. Being so large the pacing of the game can feel like its moving at the rate erosion but this is a problem that splits fans, some preferring fast pace action while others like a methodical game that allows you to explore every little detail, of which there are plenty, and you can definitely tell which fan base Rockstar are aiming for.
Overall, Red Dead Redemption 2 is about as close to a flawless game as you can get. Somehow managing to be extremely ambitious and yet successful, Rockstar have created a landmark game that has raised the bar yet again. With the introduction of Red Dead Online, Red Dead Redemption 2 can be considered the full package and a game that players, even weeks on from its release, are still finding new and interesting details and activities. Well worth the price of £49.99, the game will last for years, just like the original game, and will most likely go down as not just a cult classic but as a Rushmore moment in gaming innovation.