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Red Dead Redemption PS3 Review - -

Gameplay 9.5
Graphics 10
Sound 10
Value 9.5
Distributor: Rockstar
Review Date:
May 2010
Edwin Millheim


Red Dead Redemption

There is just something about the old west that inspires different feelings in people. Be it awe, or romanticism of an era. It was a dangerous time, a mind boggling time of expansions into a vast country, from wilderness forts and trapper camps on to boom towns that rose up from nothingness. Yes, there is something about the old west of myth and legend that is ripe, full of potential stories and a well spring of gaming potential. There have been a few stabs at the old west, or western genre, though very few have even come close to being a satisfying rendition of the times.

Rockstar took a swing at it with the original Red Dead Revolver, a half developed game from Capcom. They brought the game to some respectability. Now with Red Dead Redemption we get an open world filled with that last of the old west atmosphere. Even in the vastness of the land there is the feel of a living world. The game designers have hit things dead bang here in the openness of the plains, the hills and buildings , horses , everything brings a look into a wold during a turn of the page in history.

With a tale that gives an unblinking eye towards characters in a re- imagining mix of history and western fiction, Rockstar has set a high standard for what an immersive interactive gaming experience should be. While the basic open world mission structure is still there, just like one of their other famous never really have to play the main mission to have a blast. There are so may side things to do. Granted it's a formula that Rockstar has used to great effect, though with Red Dead Redemption it feels like there is more to do than before. At one instant you can decide to just go hunting and rack up some pelts and meat to sell. Go on bounty hunting missions, or while away some time playing cards, decide on weather to watch events unfold or take a hand in the fate of the characters around you. Leave them to what ever plays out, or save them. Side missions and challenges, the concept is nothing new to the gaming world...

It's been beautifully implemented here, it make it feel bright and new like a shiny gold nugget. The classic “do this for me to get this from me” kind of missions may have some players crying “fools gold!” While some of the errand missions can become a bore, the delivery is so well done you tend not to notice really. A simple thing like shooting a bird can trigger shooting challenges. The game world makes it feel like there are endless possibilities.

Rockstar San Diego filled the world with over 30 different species, both domestic and wild. Hunting and skinning critters is a part of the game that works out perfectly and nets the player some cash when taking the meat and pelts into towns to sell off. It's a simple system,but a rock solid system. That mirrors that frontier life and gives the player a little taste of what it was like, even in it's stylized way. Rockstar put a lot in the game, giving players plenty of bang for their buck as the saying goes.

Through out the game there are various challenges to be had to keep things from coming a total bore in the vastness of nothingness that is the west. These side missions and interactions are plentiful and enough to create a much needed diversion from just driving on through the game to it's ultimate and inevitable showdown end.

Unless you have been living out on the frontier already... thanks to the press storm you may already know the hero of our western tale. Mr. John Marston. Our hero is a partially reformed outlaw, who finally after several years with a vicious outlaw gang, wanted to carve out a more peaceful future for himself. Now with a new family the last thing he would be thinking of was the past coming back to haunt him and threaten all that he holds dear. One day the bureau pay Marston a visit, take his family into custody and force him to track down his old gang. The point? To bring the old gang members to justice.

The romp back into the old days is tinged with the wonders of advancing history. The new is nudging away the old ways of life in the wilds of the west. Marston's adventure stretches across three huge territories. New Austin, which is a frontier kind of area. Southward across the raging river into the Mexican border lands of Nuevo Paraiso, and also in the Northwest and West Elizabeth, this area is becoming the template for what is to be modern American cities.

Traveling through the areas, players may be pleasantly surprised by the the regional culture differences that are represented so well. The world does not feel static at all, life goes on around the player and dynamic events take place. Be those animal attacks, hold ups of stage coaches or hangings, raids, robberies or even something as simple as some one playing fetch with a dog. The most spectacular thing about all this is the re-playability possibilities here. Players can choose to take sides in these events. Either by helping the victims, or even assisting the outlaws. So have a go through the game as a n Angel, then have a go through as The Badman. See how the game plays out.

What the player does in the world has a baring on how the characters in that world react to them. Honor can go up or down depending on how the player behaves. Saving travelers or ranchers from bandits, capturing a criminal alive rather than dead increases the player characters honor. Players can of course take the low road and rob, murder and pillage across the land and their honor will drop like a stone.

Honor has far reaching effects on the game and interaction during the game, shopkeepers, the common folk or law enforcement responds differently depending on how high or low the player characters honor is.

Honor can fluctuate during the game, fame on the other hand only increases with everything the player character does. Word spreads of the characters deeds or miss-deeds. This opens up new opportunities. Either folks will be knowing the character name and saying a kind “Howdy Mr. Marston.” or if it's a bad rep perhaps they may be challenging Mr. Marston to a duel.

John Marston has a bit of an edge that helps him stay alive in this dangerous world. Call it bullet time, time freeze, so many other novel titles. For red Dead Redemption it's called the Dead Eye Targeting System. It slows down the world around the player in order for them to pull off some pretty amazing shots, including taking out multiple targets.

