The sixth and final bullet forces its way into the gunman's chest, knocking him off balance and causing him to plummet from the roof of the house in a broken dive. I pause to reload my six-shooter, but my new friend, the home-owner, is still flapping about in panic. We've killed all the bandits outside, but there's still one bad guy inside the building - and he's got the landowner's daughter at gunpoint.
Back in the real world, a Rockstar rep is on hand to offer a spot of advice. As soon as I walk through the front door, I'll have just a few seconds to save the day. In a situation like this, it pays to be quick. In a situation like this, it pays to use Dead Eye - the Red Dead series' equivalent of bullet time. Time slows down, you run a reticule over the person you want to shoot, and targets are automatically painted over them; when you switch back to normal time, your unfortunate victim gets the Swiss cheese treatment.
Alright, I think. Let's do this! Under my digital command, John Marston enters the secluded prairie house. In seconds he spots the last remaining thug, holding a knife to the young woman's throat. And under my expert command... he runs into the side of the door frame like an enthusiastic drunk. The bandit makes a swift cut, slashing the girl's neck open. Swearing, I activate Dead Eye, and paint the sonovabitch with targets. Six little bullets riddle the murderer's body, and he collapses to the floor. The distraught father dashes in, begins to weep. I loot a chest in the corner of the room - and then, just for laughs, I loot the dead girl in front of her grieving dad. Hell, this is the Old West. You can't do the right thing all the time, can you?
This rather unfortunate episode was just one of the colourful moments I experienced while exploring the massive plains of Red Dead Redemption. To be honest, the sheer size of this game makes it quite a tricky proposition when it comes to writing a preview. There are so many side attractions and diversions here that I could easily spend the entire article focusing on these features - but then, that's exactly what I did in my last piece. No, today I'll resist the urge to tell you about the unexpected stuff - including a cannibal I found chowing down man-flesh in the middle of nowhere - and instead we can take a look at a few story missions.
A quick recap: RDR is the story of John Marston, a reformed outlaw who is dragged back into the world of violence by a shady government agency. The Feds want John to hunt down his old partner, Bill Williamson - and they aren't just asking nicely: the authorities are holding Marston's family, and they'll kill them if Williamson isn't brought in, alive or dead. The scene is set for an epic confrontation between one hard-as-nails man and his past, set in the dying years of The Old West.