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Not quite what I was expecting.
on 1 July 2010
I`m old(ish). I`ve played a fair few games over the past 25 years. I am quite hard to please (I admit that), but I think the following review is honest and fair.
RDR was highly anticipated, and got some great reviews. I`m not a fan of cowboy films or the Wild West theme, but the prospects for this game sounded good, so I took the plunge. Earlier today I finished the solo campaign, and I feel strongly enough about it to write this review.
First of all, I can`t fault the presentation (well I can, a little, I`ll get back to that). The gameworld is quite fantastic. Not only is the playing area very large, it`s also very detailed and lifelike. The people and animals that inhabit the area all behave in a very realistic manner. The buildings and landscapes, not to mention the weather conditions are also modelled in a very realistic way. It does go a long way to making you feel like you are part of the world where the action takes place, rather than playing a videogame. Sound effects are also of a high standard. Two gripes with the presentation are that there is some degree of slowdown in a few places, the framerate can drop quite a lot for more than a second or two. The other issue is that I sometimes find controlling "Mr Marston" a little frustrating when trying to go through a narrow door or through a gap. I suppose it`s just one of those "3rd person" things.
Now the bad news. The gameplay can be fun, but only for a while. After a few hours of play (the first few hours are good, as you get used to the controls, admire the graphics, and start to collect weapons and other items), I realised that it was too easy and slightly repetitive. The cut-scenes and travelling on horseback to mission locations is OK for a while, but sometimes I spent more time travelling than "doing". The missions are often quite dull, more often than not you just have to follow the line to the location and shoot a few people, which becomes quite easy once you`ve got the "auto-aim" perk. Maybe I could have switched that off, but it would probably become too difficult, as you can get killed fairly quickly if you are outnumbered. The dialogue with other characters is good, I did want to listen to people and follow the plot, but eventually I started to get a little bored with it, probably because of the propspect of another mediocre mission. There were one or two tasks that were a little bit more interesting, but there certainly isn`t enough challenge or variety for me.
I really think Rockstar missed a trick here. For the first half of the game I found myself doing the "loot body" thing to collect as much $$$ as possible, expecting to require the cash to purchase items to help me complete the tasks. I collected plants, animal skins etc, assuming that I would need to trade these items to obatain more $$$ or other useful stuff. In the end, I didn`t need to spend hardly any money, and only did a couple of deals in the stores. OK, I could have used some money to gamble, and try to obtain more money, but I didn`t need to. I could have sold animal skins and meat, but didn`t need to. Quite simply, there wasn`t anything challenging about this game. I would have liked to have seem Mr Marston needing to take water with him on his cross desert treks. Water would have to be paid for, or obtained from a river or stream, otherwise he`d keel over before he finished his mission. Instead of simply riding across country, then shooting the baddies, why didn`t I have to work out where the baddies were hiding, or having to obtain materials to fix a broken bridge or wheel on my cart ? Some "puzzle" elements would have transformed this avarage game into a really good one. It`s a pity that they put a lot of work into the gameworld, but not so much into the gameplay. Also, I expected the ending to become a little more difficult, and slightly more exciting, but it finished with a bit of a whimper, and I was just glad to get the game finished.
I`ve only "messed around" in the multiplayer game, so i`ll be brief. It`s fun (me and a couple of mates just go around completing the gang hiedouts, and sometimes doing battle with other human players). It can be annoying when other human players keep shooting you, when you just want to make your way to the next hideout. I also find the multiplayer options and modes quite confusing, the manual doesn`t explain much about the muliplayer games (maybe we`re expected to work it out for ourselves, but I must be too thick, or impatient). We`ve also found multiplayer quite "glitchy" with other players flying around, invisible enemies shooting from underground etc. I would mind the multiplayer mode being "just OK", if the single player mode was very good, but it simply isn`t.
It`s certainly not a really bad game, but I never found it very exciting or addictive, there simply wasn`t enough for me to want to rush home to play it. In fact, I didn`t play the single player game for at least 2 weeks after the first week. I`ve seen plenty of 9/10 rave reviews for this game, I`d say it deserves 7/10. Maybe I expect too much ?