XBox 360 – Red Dead Redemption

While I have played Grand Theft Auto (1 & 4) from Rockstar before, I never really enjoyed these games and I expect nothing better from the Red Dead series. However, as a steady stream of glowing reviews appeared, I resolved to buy Red Dead Redemption and give it a go.

Quite simply, I could not put this game down; not until I completed it – including the 100% achievement. This games reeks of quality. Forget black and white, good and evil; this is all black and dark grey with smidgen of white around the edges.

From a gaming perspective, I suspect that replacing GTA’s automobiles with RD’s horses allowed Rockstar to build a much more immersive environment. No longer will your vehicle crash into a lamp post that pops up from nowhere due to the graphical draw distance; rather, the more leisurely horseback journey avoids pop-up and allows one to admire the world around you.

I happily rode from the towns out into the wilderness and ‘moseyed’ around the world. There were many memorable moments – such as seeing an agitated cowboy jump off his horse and run into hiding; I went to assist him, only to have him berate me for my nosiness on finding him urinating against a rock!

The missions were varied – chases, bounty hunting, cleaning out gang hideouts, ambushes, animal hunting, driving wagons or riding shotgun, trick shooting, herding, rescuing, escorting, capturing, gathering, skinning, & lots of different shooting challenges. Mini games of poker, blackjack, breaking horses, 5 finger fillet, & arm-wrestling are also included. Random events occur all the time that are neither part of the side quests nor the main story; life continues to go on whether you decide to take action or not, good or bad. Trains, stage coaches and upgrading your campsite allow one to fast travel between points.

As a parent, I got rid of this game as soon as I completed it. The story contains many, many choices where the axiom “the lesser of two evils” applies and many of the characters are morally repugnant people. On numerous occasions, you are presented with the opportunity to remove a thoroughly nasty person, only to find that you have helped another to replace him in all his nastiness – “the King is dead, long live the King”. While this makes a very compelling story, it is not one that I wanted to discuss with the children … yet.

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