“Red Dead Redemption 2” has hit the ground running in terms of sales and critical reception.
It was published by Rockstar Games, who have a track record for producing some of the most influential and iconic games of the 21st century (I’m looking at you Grand Theft Auto). In recent years, Rockstar’s “Red Dead” series has started to gain significant recognition. The original “Red Dead Redemption” was released back in 2010, and today it’s considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time. This is due in part to its unconventional, western story and unique gameplay.
“Red Dead Redemption 2” takes place 10 years before the events of the first game. Players step into the shoes of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw who is a part of a notorious gang that operates within the fictional regions of New Hanover and West Elizabeth.
Players can set off on adventures in a vast open world that’s filled with interesting characters and engaging side quests.
The player is constantly confronted with in-game choices that affect how NPCs (non-playable characters) react to Morgan. Will you strive to make him a hero of the west, or turn him into a dastardly villain? The choice is yours.
Interlaced with these choices, there is a compelling story for the player to enjoy along the way. Similar to GTA, the “Red Dead” series critiques western culture and the tragedy of the American dream. “Red Dead Redemption 2” is a story about a man who comes to the scary realization that the world he thought he knew, is rapidly changing, and he questions whether or not he can earn a place in this new world. That’s where the central theme of redemption comes in.
Besides the storyline, the gameplay itself is incredibly immersive and expansive. You can play poker, blackjack, dominoes, go fishing, customize horses, go hunting, shave your hair, buy clothes, and you can even give Morgan a bath. The whole “taking a bath” thing might seem strange, but it actually pays off to keep Morgan smelling fresh, because if he stinks too much, you can actually cause animals to run away when you’re hunting them.
One of my all time favorite gameplay elements is the “Dead-Eye” system. During a gunfight, you press down on the right toggle stick and everything goes into slow motion, Max Payne-style. I loved using this all the time in the first game, because it makes you feel so cool when you rack-up all those headshots.
At first though, I had strong dislike for the dead-eye system in the second game. For some reason in the beginning of the game, dead-eye automatically marks your target points for you, which makes it a lot more tricky to go for a clean, lethal headshot. I don’t want to riddle the enemies in bullet holes, I want to take them down as quickly and cleanly as possible.
Fortunately, the dead-eye skill progresses, and you can eventually mark the targets yourself without any assistance from the game, which is what I prefer. It makes the game more challenging and rewarding.
Another small problem I had with the game is actually an issue that is present in numerous other Rockstar games. There are times when the game is trying to give you tutorial information during the middle of a tense gameplay sequence. For instance, the game decided to teach me how to draw my revolver from my holster while I was in the middle of a real-time gun duel. It can be difficult to read the small text box in the corner of the screen while you’re in the heat of action.