6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Game of the Year,
This review is from: Red Dead Redemption (PS3) (Video Game)
GTA with horses may seem like a lazy description, but it's pretty accurate for the opening hours of Red Dead Redemption. Missions are located by markers on the map, saving advances time 6 hours. Personally, it took a while to get going, and has a more languorous pace than Rockstar's flagship series. However, John Marston's story is epic, with a dark, bleak tone that few developers can achieve, and culminates in one of the greatest endings in recent memory.
Redemptions true depth isn't immediately obvious; the map is huge but seemingly empty. This is because many events are experienced firsthand, meaning the location has to be visited and explored. This gives a fantastic sense of discovery; stranger missions are a fine example of this. Random world events do suffer from repetition, but overall it's well varied.
The ecosystem is another subtle addition. Around 30 species of animal are located throughout the map, wolves are the most common, but bears, ducks and even boars can be hunted at the right locations. Animals can be skinned for meat and pelt, which in turn can be sold at stores. Flowers and herbs can also be picked and sold. Ambient challenges include Hunting and Survivalist (in addition to Sharpshooter and Treasure Hunter), which exploits these aspects into rewards. Mini-games also include Horseshoes, Five Finger Fillet, Arm Wrestling, Liars Dice, Blackjack and Poker. Story missions can be replayed in a similar style to Episodes from Liberty City. Rankings are also achieved, but replacing the brutally difficult % scoring is a medal system, which is more forgiving. Whilst not essential for anything, it is nice to be able to replay favourite missions. There are some wonderfully eccentric trophies. One for exterminating a species and another for tying a woman to the train tracks. Some of the trophy titles illustrate Rockstar's brilliantly twisted sense of humour. E.g. `Heading south on a white bronco' seems like a reference to O.J. Simpsons infamous car chase.
The online aspect is very tight. Finding a decent match is a chore sometimes, but friends can be located with ease and the whole experience is lag free. The wealth of game types is impressive. Free roam allows the player to wander the landscape, just like single player. Posses can be created with friends and encountered players, who can then fight together in the different game modes. Lobbies have been created with care and attention; the avatars all congregate at a specific area of the map. The tendency is to start a mass brawl whilst waiting for the game to load, which is infinitely more fun than cold, clinical menu screens. The free to download co-op pack, `Outlaws to the End' has just been released, adding 6 online missions. A further 4 DLC packs are set for release this year, and will ensure Red Dead remains a massive online presence for the foreseeable future.
The western setting has rarely been attempted (and never successfully) before, which makes Redemption such a unique experience. Absolutely essential.