Game: Red Dead Redemption 2
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Rating: M for Mature
The Game Awards took place on December 6th. This ceremony celebrates the industry’s best titles to hit store shelves this year. There were a handful of main contenders set to take the Game Awards by storm and win big, one of which was my personal pick for game of the year: Red Dead Redemption 2. It may not have won at the game awards but it is a winner at the Spring Creek Sun.
A Family In Turmoil
Red Dead Redemption 2 was released in late October; however, the game is so extensive it has taken time to fully experience all that it has to offer, not to mention the fact that the game’s online mode has only just been released. From Rockstar, creators of the infamous Grand Theft Auto series and Max Payne, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequal to the 2010 release which followed protagonist John Marston as he hunted down members of his old outlaw gang on behalf of the government. This time around we take the role of Author Morgan, a high-ranking member of the rag-tag group Marston will hunt down in the years to come. We interact with familiar faces from the previous games, such as Marston himself, Dutch, Uncle, and Javier Escuella, along with new individuals who may not survive to see the original. This simultaneously adds depth to both games while not requiring the player to have experienced the first outing. Through Morgan’s eyes we watch as a close-knit family bound together by loyalty and dreams attempt to survive in a rapidly diminishing old west.
The game begins rather linearly. You are stranded in the snowy mountains while laying low from the law, and therefore are not afforded access to exploration, yet. This serves as a kind of tutorial section which teaches players the new game mechanics, such as the ability to loot household containers like dressers, cupboards, desks, and more. Not only that, you can now customize your firearms by altering their color schemes and adding engravings. After completing a few of these setup missions, you will be unleashed into the wide-open world. There is so much to see and do, from hunting and skinning wild animals for crafting or selling purposes to robbing speeding trains, the west has so much to offer any budding outlaw. The game is not all about doing evil deeds though. Author Morgan can be a fugitive with a conscience; I only say can be because the choice is really up to the player. The world is filled with random events, from coming across a man floundering in pain after being bitten by a venomous snake to a hunter ensnared in a bear trap, during these moments you must chose to help, hinder, or even leave the strangers to their demise. Your decision will impact the world around you, altering how the people within it react to you.
As Real as It Gets
Red Dead Redemption 2 is beautiful to look at, especially if you are playing on a 4K compatible console and television. Rockstar has put in an insurmountable amount of time and effort into every minuscule detail, from encroaching thunder clouds on the horizon to your horse relieving itself as you ride, heck even non-player-characters will start to yell if you get further away from them during mid-conversation. The character models are also bursting with detail, for instance Author Morgan’s hair and beard will continue to grow as the days go by. Not only that, he must also eat, if not he will begin to lose weight. It is similarly necessary to wear heavy clothing when in snowy climates or light outfits when in warm areas of the map. This is as real as it gets.
Red Dead Online
Red Dead Redemption’s online component just recently launched in its beta form, meaning this is pretty much a test run with plenty of more updates and additions expected down the line. In this mode you can create your own cowboy or cowgirl and then explore the west and undertake missions with friends, or just hang out and hunt and fish. This mode offers fun in abundance; however, nothing is ever perfect. Currently Red Dead Online has a big problem with its currency system, forcing players to spend hours upon hours grinding missions just to afford a new item of clothing or weapon that is grossly overpriced. Rockstar recently commented that they will be implementing improvements soon. If this is fixed, Red Dead Online will surely be one of the best online games available.
Red Dead Redemption 2’s narrative spoke to me in a way a game hasn’t in years. The tale of Author Morgan and friends desperately attempting to stay relevant in a world that is rapidly changing around them is a coming of age story we can all empathize with. An engaging narrative combined with unparalleled gameplay ensures that Rockstar’s latest outing is not only the year’s best, but a masterpiece that will be remembered for a long time to come.