Wednesday, 17 May 2017

First Impressions: Red Dead Redemption

I picked up Red Dead Redemption last year for about £2, with it being on my list to play for years before, although I'd never gotten round to actually playing it. I decided to jump into it now to give some more flavour to the very RPG based games I've been playing at the moment (Horizon: Zero Dawn, Dark Souls, Pokémon Moon and The Witcher 2) and I'm glad I did, as it has impressed me so far. Here are my first impressions from around 2 hours of game time:

I started knowing a little bit about the plot, namely that I'm an outlaw turned good guy who's been tasked by the government to kill some other outlaws otherwise they'd hurt my family (that's all on the blurb) and I'm glad because the opening does sort of throw you in a bit, with you overhearing some *ahem* interesting views by the new locals going to claim the Wild West and then suddenly going to an outlaw camp and proceeding to get shot.

Don't worry, you're saved by Bonnie MacFarlane (a classic Wild West name if I've ever heard one) and set to work repaying her for the $15 of medical bills needed to extract a bullet from your chest. All of this story is given in plain, regular speech (credits to the writing team for making all the characters believable at the moment) but what I especially love about all the conversations between John Marston and his compatriots is how polite they are to each other. Far removed from the GTA swearathon I'm used to by Rockstar, instead, we have a four-sentence conversation where Bonnie and John apologise to each other for potentially insinuating things. It just made it all seem more real and the simple act of saying Miss MacFarlane etc. made me like the characters a lot quicker than in GTA.

I've also been very impressed with the voice acting of the game as I went in expecting 'gruff anti-hero number 3' with John but instead got someone with actual expression in their voice. Don't get me wrong, characters like Geralt or Adam Jensen are great, especially for role playing, but in Red Dead I've started to feel like I'm encountering real people (similar to GTA) and that feels good. Early on in the game I also encountered my new favourite way to sum up some protagonists in games, said by Bonnie - 'you are being deliberately obscure as a substitute for having a personality'.

Another thing I've been impressed with are the environments, with sweeping vistas and varied landscapes (as much as is possible in a desert like landscape) as well as intricately detailed towns, none of which feels out of place or there for 'mechanics'. You are given the option early on to rest at camps and so fast travel to places you've been to, saving you a long journey. I've only done this once, and that's because I was in a hurry, otherwise, I've preferred to just get on my horse and ride to the destination, taking in the environments. That's not to say this is the most graphically impressive game, it is from 2010 after all, but the art style has its own charm to it which absorbs you. The mouths move in sync with what's being spoken as well which is a welcome change to the RPG's I've been playing!

Horses are like the cars in GTA - central to the gameplay and traversing, with finely tuned physics until you suddenly veer off the side of a canyon. So far I've found the horses a pleasure to ride, especially when with other people as you can hold X (on PlayStation) to ride at the same pace as them, allowing you to keep pace with them and not miss any details of story by accidentally getting to the destination before they've finished speaking (a particular pet hate of mine), and the animation is crisp and realistic (unlike Marston running). Of course, it wouldn't be a Rockstar game without some slightly odd physics, as I suddenly careen into a cliff or off a cavern (BOTW would be having a panic attack - 'horses don't run into trees!'

In terms of missions, I've arrested an outlaw, killed a bounty (it wouldn't allow me to capture them), herded cattle, accidentally steering some off a cliff, lassoed some horses, gathered some flowers and investigated some missing people. All of these missions felt alive and unique, and I felt no annoyances completing them (besides not being able to capture the bounty for some reason). One slight annoyance I have with the game is the way it posts tutorials - in the top left of the screen as people are talking, meaning I had to constantly go into my brief and read the dialogue again as I'd missed some while I was reading about 'saving at a house'.

Conclusion: overall, I've really enjoyed my time with Red Dead Redemption and it's likeable cast of characters and can't wait to see how it plays out, especially as the stories start to pick up the pace and I also have all the DLC to help and play around with.

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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