Red Dead Redemption Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360 PS3  Check Price

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.

New stuff to check out

To add your comment, please login or register

User Comments

draytone's Avatar

draytone@ El-Dev

:rolleyes:
Posted 16:28 on 20 May 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ guyderman

Good one...
Posted 16:21 on 20 May 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ El-Dev

Sounds like Fallout 3 to me :p
Posted 16:05 on 20 May 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

The following describes one of two games;

Travelling round an open world environment, completing main story missions, completing side missions, shooting people and interacting with other characters.

Is it GTA or RDR?

See what I did there?
Posted 15:34 on 20 May 2010
draytone's Avatar

draytone@ El-Dev

You haven't played it either El-Dev... so you don't know if it is like GTA or not...see what I did there?
Posted 15:05 on 20 May 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Just a note to say that i've removed the line about there being no manual aim in GTA IV, which was completely wrong. Not sure why I thought that... I suppose I just must have used manual aim a lot more in this game.
Posted 14:28 on 20 May 2010
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev@ Mastorofpuppetz

I personally don't see many differences between it and GTA. Seeing as you appear to have played it can you highlight them for me?
Posted 13:05 on 20 May 2010
draytone's Avatar

draytone@ Mastorofpuppetz

El-Dev likes to court a bit of controversy.
Posted 12:54 on 20 May 2010
Mastorofpuppetz's Avatar

Mastorofpuppetz@ El-Dev

You idiots, it is NOT like GTA, I am not a fan of GTA, but this game ia amazing, talk about close minded guppies. There are small similarities in basic mechanics, but the game is a lot different and better then the GTA series.
Posted 12:44 on 20 May 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ mydeaddog

Cheers Neon was going to the wrong preview.

Also aren't they releasing free DLC multiplayer missions in June?
Posted 11:15 on 20 May 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Cheers for the heads-up... fixed.
Posted 10:48 on 20 May 2010
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius@ mydeaddog

Thats a dead link Neon can't seem to find it either.
Posted 10:31 on 20 May 2010
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

Quote:
Originally Posted by scazz2244
and was wondering if it comes with co op or will it just come with the dlc?

The way multiplayer works is that there's a free-roaming mode where you can up to 15 others can ride around the world. You can form a posse (essentially a squad) of up to four riders, but there's nothing to stop more people working together if you've got headsets on...

There aren't any dedicated missions in free-roam mode, as far as I know, but there are gang hideouts to clear out and things like that. There are also lots of multiplayer challenges that you can enter with or without your posse. The whole world is open up to you, but I don't think you can play poker or the other minigames, which is a shame.

Free-roam also acts as a lobby for the various deathmatch modes. There are shootouts and grab-the-gold scenarios, each with free-for-all and team-based variants.

Then at some point later in the year there's a set of DLC co-op missions coming, which I presume (hope) will be a bit like the main campaign missions, only with a buddy.

If you've not yet done so, you can read our preview of RDR's multiplayer here.

[broken link fixed]
Posted 10:21 on 20 May 2010
eotscott's Avatar

eotscott

i have just ordered this..... i have been enticed it looks awesome been more and more impressed with everything coming out about it
Posted 09:43 on 20 May 2010
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman

Ghost Dog and Bev don't like a popular movie shocker!! - LOL! You guy's crack me up!

Really looking forward to playing this - sounds great!
Posted 08:33 on 20 May 2010

Game Stats

Technical Specs
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: 610 12
Check Price