Red Dead Redemption uses a customized hybrid of both Euphoria Physics and the Rockstar Advanced Game Engine, developed by Rockstar San Diego for this title. Other titles in Rockstar's catalog have benefited from this game engine since then. We can see it in Midnight Club Los Angeles, as well as Grand Theft Auto IV. Every character be it human, or animal all react more life like thanks to this game engine.

One of the things may of us here at Impulse Gamer U.S.A. Where wanting to see, where how well the horses handle. How they looked how they reacted. The horse especially was a huge part of the times. Rockstar did pretty darn well with it. The horses look and react amazingly. We where a little let down that you can't get your horse to back up. Though that is more of a thing you train a horse to do. For Red Dead Redemption the horses turn around , they cannot be made to back up. The natural locomotion of horses is very well done. Rockstar seems to excel in research, and implementation of their finding show in their games. The natural gaits of horses is represented in the game, those being (In order of increasing speeds) Walk, Trot, Canter, and Gallop. Granted that in some horses various other speeds may happen naturally in some horses, those basic natural gaits take place all across horse breeds. From riding a horse, to driving a wagon, the horses in Red Dead Redemption are very realistic representations of how the horse moves in real life. Well done Rockstar, well done.

Voice acting, some may think is a small part of a game. Voice acting is something that either get's a player into the world, or worse...never let's them enter the world or the story that's trying to be told there. Never doubt, voice acting, is actual acting not just making funny voices. It's a skill that takes some time to cultivate. To deliver those lines like they are the most natural thing. To feel it and convey it, to make that character a living breathing being. Rockstar has always seemed to cast dead bang on in their titles. The high quality expected and delivered across the board. So it is, with Red Dead Redemption. Each character brings about a different quality to the world, each characters point of view to the world relayed through the voice. All of the voice acting here makes it a believable world. The cast is huge and would not be practical to list them all, just take a look in the back of the manual and appreciate what they bring to this title. As well as the dialogue director Rod Edge, no small thing to orchestrate it all together into a artistic piece of entertainment that relays the look and feel of what the script and story are going for.

This holds true also for the sound track, from the classic old west sounds some are used to from films, to simple lead in's and character specific themes. Red Dead Redemption's sound track brings on the feeling and depth to the visuals that play out in front of us.

The single player experience is masterful, it does not end there. In Red Dead Redemption, it's a Free Roam world, a lot like the single player experience. Only characters running and gunning around are thinking people. With a mother load of multiplayer game types spread through out the world...players can jump into any of these game types at any time. Rather than a typical game lobby players get together in Free Roam and form up posses. It's all interactive and all a blast.

Along with co-operative play there is of course the competitive multiplayer experience with various game types. From the standard team death match, and deathmatch free for all, and a western twist kind of capture the flag...only with a bag of gold. It's a big world and Rockstar delivers it up for our gaming pleasure.

Like any game there are bound to be a few graphical anomalies, some clipping here and there takes place which is no big deal. This happens with the Xbox 360 versions and PS3 versions. I did have a crash with the 360 version that took place twice, when challenged to a dual. Stepping up to the X to start the dual, the game crashed to a dark screen and would not recover. The event could not be duplicated. On other game bug that took place was during a story mission with the sheriff of Armadillo, this story mission was well written and well executed with plenty of tactical choices for this hostage situation...but the second time trying it (After a hostage was killed) the hostage was killed again...but the game would not reset the mission. All the NPC characters stood in place not moving, waiting for me to do something more....but the bad guys and a hostage was already dead. So I had to set my self afire by shooting a lantern and died....then the mission restarted and I completed it. I did re try this a couple more times but could not duplicate the bug again.

(I'll say one thing, that scripting and the way Rockstar designed that mission...with the hostages and the bad guys and so many tactical choices, made me know that Rockstar could pull off a Police or SWAT kind of game and nail it very well. Drool , Drool.)

The over all look of Red Dead Redemption seems pretty much the same across the two platforms. Our U.S staff tended more towards the 360 version, the colors seemed to pop more for some reason and also the game can go up to 1080P for the Xbox 360 version, where is as the PS3 is in 720P. Performance and looks aside, it really comes down to player preference as to what version they would like to get. How many of your friends have which platform so you can team up and have a blast in multiplayer?

How ever you go, either with the Xbox360 or PS3 version. Red Dead Redemption is more than just some basic concepts with a new coat of paint. Standing on it's own two feet, with out comparing it to anything else from Rockstar's past games...(Because of course something years later sure as heck should be better.).....Red Dead Redemption is a stellar game. Such a basic concept brought to quality heights by the sum of it's pieces and how they mesh together. Sure some of the acts and side missions may smack of representativeness, but there is enough there to balance it out to a truly enjoyable gaming experience.

Have fun, play games
Edwin Millheim
United States Editor
Impulse Gamer


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