The good, the bad but not the ugly. One of my biggest failures of being an ageing gamer is that it can take me some time to get around to playing a load of games. Red Dead Redemption 2 [RDR2] makes that list for a few reasons. Although I dipped into RDR2 not long after launch, it was also around this time that I decided I would like to build a PC to get that 60FPS (or more…) goodness.
Now after a little time off work, I’ve finally had the chance to get back in the saddle and dive into yet another huge Rockstar story and one of their biggest games to date. It mostly impresses, but with fear of getting stoned to death by some parts of the gaming community, it’s not without issues.
Set as a prequel to the 2010 masterpiece original Red Dead Redemption, the story see’s Arthur Morgan and his colleagues of the Van der Line gang on a journey of adventure and survival through a fictionalized representation of the Western, Midwestern, and Southern United States.
Over the roughly 40 hour story, players will fully live the life of an outlaw with shootouts and heists and other activities, also the less Hollywood side of things is included with hunting and taking on camp chores to keep their gang happy. The player will have many decisions that they can make to craft a world more personal to their play-thru and decide whether they want to live in honour or infamy.
I’ve noted before that Rockstar creates some of the biggest and most expansive game worlds on offer in games. RDR2 is their largest so far, by quite a margin. However, decisions made to make the game more realistic, do make the game slower and harder to stick to than earlier games they have made.
Although this is the 3rd game in the series, most players will only be familiar with Red Dead Redemption. Red Dead Revolver is a good game, but it’s changed too much and moved on so far in sequels to truly consider it the same series. As someone that loves world-building and lore, I’d love to see them come full circle and tie everything in one day, but this seems unlikely given the time passed since 2004.
RDR2 is around 3 years old at this time, and yet, in my opinion, nothing has yet to match the graphics on offer. Between characters and landscapes and the vistas on offer, the game is still light years ahead of 90% of modern releasers. Having started on console and now moved to PC, once again it’s made me thank the heavens for the glory of 60 FPS. (As a side note, if you cant tell the difference between 30 and 60 FPS, go see an optician and at every least, if you can’t see it you will feel it).
Even with the before mentioned choices that slow the game down, playing as Arthur Morgan is a joy. Shooting is weighty and brutal and Dead Eye/Vison (Matrix slow down effect), lets the player target enemies by body parts and the quickest kill shots. It’s hard to watch at times due to the realistic nature of the game, but satisfying in the same breath.
It’s taken me roughly 15 hours of in-game playtime to get back to where I was on my Xbox. I’ve enjoyed this grind, but as noted earlier the game is not without fault.
As Rockstar reached to offer the most realistic take on the old wild west, (not that there are many other options….., as a side note does anyone remember Gun? that was a game that could have had legs…..) they did at times, lose track of what is fun and what isn’t. Although I can see and understand the benefits of my horse being clean, I can’t say that maintaining this is enjoyable
The same can be said for weapons, taking the time to make sure they are clean and providing the most damage isn’t hard, but it’s not something I look forward to or enjoy doing. This is part of the reason that RDR2 can be such a graft to play thru, with the realistic nature of the game slowing down the often fast-paced style of 99% of most other games.
This, with Rockstars decision to make movements and player actions so true to life that it can cause such a slowdown, can make the game a far harder play thru than those earlier games on offer.
However, although I would count this as a downside and can be annoying at times, there is no dought that this is one of the best games that has ever been produced.
It’s not often that my partner will comment on games that I play, but she said this week, “That doesn’t really look like a game, is that a movie?”, this sums up what’s on offer with RDR2, it’s closer to a movie (in visuals at very least) than what it is a game. Nothing offers the scope and vision that Rockstar have produced.
RDR1 is still a joy to go back to, and although there are side missions, the main story is fantastically paced and well written, there are very few games that can keep up with what was produced. Also, the voice acting is among the greatest ever offered in a video game.
I’ve heard many gamers ask if a next-gen (current-gen…) version of the game could be offered, but it looks SO good I don’t think this is needed. Playing on Pc, the game looks well beyond what most have on offer, and it’s really the frame rate that holds the game back (30 fps on ps4 and Xbox one anyway). An FPS boost on Xbox or patch on PS5 would keep the game current for another few years at least.
I’ll be honest and say, the game is near perfect. But, I do miss the quicker style that was one offer withy RDR1. Rockstar would be best suited to get GTA 6 out the door and revisit RDR as soon as they can. GTA 5 is great, but it misses the personal touch and emotional elements that RDR features.
I won’t spoil the story, but it’s emotional and truly worth your time. RDR1 had maybe the best video game ending of all time and almost brought me to tears. Here’s hoping that Rockstar can up their output and provide as many games as they did earlier.
As a personal opinion, I do feel that prequels all fall into the same issue. Case in point, Star Wars Red Squadron is a great movie, but we all knew what was due to come next. With this in mind, it would be better to see what is possible with the world Rockstar has created rather than what needs to come to pass.
There is no doubt that Red Dead Redemption 3 will come at some point, but I would like to see Rockstar move the story on and set limits for what should be expected from games once again. I can’t wait to use the next game in the series to measure how well my system can perform. Over to you, Rockstar.