Rockstar’s Wild-West-Adventure just became backwards compatible on XBOX One, so we take the opportunity to revisit the state of New Austin and John Marsten’s journey through the prairie.

Red Dead Redemption

There’s a good chance that at least some of you gave one of Rockstar’s previous Open-World games a try.
GTA 3, taking the step from 2D into 3D, L.A. Noire pushing the envelope of facial animations in 2011 or the excellent GTA 5, returning to the fictional city of Los Santos in their largest Open-World to date. But from the crime-ridden streets of Los Angeles in the 1940s, and madness and mischief in Los Santos, we travel back in time to the turn of the century, to the fictional state of New Austin, right at the Mexican border.

Rdr_redemption_mountains02We begin our adventure with protagonist John Marsten, formerly the leader of a gang of outlaws, tasked with finding the remaining members of his gang and bringing them to justice, whatever that may mean. But obviously his first attempt goes horribly wrong, with Marsten alone and left for dead in the middle of nowhere. Rescued by Bonnie MacFarlane, the daughter of a ranch-owner, John starts repaying his debt to her for saving his life, while also helping the local Marshall in bringing down his old partners in crime, one by one.

Red-Dead-RedemptionAnd here is where Red Dead Redemption shines from an aesthetic standpoint, it’s Open-World. The barren plains and it’s dirty look, void of vibrant colours help to immerse yourself in the harsh and unforgiving wilderness of the frontier. Towns are often just a cluster of wooden shacks, populated with a mere handfull of helpless settlers that are more than once in need of your assistance against outlaws or roaming packs of coyotes. This structure though comes at a price, as traveling from one side of the map to the other might be a little tedious sometimes. But exploration is also rewarded! Random encounters with people in need of your help, or criminals in need of murdering are plentiful and help keeping things interesting during the game’s roughly 30 hour campaign. Several challenges to unlock special gear kept me interested another 5 hours after the story’s conclusion as well as in between missions or exploration. You can play a fully programmed match of poker, throw horseshoes or participate in one of the many races on horseback.

Red-Dead-Redemption-featureIn the end though, in contrast to the GTA series in particular, Red Dead Redemption’s open world is not pulling me back in for now. The story and it’s characters are where the action lies, while the environments lack the replay-ability-craziness that, for example, GTA 5 has. There are no fast chases with the cops in a tuned sports-car or crazy stunts off of bridges to perform. This game has a narrative that sets it apart from other games, focussing on one very important notion: nothing is ever just right or wrong!
And yes, I could elaborate further on what that means, but those of you who played this absolutely epic adventure will know. And to everyone else I can just say, go play it! It’s cheap, incredible, and probably available on a platform you own. Sorry PS4 players!

And if Rockstar is not announcing a follow-up soon (after Red Dead’s sales skyrocketed 14000% after the backwards-compatibility announcement), I am seriously worried about their mental stability. That shit’s going to print money!

Red Dead Redemption was released in 2010 for PS3 and XBOX 360, and is now available on XBOX One.

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Beitragsbild: Kevin Wendlandt
Bilder: Take-Two Interactive/Rockstar Games