Red Dead Redemption Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3
Red Dead Redemption screenshot
Red Dead Redemption screenshot

If you were annoyed by the structure of GTA IV, whereby every NPC seemed to offer Niko help – but only after three or four missions of dogsbodying – you may find a similar sense of frustration with Red Dead. Stick with it: the characters you meet are excellently drawn, as a rule, and brilliantly voiced without exception. The over-arching story, meanwhile, takes its cues from several classic Westerns – particularly Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch – but it also finds a powerful tone of its own. Be warned, however, that it's just as bleak as GTA IV, perhaps even a little darker. Personally, I lap this stuff up – and besides, what did you want from a Western? This isn't Blazing Saddles, you know.

The barebones campaign can be completed in about 15 hours or so, but in practice it'll be almost impossible to stick to the story without being led astray by some form of distraction – and really you should take your time to investigate every deviation from the straight and narrow path. Mission design is generally of a very high standard, though I occasionally got the sense that too many quests descended into a prolonged battle against an endless stream of bandits or some other enemy. That's not to say that shooting people isn't fun: gunplay feels beefy and satisfying, and a distinct improvement over GTA IV. There's also a very useful bullet-time system, Dead Eye, that comes in handy when the going gets tough in the later stages of the story. Again, the Euphoria physics engine has a big hand in making the combat work, and I dare say that the game sets a new standard for the art of making virtual men slump into a broken, blood-stained heap.

So yes, the action rocks bells. But I still can't help but feel that, for me, it's the less familiar elements that help to make Red Dead Redemption the best game of 2010 thus far. There's an early mission where you have to herd cattle with your horse in the middle of a storm, and if you cock things up you'll have to watch as the cows plunge over a cliff to their deaths. It's very, very odd – and yet even this failure feels remarkably fresh. At other times it's just the rich atmosphere that wins you over – a random encounter with a laudanum addicted girl in the wilderness, or even just the feeling you get as you ride across the land in the pissing rain.

On top of all this, there's also the ripe promise of multiplayer. It feels a bit cruel to relegate such a big slice of the game to a fleeting mention – that much-hated journalistic cliché of the "multiplayer paragraph at the end" – but unfortunately I don't have any other option. I've not had a chance to try out the final review build, but I did get to try a preview build a few weeks ago, and it had an awful lot of promise – allowing up to 16 players to ride and fight across the entire world, or to take part in team-based and free-for-all contests. GTA IV's multiplayer managed to carve out a strong user base, and if Red Dead sells the four million copies analysts expect it to by the end of the summer, then history may well repeat itself.

Only time will tell, of course. Perhaps I'm wrong, and the gaming masses don't want to rush out and embrace Red Dead Redemption in the way they did with GTA IV. If they don't, it'll be a crying shame and perhaps the final proof that cowboy games just don't work. But I don't think that's going to happen. I think this game is going to do the business, big time. I certainly hope it does, because to be frank, it's a magnificent piece of work that everybody should play. John Marston may not quite be the next Jack Sparrow, but in the realm of cowboy games, Red Dead Redemption is clearly the genuine article.

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Highest Rated Comment

guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Quote:
my boner for this game is poking me in the eye

What? you mean you actually managed to get it out of Wes's arse!
Posted 01:41 on 22 May 2010

User Comments

ayreon2084's Avatar

ayreon2084

Video review with Miss Hungary! :P

It's a bit late, but who cares? hot chick!! :)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntvWn9epZDk
http://bit.ly/c6zQs1
Posted 14:16 on 11 June 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Hilarious...
Posted 09:07 on 22 May 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Quote:
my boner for this game is poking me in the eye

What? you mean you actually managed to get it out of Wes's arse!
Posted 01:41 on 22 May 2010
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ SexyJams

lmao!
Posted 20:52 on 21 May 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

No just kidding about it man,
my boner for this game is poking me in the eye :p
Posted 20:47 on 21 May 2010
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ SexyJams

I can sense you growing an erection over the excitement lmao. jk
Posted 20:45 on 21 May 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Seriously SERIOUSLY hope this arrives tomorrow.
Posted 20:31 on 21 May 2010
Marink's Avatar

Marink

It seems a lot like Gun, which I actually quite enjoyed playing. Also, I have been told to get this, so therefore I shall try and get this quite soon.
Posted 17:32 on 21 May 2010
clangod's Avatar

clangod

Cheers Neon for the cracking review. I really enjoyed the read. Liking your style dude.

I have a dilemma. My PS3 is nearing the end of its lifespan with repeated visits of the YLOD. I have managed to get a bit of game time over the last week or so but I fear that it will all come to a drastic halt very soon.

As someone who has never been too fond of Western genre anything, I can honestly say that RDR looks to change that for me in a big way. I have two days off come Monday. I am seriously considering buying it in the hope that I may be able to muster at least one all night session before the end. Next on the list however is either a new console, or an attempt at a DIY fix. I'm not convinced the DIY methods will result in any sustained lifespan for my console though and it could be up to 2 months before I can afford a brand new PS3. I've done all I can to avoid using the credit card.

Any news of an RDR package deal anyone???
Posted 17:28 on 21 May 2010
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244@ mydeaddog

cheers deaddog either way just free roaming with your posse sounds awesome
Posted 21:46 on 20 May 2010
SexyJams's Avatar

SexyJams

Just read this review for a second time!
One question:
are there going to be cheats?
I really hope not... I never used them in GTA IV anyway, but I want it to be a pure experience for everyone :p
Posted 20:55 on 20 May 2010
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Damn it, someone mentioned Fallout 3 and i was reading on another forum about that post.....my bad.
Posted 17:12 on 20 May 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ cousinwalter

It could very well but I was only talking about the similarities of RDR and GTAIV.
Posted 16:47 on 20 May 2010
Bloodstorm's Avatar

Bloodstorm

Yea, both have gimmicks that make the game easier and let you think you're good at the game when in fact you're not. (VATS and Dead Eye if i really need to point it out)
Posted 16:43 on 20 May 2010
cousinwalter's Avatar

cousinwalter@ El-Dev

Surely that describes most if not all open world games and most rpgs not just the 2 you have mentioned
Posted 16:33 on 20 May 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Red Dead Redemption
10
Out of 10
Red Dead Redemption
  • Absolutely nails the Western atmosphere
  • Incredibly pretty
  • A huge amount to see and do
  • The story takes a little while to get going
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 21/05/2010
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Publisher: Rockstar
Genre: Action
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 737 59
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