Monday, August 30, 2010

Game Review: Red Dead Redepmtion

Created by Rock Star Games, Red Dead has been described as GTA set in the Wild West. Since I've never played the GTA series, I can't tell you if this description is accurate. But I know critics loved it, and more importantly, the boys at Penny Arcade liked it...and well, I got to borrow the game for free, so I decided to give it a try.

Normally, I don't review a game before finishing it. Because I pretty much always finish a game that I've started. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few games in my decades-long haze of relentless, somnambulant mediocrity, but I honestly can't recall a game I failed to finish since the legendarily awful Devil May Cry 4.

Which may lead you to believe that I'm going to kill this game, that I hated it more than those mindless drivers who aren't competent enough to steer a car through traffic using their full attention, but still insist on texting their friends at the same time. But that's not the case at's amazing to look at, with a stunning variety of actions available, including (but not limited to) breaking wild horses, driving stagecoaches, riding in a mining car, driving cattle, and playing horseshoes. The world is full of interesting characters and thoughtful dialogue. Weapons include guns, knives, and my obvious favorite - the lasso.

If you played this game for four hours, or eight, or even twelve - as much or more than most reviewers did, I'm sure - you'd be infinitely impressed. I spent my first few days almost wide-eyed at the depth of the gameplay and environment. But sadly, I quickly came to realize that nothing I did mattered.

There's no progression that I could find, so doing one of the many sidequests is essentially pointless. There's no xp, no increase of skills, no bars to move or bubbles to why am I chasing down another outlaw, exactly? Why am I collecting flowers for a crazy old man's dead wife, or finding a lost horse for an equally crazy stablehand into beastiality? I may get some money, but I still haven't found a use for the stuff yet. I may get honor and fame, but again, so what?

The story should be compelling, but the main character is intentionally shrouded in such mystery that I simply don't care. It boils down to one question: Will this outlaw-turned-bounty-hunter with unnamed motivations, hired by secret conspirators for unknown reasons, accomplish his unclear goal? Wow, I can barely wait to find out. I'm on the edge of my...zzzzzzzzz...

And finally, this is hardly the worst sin in the game, but it's possibly the most annoying. Every town has a tavern, and every tavern is full of prostitutes who endlessly proposition you...AND YOU CAN'T HAVE SEX WITH ANY OF THEM. Talking and offering money don't work, apparently it's not within character of this undeveloped mystery man to have sex. Wow, am I ever identifying with this guy. Even if you lasso, hogtie, and carry them to your sex. Dropping them onto a train track with an oncoming engine doesn't change their attitude in the slightest. (BTW - when the train hits, there's a cartoonishly unrealistic splash of blood with no body parts remaining, blah.)

So I'm stuck with a character that I can't customize (except for changing his outfits, woooo!), who is doing things for reasons I can't comprehend, and has no meaningful choices or consequences to his actions. It's a beautiful setting, an amazing engine, and endless amounts of voice-acting and extensively developed side quests...and none of it means anything. I'm not the least bit compelled to keep playing, which is a shame, for all of the care that obviously went into the design of the game.


At 11:48 PM, Blogger West College said...

Ya'm on Sweet Tea. Two words:

Vinker Noodles


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