Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

Red Dead Redemption was released back in 2010 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, and to this day is considered by many to be one of the greatest video games of all time. The open-world concept, activities spread across a map that’s as big as Texas, fun combat system, and an unforgettable story made it a game that will be remembered for years.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review
Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

Rockstar has crafted yet another addition to their Red Dead series with Red Dead Redemption 2 , but does it live up to the expectations set by its predecessor?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed.

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After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee.

With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.

With a story that’s deep and rewarding and characters that feel truly alive, it’s an experience unlike any other. Some gameplay quirks hold it back from perfection, but with such fantastic missions, incredible writing and stellar performances from the entire cast, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an instant classic.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 could have been a simple cash-in on the first game’s success, but instead it’s a remarkable achievement.

It tells a complete story on its own but also serves as a prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption that explores the pasts of many characters you met in that game. It has some odd design decisions and gameplay elements that can be frustrating at times, but beyond those issues is a world that feels alive in ways few other games manage to match.

The star of the show is Arthur Morgan (Roger Clark), who serves as both protagonist and narrator for most of the story. He’s one of the members of Dutch van der Linde’s gang (the same one John Marston was part of in Red Dead Redemption).

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It’s the kind of game that sets a new standard for the entire industry. It breaks new ground for the open world genre, with a level of immersion, interactivity and detail that’s almost unimaginable. From bottling your own moonshine to playing poker in saloons, from completing main story missions to responding to random events across the land, you can do just about anything you could imagine doing in the Wild West.

It also tells a deeply personal story about Arthur Morgan, who is more than just an outlaw on the run from the law — he’s someone trying to find his place in this world as it’s rapidly changing around him.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a masterpiece. It’s an epic, emotional, occasionally thought-provoking, and surprisingly funny story that takes around 60 hours to complete. There are dozens of memorable characters, and it’s set in an astonishingly beautiful recreation of the Wild West.

You can play it as a violent power fantasy if you want, but I found myself settling into its slow pace and just taking things as they come.

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It’s a gorgeous game that pays close attention to detail, even in the smallest moments. There are certain things about Red Dead Redemption 2 that are annoying — like how long it takes for Arthur to turn around or how stiff he feels when you try and push him into a gallop — but these gripes melt away when you consider how rarely you see games this ambitious.

Storyline

The game’s open world is simply staggering; the sheer amount of things to do, places to go and people to see is a testament to Rockstar’s time-honed ability to craft living, breathing worlds. It’s slow and plodding in areas — especially in the early going — but everything you encounter feels like it has a purpose.

And while it’s not as immediately engaging as Grand Theft Auto 5’s Los Santos, Red Dead Redemption 2’s vast and varied Wild West setting makes for an excellent playground for the cowboy life.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place at the tail end of the Wild West era. You play as Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch van der Linde’s outlaw gang – a loose collection of misfits who believe in freedom and living life outside the law. In 1899, America is changing rapidly, due in large part to the industrial revolution, which is forcing out ranches and small farming towns across the country.

The government no longer turns a blind eye to outlaws running rampant in its territories, with U.S. marshals bringing down some of America’s most infamous gangs at the time.

It’s a pace that takes some getting used to, but it’s also one of Red Dead Redemption 2’s greatest strengths. This is a world with its own internal logic and rules, not one that just bends to your whims.

As you drink in the sights and sounds of the gorgeous world around you, such as the swaying grasslands or the crisp autumnal forests, the game encourages you to appreciate every last detail. The story is partly what you make of it; every side quest, every hunt or random encounter with strangers is as much a part of Arthur Morgan’s life as any big mission.

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It’s worth noting that some players may be alienated by Red Dead Redemption 2’s insistence on realism, especially when it comes to its control scheme.

The game often makes you press the button for any action multiple times — for instance, three times for Arthur to mount his horse — and this can feel frustratingly slow when you’re in a hurry. (You can change how quickly he mounts his horse from the settings menu.)

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While you’re exploring the open world, which eventually expands to include several regions like swamps and plains, your interactions with other characters are limited to talking and shooting.

It’s a story that’s very deliberately paced, but it’s also a story full of memorable characters and some great surprises. The main cast is diverse and each character has their own personality and role to play. Some of the supporting roles are better than others, but even the less interesting ones have their place in the world.

Red Dead Redemption 2’s base camp is a hub for your interactive companions and it helps you track your progress and supplies. There are upgrades to craft, horses to train, weapons to modify and tons of little secrets to uncover.

It’s a space that feels more alive than previous open-world games thanks in large part to the fact that it’s shared with a ton of different characters who all have their own schedules. You can watch them go about their business or you can take part in activities like poker or fishing with them, all of which will affect how they feel about you.

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You may catch one of them practicing his draw out by the fire or having a heart-to-heart with another member of the gang. It feels like an organic community, not just another waypoint on your map.

It is a deeply introspective game, constantly nudging you to consider your actions and how they affect other people. It starts from the very first scene, where protagonist Arthur Morgan is tasked with robbing a train with his gang of outlaws, including Dutch Van Der Linde (the star of Red Dead Redemption).

But before the gang strikes, we see a random man get brutally beaten for having nothing to give the outlaws. The game then takes the time to let you witness the aftermath of this act: the man’s wife screaming in agony over his body, and an innocent woman crying over her dead husband.

