You might not know it to look at me, all sullen eyes and soiled shirt, but I'm actually a bit of a perfectionist. So much so, in fact, that I’d rather repeat a level some nine times over than subject my poor protagonist to the shame of a ‘shit completion’. You know how it goes — dragging the pulverized chunks of Nathan Drake on to the next checkpoint — it just doesn’t feel right. I want to win, and win well: to use my skills wisely, to expend my ammo awesomely. Nowhere in the movies does Jason Bourne ever swan dive onto a bollard, or glitch into a building. Heroes make it all look so simple, and I’ll be damned if I don’t too.
Since Red Dead Redemption is all the rage right now, I may as well tell you about the time I made a complete cock-up of that. Yes folks, ‘twas a warm summer’s day in 1911 when I — John Marston’s cack-handed puppet master — made a complete pig’s ear of the arrival into Mexico. As it turns out, I had been expected to take one of the many scenic routes onto the Latin frontier, there to be greeted by the rich, dulcet tones of José González’s Far Away. This however, was not my experience.
Instead, I tried to coerce the lovingly-named ‘Horse 3’ into fording a small river. Sadly, this whinnying shit had all the instincts of a lemming — not to mention the ankles of an elderly, calcium-deficient speed skater. Truth be told, things had been sour between us from the beginning. I’m told that being chased down, wrangled, and then ridden about by an intoxicated cowboy tends to have that effect on folks.
For my part, I tried to treat the neighing nag with a healthy show of respect. For one thing, I never once blew his brains apart by accident, à la Horse 1, or allowed him to be horse-napped while hogtying six different women to a train track. And yet, for all my efforts, Horse 3 was no Horse 1. Or, to put it another way, if this were game were Metallica, H3 would be be Jason.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, I was telling you about the time an embittered horse robbed me of a seminal moment in gaming. The short story here is that Horse 3 had selected this very moment to sabotage my happiness and leap headlong over a cliff. Picture Free Willy mistaking the Pacific Ocean for a Bottle Bank and you’ll have some idea of how well this went. Fortunately for Mr. Marston, said fall wasn’t enough to kill him. Unfortunately, the armed camp of bandits I’d fallen into more than saw to that. Cut to black, reload game, and I'm now fully set up in Mexico. No magic moment for me, and no second chance for a first impression. Remember kids, auto-save isn’t always your friend.
So, why tell you all this? Could it be the survivor’s guilt, brought on by seeing Horse 3 crumple into a mushy, equine bean bag? Or perhaps I'm about to lecture you on the importance of linearity in storytelling, or why idiots like me shouldn’t be trusted to stay the course. But I like to think that by telling this story, I can in some small way remind you of the myriad joys involved in Red Dead Redemption — a game so great that even in buggering it up, it still left me with a story to tell.
And now, for Jerry’s final thought. Sometimes perfection isn’t a soothing melody, or a beautiful sunset. Sometimes perfection is being ‘Sonny Corleone’d’ by a hateful, scheming horse.