I know, I know… I disappeared, again. I wasn’t sitting here contemplating life, as my last post may have you thinking. Okay, I wasn’t JUST sitting here contemplating life. (Ed. I just erased the nearly-finished entry, from this point… I hate that and had to share) No, I was playing a wonderful little game you may have heard of called Red Dead Redemption. In case you have NOT heard of it, it’s an open-world western in the same vein as the Grand Theft Auto series. This ain’t GTA, though. It’s a world of cowboys, open expanses, wild animals, and guns. Okay, so it’s a LITTLE like GTA, but the similarities are drowned out by the environment. It’s the western game I’d always hoped for, and because of this I like Red Dead Redemption even more than my beloved Grand Theft Auto IV. This isn’t a review (as I still have so much more to play), but it’s been a week of fun and surprises, and I’d like to share that with you below :).
Note on spoilers: I’m not ruining story elements here, (as I’d hate for anyone to ruin the story for ME, too), but I’m sharing a number of game-play elements that surprised me and entertained the heck out of me, and I wouldn’t want to ruin those surprises for anyone hoping to experience them first-hand.
First of all… freaking cougars, man!
No, not that kind..
These little suckers have given me more heart attacks this week than anything. Imagine – you’re riding your trusty steed over the land, enjoying the bunnies and pretty skies, when, with a blur/scream, your horse drops down dead and you’re on the ground. What was it? A freaking mountain lion. Just had to mention that.
The world is teeming with life, though, and most of it doesn’t want to kill you. Besides the aforementioned cougars and bunnies, I have seen dogs, coyotes, wolves, cows, skunks, armadillos, raccoons, snakes, wild horses, deer, rams, ducks, hawks, vultures, crows, songbirds, and in the two areas I haven’t yet been, at least grizzly bears and buffalo. Every creature sounds, reacts, and looks very real… and that’s the best part about the game, so far.
What really gets me is just how good everything looks. The first day I played until the game-day had reached nighttime and as I walked out of a building to see the night sky, I was absolutely amazed to see how fantastic it looked – pitch black and filled with hundreds and hundreds of bright stars. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, though, because I’m caught by how beautiful it all is on a regular basis. I can be in the middle of hunting someone down, but I’ll sometimes have to readjust my camera to admire a breathtaking sunset, and say (out loud, mind you), "Wow." I absolutely love the skies – they’re like an oil painting come to life, but the whole thing just looks amazing. You can watch a storm roll in, hit you (with rain, thunder, and lightning… and the horses are a’scared of the lightning), last for about 20-30 minutes (real-time), and then dissipate as the sun breaks through. You can watch a horse’s muscles push and pull as you ride it at varying speeds. The environment, alone, is captivating… but so is the game-play.
Before I break down into a simple list of things that have made me smile, laugh, or "Wow", I have to mention that I have not had this much playing a game in I don’t know how long. Even with Grand Theft Auto IV or God of War III, while they both did things that amazed me (with the former including a story that hit me hard in the emotion-chords), I am somehow having more fun with Red Dead Redemption. It’s not just one factor, but everything combined. It’s the living world, the setting, the fact that shooting has never been so fun and satisfying in a video game before (not ever).. it’s everything. The western setting feels fresh and exciting, and, really, who DOESN’T love a great western. The story and characters have been extremely enjoyable so far, and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. For now, though, a list of things I’ve loved:
- I mentioned it, but still… watching the skies will always captivate me
- Shooting people’s hats off
- A reoccurring night-time mission, which involves doing a "night watch" over a ranch – a deputy tells you to follow the trusty town dog, "Charlie", around until you have to break up some type of crime
- Wandering through the wild at night and hearing a nearby pack of coyotes yelping and howling
- The first time I shot a wolf and didn’t kill it, discovering that if you shoot them once they walk off a little ways, howl, and then fall down dead – beautiful.
- Lassoing everything: dragging people from my moving horses, pulling people OFF of their horse, hogtying folks, putting someone on a train track and laughing at the mess that follows, leading a horse, etc.
- The first time a cougar attacked me. I shot the cougar in the face, skinned it (to sell in town), then stood over my dead horse and took a moment… then skinned the horse.
- Found a man, out in the wilderness, crying on his knees next to a dead woman with blood all around her. A gun was on the ground next to her. The man then picked up the gun and shot himself in the head. I then looted his dead body and found $5. Video games!
- In a town called Thieves’ Landing, there is no law – I can kill as much as I please.
- In any town, killing gang members does not obtain a wanted level
- The fact that it was so darn hard not using 27 amazing looking screen-captures for this entry
- Played online, joined a posse, and we all traveled from fight to fight in a stagecoach… shooting people and birds as we went along. I usually rode shotgun.
- Seeing a train leave the station before I was able to get on, running after it, whistling for my horse, jumping onto my horse without breaking stride, catching up to the train, and then jumping onto it as my horse rides away. I almost cried.
- The fact that the draw-distance is so far. I can stand on a high point and see as far as the human eye would be able to see… and the detail gradually fades just as it would in real life.
- Doing a series of side-missions for strangers who each claim to be missing someone who went up "into the hills", only to finally discover (after each previous time resulted in only finding a bloody spot on the ground) a cannibal.. and then shooting him in the head.
- Shooting people in the head.
- Shooting a gun out of someone’s hand, hogtying them, and executing them.
- I was taken down by a cougar and lost my horse. I killed the cougar, and immediately after skinning both dead animals, a SECOND cougar jumped on me from out of nowhere. I almost dropped my controller, and the thing killed me.
- When aiming the gun, the main character goes out of focus, so as to put the attention on whatever is about to die. This also happens while spinning the camera quickly.
- The fact that if you kill someone (in town or not), unless there is a witness, you get away with it. In town, you’d have to then take care of the witness before they tell the sheriff unless a deputy sees you do it themselves, and in the wild… well, the witness better run fast.
- People don’t run very fast.
Obviously, I love this game… but words and pictures, honestly, do not do it justice. So, if I haven’t yet, I’d love to show you why, in person.