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It’s clear that Rockstar wants players to feel conflicted about this kind of violence — especially since they have control over whether it happens or not.

Gameplay

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game’s vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience.

America, 1899. The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed.

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After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive.

As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.

From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age.

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Valentine is at the heart of the game’s first chapter, and I found it to be a great introduction to Arthur and the Van der Linde gang. The dialogue is sharp and believable, and you’ll find plenty to do in town. You can play a game of poker or dominoes, take on a stranger quest (the side missions), visit the post office, or simply enjoy the scenery. If you’re looking for some action, head outside of town where you’ll find gangs of enemy outlaws who are just looking for a gunfight.

It’s almost overwhelming how much there is to do in Red Dead Redemption 2. It’s an enormous game that will take weeks to complete, but despite its daunting length, I never felt like I was grinding through it.

The story missions are engaging, and it’s fun just roaming around seeing what you can find. When you do get tired of exploring, there are plenty of distractions to keep you entertained; poker, blackjack, five-finger fillet (a knife game), and others will keep you occupied until your next mission starts.

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Red Dead Redemption 2’s world is huge. There are three cities and a plethora of towns, villages, farms and settlements dotted across the map. They’re all fairly distinct from one another, too. Valentine is a bustling hub that sits near the centre of the map and is reminiscent of Saint Denis from Red Dead Redemption. It’s a melting pot of cultures and people, full of dark alleys and shady characters if you know where to look – plus it has a brothel in the basement of a saloon.

Saint Denis itself is similar on paper to the likes of New York or Boston; a grand city filled with skyscrapers that stand starkly against the skyline. However, it’s only really in its early stages of development at this point in time – you can see workers constructing buildings all over the place – which makes it feel more akin to London in Victorian times if anything.

The world around these cities feels as real as they do. I distinctly remember one mission taking me on horseback through a marshy area, where I stopped for a breather before carrying on my journey down to Saint Denis.

While you’re busy watching the NPCs act out their lives, you can participate in activities like hunting, fishing, poker and even five-finger fillet. It’s strange to think of these as “side activities” when they go on to become a crucial part of your means of survival.

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Hunting is easily one of the game’s most compelling highlights; it sounds like a simple mechanic, but nailing a perfect kill shot presents a satisfying sense of skill and accomplishment. There are hundreds of species to hunt, ranging from squirrels to mountain lions, each requiring different levels of care and attention.

You can simply sneak up behind prey and slit their throat or take advantage of dead eye –– the game’s bullet time ability –– and line up a headshot for an instant kill that also grants you maximum rewards.

In conjunction with hunting and fishing, cooking becomes another staple activity that serves a greater purpose: your health. Taking down animals is one thing, but gutting them and skinning them can be another entirely; if you don’t do it carefully enough, you’ll lose valuable meat and pelts that could have been sold for cash or used to craft items.

I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption 2 for a week now, and I still feel like I’m only just starting to scratch the surface of what might be the most detailed open world I’ve ever encountered. It’s not just that there are hundreds of things to do, but that they all fit together so naturally.

You can meet strangers on the road who will ask you to help them out with something specific, and then you can decide whether or not you want to help them out. If you do, you may have some choices about how to handle things at certain key moments.

There’s a moment in the final act of Red Dead Redemption 2 where I knew it was going to be the best game.

It’s towards the end of a mission titled ‘Magicians For Sport’, and the protagonist Arthur Morgan is tasked with escorting a woman named Sadie Adler to her late husband’s grave.

As they ride across the American frontier, their conversation turns towards the death of Arthur’s closest friend, Dutch Van Der Linde. It’s a dark topic for such an ostensibly light-hearted mission, but it serves to highlight a key tension within Rockstar’s latest blockbuster: that between loyalty and justice.

Dutch has led his gang into ruin as they flee across America following a botched heist. He’s determined to keep them together at all costs – even if that means doing some very bad things – but Arthur can see how this will end. He knows Dutch is doomed, and he knows that leaving him behind is the only way to save what remains of their gang.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is full of standout moments like this one, which serve not only to showcase Rockstar’s continued mastery of storytelling in video games, but also its ability

The Verdict

In the case of Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar have largely done well to resist temptation and build on their solid foundations – RDR1 was pretty much perfect from start to finish, so starting with that game’s framework should have been enough for most folk to feel like they got their money’s worth.

But thanks to a few more mechanics here and there, Rockstar have created a sandbox that encourages the player to slow down, soak in the atmosphere, and get lost inside a world that feels more realistic than ever before.

Despite the criticism, Red Dead Redemption 2’s story is a masterwork that deserves to be regarded as one of the greatest told in games. At times, I found myself thinking about it even when I was away from the game, and how I’d tackle certain situations next time.

The underlying systems are solid and largely enjoyable on their own. And I loved how the changes to more recent formula compared so favorably to what we saw in Red Dead Redemption – not just in gameplay, but in tone and characters as well. If you’re content to take your time with it, and if you value character development over straight-up spectacle and action, this is a wholly unique experience full of incredible stories to tell.

There’s a lot to love about RDR2 and I can’t wait to see how these dynamics will change in the weeks and months to come. I know many folk are yearning for Red Dead Redemption 2 multiplayer, but from an overall experience point of view, I think we’re looking at a very complete game as it is. Rockstar have done an incredible job of making something this vast, seamless, and detailed. RDR2 is something special indeed.

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