As the cold winter blows around the protagonist and the people surrounding them, Red Dead Redemption 2 starts you in a world that is harsh and hopeless. The snowflakes, fog, and movement of the crew looks highly detail in everyway. Rockstar may have something going for themselves in this wild west setting you’ll thoroughly enjoy. Unfortunately, that intro isn’t a representation of the experience you wish it carry through.
Red Dead Redemption 2, with all intention of this happening, is a prequel sequel of Red Dead Redemption. Technically, its the third game in the series, but for the story and connection of the two, this starts it off.
You play as Arthur Morgan, who was taken in by a man name Dutch and you and a rag tag of “fellers” must recover from a botch robbery in a area called Blackwater. You’ll learn game play elements in the few missions before you and the people your protecting, go out into the world and try to survive the vast land of the Wild Wild West.
It’s gigantic to say the least. There is a lot of open land, forest, hills, mountains, trains, roads, and more you’ll explore. The colorful environments, backgrounds, lighting effects, and other technical details they input in this game is breathtaking. From clothes getting dirty to hair growing back after a fresh hair cut overtime, is impressive that they worked it in. Buying or stealing horses, looting money, stopping racist activity, and more are just some examples you’ll randomly encounter.
That’s pretty much all that’s great in the game because once again, Rockstar has pretty much delivered a mediocre rehash of elements from previous works. Betrayal, revenge, multiple antagonist, character deaths to create emotional moments, barely no background or character development that will effect you or the NPC. Most missions follow the same pattern. Talk to someone who received a “tip” or “overheard” someone and follow them to the destination. Escaping on horse or in a cart. Fight your way out until somebody runs away and the NPC tells them their gone. Receive payment or some other award and then return to base. It pretty much gets redundant after that.
Speaking of tedious missions, be prepared for a long travel while listening to a little tidbit of dialogue as the loop of the western blaxplotation soundtrack plays throughout. Since there’s no license music to keep your interest, you’re force to tune out the drab and lackluster compositions. You want some harmonicas, banjos, Arthur thoughts or narration to fill the dead parts in this game. The saloon piano tunes are admirable when you sit around and hear it, I must say.
RDR2 is more of a sim game than open world. It has the open world layout but the movement and controls are connected to the sim mechanics. To run fast, you tap the button to make you do it and in doing so, it’ll drain your stamina that will slowly regain back depending if you eat something or start walking. You pay to improve the community you’re in. You buy supplies and hunt to feed and take care of everyone. You donate items and money to “do your part” although weirdly enough, most of the NPC’s that is there barely tell you much of what they did. Some will if you walk over and talk or listen in but that’s pretty much it.
Combat is satisfying and sturdy. Taking cues from Max Payne 3 without bullet time, the cover base fights are fair. As for balance, that depends on what time your doing the mission. You can’t see enemies at night and where to hit them for a headshot but luckily for the auto aim on them, it makes it easier to just shoot and progress. The Bow and guns all feel good to use and you can make them powerful by crafting on that particular gun. You can buy new guns at the gunsmith in towns but make sure you can enter it.
The game consist more than just the law. It has bounty hunters, other gangs, and guards galore if you enter unwanted territory. All that is covered in red which indicate to stay away or don’t get caught. Luckily, you can risk it by the side quest, random actions and meetings that happen in this journey. Setting captives free to receive clues, robbing trains or stagecoaches, collecting debt, hunting bears and other wild animals, staying at hotels in the town, stopping pedophiles, and other insane and interesting random moments help elevate the activites. Each has a reward to it that will benefit you or the camp. If that excites you, you won’t be displease.
You will though be irritated on how eye rolling the writing is. The game has some terrible lines, specially from character traits don’t match up with or gel right with Arthur. There’s line in here that should make Arthur punch these characters or react with some reasoning but since the game needs a story, he just goes along with it and the tone shift changes which makes previous conversations become worthless. Of course, most Rockstar games don’t have memorable lines or novel winning narrative, so having something that’s at least passable at times is an improvement.
Fast travel is in the game but good luck with it. Since the text is in the top left corner of the screen, you may miss on what needs to be done. Also, there is a hint system that is suppose to track evidence of foot steps and smell. If hunting isn’t your thing, you’ll pretty much won’t use it or forget that it was there.
Controlling your horse isn’t difficult and at times, you can ram into another person on horseback and watch the funny collision of you four falling unto the ground. The voices and sound effects sound authentic and really showcase how cinematic the game can be. Which it is at times.
To see the map, you constantly have to pause the game. There isn’t a easier method of doing it. You can though, easily retrieve your weapons from your horse. As you and the horse build a relationship, you will gain experience to become stronger. That way, after making a waypoint to a destination or just wondering, you won’t have to let supplies deplete from your inventory.
Hunting the wild life takes time to finesse and quite fun. You have the option to skin them and sell their pellet for cash or bring the dead animal to feed. Be aware though because they can easily harm and scare your horse. You can run away or stick around and kill them. You can also revive your horse and call them and name them but make sure they can hear it. They won’t come if you leave them behind or if they run away.
Other than that, it’s mindless fun. Red Dead Redemption 2 does a great job bringing a living but dull at times world with paint by the number story beats you’ve encounter before in their games. Those who know what they get from Rockstar’s Open World games will be contented on all that is offered from the game. Those who long for a change and an unexpected experience like no other, there’s Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath Of The Wild, Sleeping Dogs, Sunset Riders, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Max Payne 3, and surprisingly, Mafia 3. Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t have a lot of redeeming qualities, but you’ll be buried with some colorful moments here and there.
Arthur said it best: “I’m beginning to feel like an errand boy”. My sentiments exactly
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