Red Dead Redemption, developed and published by Rockstar Games and released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 in mid-2010, was one of the most anticipated games of the year. A spiritual follow-up to Rockstar’s 2004 third-person shooter Red Dead Revolver, it is an action-adventure game set in the declining years of the Old West of the United States in an open-world style. Critics absolutely loved RDR, garnering high ratings with major game review sites like IGN, Game Spot, and Metacritic – indeed, it went on to become one of the most highly-rated games of all time and won Game of the Year from multiple media outlets. Fans loved the game just as much, purchasing millions of copies worldwide, making it arguably the most popular Rockstar Games offering of all time. The final piece of downloadable content, Undead Nightmare, released in October of 2010, is set in a zombie apocalypse scenario putting the player in survival mode. It proved so popular Rockstar released it as a stand-alone game, also for Xbox 360 and PS3.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, as already stated, RDR is set in the fictional counties of New Austin and West Elizabeth in the United States, in the years when the Old West was dying, as well as the fictional state of Nueva Paraiso in Mexico. To summarize, the storyline follows the adventures of outlaw John Marston, who has changed his ways and begun a family with a female member of his former gang. Throughout the game, he is attempting to rescue his wife and son from Bureau of Investigation agents who have kidnapped them in order to force Marston to help them capture three members of his former gang. They promise Marston that not only will the return his family to him safely, but they will also provide him with amnesty and clear his record if he helps them. Of course, as you might guess, Marston soon finds out the Bureau isn’t to be trusted.
If you’ve ever played a game from Rockstar’s other famous franchise, Grand Theft Auto, then you will feel right at home playing RDR. Gameplay is very similar to GTA, except that instead of driving cars, you’re riding on horseback or stagecoaches. The mechanics are the same, though. To complete your game objectives, you find yourself set out on various tasks – finding missing family members for people in town, roping cattle for the nice ranch family who takes you in, helping the sheriff catch wanted criminals, etc. There’s even a conduct setup in place, and you can make specific choices that enable you to play John as a good guy or as an outlaw. There are also all sorts of mini games and side quests, from card tables and horseshoes to picking herbal flowers and skinning animals. You can even check the Wanted posters and capture fugitives for some great rewards! And of course, there is always a General Store at which to spend your gains by purchasing herbal health remedies, bullets, and new weapons, among other items.
Despite the game’s massive popularity, I know there are still people out there who have hesitated to give it a chance. If you’ve considered picking it up before but passed it over, don’t continue to miss out – pick this game up. It’s extremely affordable now (although it was worth the $60 USD asking price when it first came out), and it’s a purchase you’ll be glad you made. You will never find yourself bored in Red Dead Redemption, and you’ll be thinking about it long after the credits roll. Do yourself a favor and play this game!