Red Dead Redemption II review8th January 2019
In October 2018, Rockstar released Red Dead Redemption II, a long-awaited third entry to the Red Dead franchise. The game, eight-years-in-the making, is a prequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption.
Quite simply, it deserves all the praise it gets, it’s an exceptional 11/10 game. That it lost out to Fortnite for 2018’s Game of the Year 2018 is criminal.
I was trying to wait to finish the entire game before I wrote this review but there is so much to do: 6 chapters are set in 1899, while 2 epilogues, set later in 1907, bridge the game with the first one.
Rockstar does not waste any time grabbing your attention, throwing you straight into the game. You play a bandit named Arthur Morgan, a member of the Dutch Van Der Linde gang who are escaping the law after a robbery in Black Water goes terribly wrong.
Over time, you and the gang settle down in different parts of country, causing havoc wherever you go, from robbing stagecoaches and trains to shooting up entire towns. There are over 104 missions, each feeling unique and well thought out; the game may feel slow at points but you are always rewarded with a huge gun fight.
You don’t have to play each mission one after the other, you could wait a bit and cause some havoc of you own; with many side missions and strange characters inhabiting the wild west, there is plenty to do: you can hunt for animals or bounties, go fishing, or even shopping.
The story and the characters reel you in and you do get attached to them and their unique personalities. The game gives you a lot of choice in your interactions with them and often there’s a decision of whether to kill them or let them live.
At the start of the game I let a lot of people live, but by the end I was choosing to execute a lot of them, usually because of what they had done to the other characters; in a way the game is putting the player on the same path as the gang leader Dutch, who kills for those he loves, but takes it too far.
As Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel, so many fan favourites from the first game, such as John Marston, Bill Williamson, Javier Escuella, and of course, Dutch Van Der Linde, its antagonist, make appearances. You get to experience what it was like to ride with the gang when luck was in their favour, before plans failed and the law caught up to them.
Even though the game is set 12 years before the first one, it does a good job of explaining how the gang fell out and sets up the first game perfectly.
The graphics are amazing and capture the American countryside perfectly: each shot of the mountains, sky, trees and animals looks realistic, while the faces on the characters have an incredible amount of detail on them. The attention to detail in getting all 200 different species of birds, fish and mammals shows the level of care with which this game was made.
When you are finished in story mode after completing everything, there’s even more: Red Dead Online is a new multiplayer aspect to the game and something Red dead fans have been wanting for a long time. It’s a lot like GTA online and the concept is brilliant: join a gang with your friends and go about making money and become the biggest criminals in the West.
However, like GTA online, the game itself is great but it falls foul of human nature: every player wants nothing else but to murder you and kill your horse, so if you can get past dying – a lot – you will be fine.
Sound design 9/10