Video games are becoming larger than ever before, both in size and popularity, so is it any wonder that 100 hour work weeks were put into the amazing Red Dead Redemption 2? Ever since video games first became mainstream, they’ve been constantly improving, going from 8-bit adventures to 3D odysseys, with graphics that looks unbelievably realistic. But now that video games are on a stylistic level similar to that of movies, game developers are starting to create games with a similar story prowess. This is the case with Red Dead Redemption 2, which is a prequel to the hit original game. So, does this very realistic and plot driven approach lead to a fulfilling experience, that’s also a fulfilling video game?
Taking place in 1889, Red Dead Redemption 2 follows Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang, a group of outlaws who have recently been run out of their home of Blackwater with out their money. Dutch, the leader of the gang, sees that civilization is advancing, and that soon their outlaw way of life won’t be viable. So, the gang starts collecting money to escape the law and finally retire.
As Arthur you act on different missions to help the gang, whether it be taking out rival groups like the O’Driscolls, or pulling of heists to bring money back to your camp. The story is easily the best part of the game, with every character being well written, and having realistic traits and actions for the time period. All the performances are great as well, especially Roger Clark as Arthur Morgan, who won the Best Performance Game Award for his role.
While Red Dead Redemption 2 does have the storytelling scale greater than many movies, it also has the benefit of being able to immerse the player with its great gameplay. There are two major gameplay features, which aren’t necessarily exclusive, those being movement and combat.
Movement is quite important, as you’ll constantly have to cross the gigantic map to complete missions. You can either run as Arthur, who isn’t too fast and doesn’t have much stamina, purchase (or steal) a horse for fast, fluid, and free movement, or even steal a train for really fast but restricted movement.
Combat is the other large part of gameplay, whether it be duels, bar fights, or random encounters. There are tons of items at your disposal, from guns and bow and arrows to lassos and TNT. The variety of weapon choices, as well as the special Dead eye feature (which slows down time to help players aim their weapons), helps keep combat fresh throughout the game. It’s also super fun to try completing scenarios with different weapons than recommended, such as using a bow and arrow when raiding an enemy camp instead of a shotgun, as it can help make you think about how to differently approach the scenario.
While the main focus of the game is on its story mode, its filled to the brim with additional distractions. There are 200 animals to be hunted, dozens of outfits to be made, many side missions which can be completed for cash or other rewards, and an open world that can be host to tons of adventures. You’ll easily discover a half-dozen things you’ve probably never seen while riding between missions, and sometimes they’ll be interesting enough to pull you out of your mission just to check it out.
The 100 hour work weeks put into the game really show when you look at the gorgeous environments, which look insanely realistic. As you explore the Wild West you’ll go through harsh deserts, lush forests, grimy swamps, and many more environments. Each area has different plants and animals based on of they could actually be found there, in addition to some animals which exist everywhere. However, as you go through the different environments you’ll also stumble upon houses and towns, all chock full of people you can talk to, antagonize, or complete missions for.
However, while Red Dead Redemption 2 is great in many aspects, there are a few areas in which the game falls flat. One of the biggest examples of this is the pacing of the game, pertaining mostly to the story. One minute you’ll be pulling off a heist to get a station wagon, the next you’ll be (slowly) riding into a town alongside someone, all to go talk to someone, which can totally break the pace you’ve just made through doing a large event. Granted, these story sections do help flesh out the characters, but the point still stands, as these do stop all momentum.
But when it comes to momentum, nothing forces a screeching halt like the time moving from one location to another on horseback. While playing the game you’ll constantly go back and forth between locations, which can take about a minute or two, or it could take about ten minutes. This is without considering the fact that while you’re riding, you can be just by bounty hunters, have people try to rob you, or see people that you can, and should, help.
Also, you should probably make a riding playlist, because if you’re not in a mission, you’ll be hearing mostly horse neighing and hoofs hitting the ground. Red Dead has a great score, it even won an award for it, but the fact that it isn’t used in many sections of the game feels like a waste. While there’s something to be said about ambiance in a game, there are some small things that could have helped keep players engaged in these sections, which make up a large part of the overall game.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is the perfect cowboy game, as it nails the story, gameplay, and overall atmosphere of the Wild West. While there are some problems with the game, they aren’t large enough to hurt the game too much, and the expansive combat and extensive story help elevate this game to another level.