Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360PS3

Red Dead Redemption is a Western epic, set at the turn of the 20th century.

Review Verdict Read Review
10Out of 10
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For years it seemed as if no-one in Hollywood could make a successful pirates movie. Sure, if you looked back to the 1930s there was Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and a whole bunch of other swashbucklers – but in the second half of the Twentieth Century? Nothing but duds. From Roman Polanski's Pirates to Cutthroat Island, via numerous versions of Treasure Island, no-one managed to nail the formula, to deliver the quintessential pirate blockbuster. There seemed to be no hope for the genre… and then along came Gore Verbinski with Pirates of the Caribbean. It tore up the box office, won millions of fans and reinvigorated Johnny Depp's career. Jack Sparrow became a global icon: go to any fancy dress party and you'll find someone who looks like Russell Brand on a killing spree… only without the suspect trouser stains.

Why do I say all this? Because Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption is the Pirates of the Caribbean of cowboy games.

It's true. We've had a few decent rootin' tootin' howdy-em-ups over the years – Gun, Call of Juarez, the original Red Dead Revolver – but none of these efforts ever felt like the genuine article. Perhaps more importantly, from an industry perspective at least, they never seemed to win the heart of the gaming public. With the release of Red Dead Redemption I think things are going to change. The words "Grand Theft Auto" may be absent from the title, but Rockstar's pedigree is well known even among non-gamers – and on top of that, the release is being backed by a massive marketing campaign. More pertinently, the game itself is absolutely spectacular.

The sheer quality of Red Dead Redemption is evident right from the word go. After a moody intro sequence, former outlaw John Marston steps off a steam train and into the dusty town of Armadillo. Within seconds of the player assuming control, a drunk staggers out of the local saloon and falls flat on his face. In the grand scheme of things it's a tiny, insignificant moment, but to a certain extent it says a lot about the game as a whole. It's a nice little detail for starters, one that recalls the flavour and tone of countless Western movies. On a more technical level, it's also beautifully animated. It might seem strange for me to enthuse about a digital drunkard falling over, but when the guy tumbles to the dirt, it just feels right. This is a game where people fall over a lot, usually just after you've put a bullet or three between their eyes, and stuff like this matters.

A lot of people are probably wondering whether Red Dead Redemption is simply GTA IV with horses and funny hats. There's some truth to this idea: for all the improvements to the engine and game design – and there are many – the basic framework is very familiar. There's the usual downtrodden protagonist – a violent but principled underdog, surrounded by thugs and oddball scoundrels. There are the quest-dispensing NPCs, laden with dodgy-sounding promises, and there's the near limitless array of side quests and distractions. Once again there's also a huge open world playground to explore, but this time it really is open.

Since 2008, GTA IV's Liberty City has been the high water mark for sandbox game environments. The combined plains of Red Dead Redemption's New Austin and Mexico form a very different world, but there's no denying that they trump their urban predecessor on several fronts. Your surroundings are astonishingly beautiful at times, and when you ride to the top of a high crest of land you may find yourself pausing for a moment just to admire the sweeping grandeur of it all – the forests, deserts and canyons, and the pockets of human presence: a wooden shanty town in the distance, or a lone steam train crawling across the horizon. John Marston may be the (anti)hero of the story, but there's no doubt that the world itself is the star of the show.

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Highest Rated Comment

guyderman's Avatar


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

smackybumbum's Avatar


Wow! Neon Kelly! Theres a blast from the past!
Posted 12:21 on 06 July 2016
ayreon2084's Avatar


Video review with Miss Hungary! :P

It's a bit late, but who cares? hot chick!! :)
Posted 14:16 on 11 June 2010
SexyJams's Avatar


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


Damn it, someone mentioned Fallout 3 and i was reading on another forum about that 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


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

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Red Dead Redemption
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: 470 13
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