A game that has been on everyone’s radar for a long time has finally arrived! Red Dead Redemption 2, all 100ish GB of it has now been installed and played by many across the world and I am one of those many. Having taken Friday off work to get an extra day with the game I have already put in nearly 40 hours of gameplay and what follows is my review of that game so far, spoiler free of course.
You take charge of Arthur Morgan who is a trusted and well-respected member of Dutch van der Linde’s gang as they try to make their way in this Wild West. The gang is made up of a number of misfits who all have their own role and you gradually meet them as the game plays out. From your camp, the story grows as you take on missions and side quests for the gang, the camp and strangers in the world.
The game has a slow pace to start as you fall back in love with Rockstar’s latest work of art. For some it may feel too slow as each of the early missions introduce game mechanics, we are all probably familiar with such as Dead Eye, hunting and horse riding and different characters. However, I would argue that this just gives you more time to appreciate the world in which you are in. Stick with it as the game gradually opens up as you till you have complete free roam.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of gameplay mechanics that you could easily miss but really show the detail and depth of this game. You need to look after Arthur by not only filling up your health and stamina bar but also their core. You will need to bath so you don’t smell too much and scare off animals while hunting. A barber will only cut what hair you have which will grow back over time. Your camp demands contributions from everyone and you will need to bring supplies back to maintain a happy camp. These all play out alongside story missions and the main gameplay.
The feel to the game is heavy and deliberate which fits perfectly with the style. Weapons need time to reload and aim as you would expect with old bolt action rifles and 6 shooter revolvers. Shots sound heavy when they hit someone with a great thud knocking them back. Walking through the mud will make your boots dirty, fall into the water and your clothes get wet and keep causing trouble and you will build up a bounty for that area. These are just more parts of the game that add to that overall real experience this game has built.
The audio of this game matches up to the visuals as well. The opening scenes of this game play out in a heavy snowstorm and you can hear the snow crunching underfoot as you make your way through it. The voice acting is fantastic throughout and really contributes to pulling you into the story. The sounds of wagons passing by and the rolling thunder of trains just show that the audio has been thoroughly considered.
I don’t think I can stress enough that this game is full of little details that you could easily miss but when you catch one it has such an impact. Let me share one occasion where this happened to me. A stranger asked if I would help get their medicine wagon back, being the nice guy that I am in Red Dead I went on my way to get this wagon. After dealing with the gang who stole the wagon, I began my journey back to town but along the way, I managed to kill one of the horses pulling the wagon and at this point, Arthur Morgan said, “If anyone asks there was only 1 horse when we found it”. Amazing!
What is clear from the start is that this game has been built to look amazing. The opening gameplay in the snow sets the tone for what you should expect from the rest of the game. Not only the landscapes but the buildings, wildlife and what fills the world has so much detail in it you would easily be forgiven for just letting the game play out with the cinematic camera on while you sit back and watch.
Once you accept that this game is gorgeous, and the audio is first class you can finally start to get your teeth into the gameplay. As you might expect there is no lack of activities to keep you distracted from actually progressing the story. The vast majority of these, unfortunately, do not help you become a well-respected member of society but instead see you selling stolen horses to an interesting pair of brothers, stolen stage wagons to someone starting up a side business and holding up stores for that bit of extra cash.
On the bright side, you can get some of this honour back by helping town sheriffs with a bit of bounty hunting, stopping to help random strangers while out in the world and supporting your camp with money and food. If building up your honour isn’t so important to you then tracking wild animals to hunt should keep you busy as there is around 200 of them. Want something a little more relaxing then fishing might be more your thing as you work your way through the 30 different fish.
What I am trying to say is this game is full of stuff to do and you could find yourself caught up in all of this instead of the story. However, if you do focus on the story missions you will be treated to the ups and downs of travelling with a wanted gang in an evolving world that is entering a new era. Pull together the great graphics, fantastic voice acting, and the emotional story and it gives you a tale which looks and feels like something you would expect from a film.
Now I love Red Dead Redemption 2 and the 40 odd hours I have put in have been great. However, it would be unfair of me to assume that this game is for everyone, so I think it is fair I point out a few elements that some may have concerns about. As I mentioned before the game does have a slow pace compared to some recent releases which are more action-packed and quick paced. The game might feel empty if you do not try out some of the side activities and with it being such a large open world it could feel like a chore going between missions.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a fantastic game that has been worth the wait. To fully enjoy this game, you really need to dedicate the time to take in all the smaller details. Rockstar has built a more realistic action-adventure game that rewards you for taking on all this game has to offer. Set aside some time and give this game your full attention, you will not be disappointed.