Red Dead Redemption 2: The New Gold Standard
Not very often does a game come out and completely change the landscape of gaming. Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t just set the bar for games of its creed, it is the bar.
Red Dead 2 was released on the 26th of October to the largest opening in entertainment history, and rightfully so. I was initially hesitant on playing Red Dead, as i had never been a fan of cowboys or open world games. However, when I first sat down to play it, I realized something, it isn’t any of those things. Yes, there are cowboys and an open world but it’s more than that, it’s a rich, engrossing, emotional story. This game fully embodies the gold standard of today’s video games, it’s a complete experience from the gameplay to the story it encompasses everything a video game strives to be.
Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place in 1899, the twilight of the old west. You take control of Arthur Morgan an orphan turned outlaw by his adoptive father figure Dutch Van Der Linde. From there you adventure around the five fictitious states of New Hanover, Ambarino, Lemoyne, New Austin, and West Elizabeth.
This all sets the stage for a grand epic reminiscent of the classic era of western cinema. The story comes in around over 60 hours, and all of them are worth the time. Pacing is a strong suit of this title just like it’s Old west entertainment predecessor it takes a good amount of time to build tension, but when released the payoff is swift and impactful. I’m not going to go into much detail about the events that unfold in the story, they’re better to play through than to read about so I strongly encourage any readers to pick up a copy. Nevertheless, this game is filled to the brim with shining examples of a compelling narrative.
Red dead 2 bolsters it’s supporting cast with memorable characters such as Hosea Matthews, or Charles Smith. The characters in this game feel as if though they’re real. Their emotion and actions are all logical given their specific personalities. Take for example Sadie Adler, a woman who lost any sense of normality when her husband was killed. She later joins the Van Der Linde gang and is quickly unsatisfied with her position in camp, helping Pearson, the camp cook.
When her husband was alive they would share all the work whether it be laundry or plowing the field. To reclaim the only thing left after her husband died she decided she wanted to share all the work not just helping out at camp. She wanted to ride with the men and stand side by side with them, not because she wanted to show them she could run with the boys but to reclaim the last shred of normalcy left in her life.
The Theme of Red Dead 2 resonates throughout the entire game from adhering to nothing but story missions to aimlessly wandering the world. The consequences to your actions will always catch up with you. Personally, the consequences of my early game massacre of Valentine and every person I saw on the road caught up to me quickly in the form of a 300 dollar bounty and hordes of bounty hunters coming for me at every turn.
This theme is carried heavily through the story in the form of outlaws in a quickly changing society having to pay their dues as their time comes to an end, this payment is usually only satisfied by blood.
Tonally Red Dead Redemption 2 feels like a gritty, realistic 1899. The small details this game takes note of really play off the time period. Cleanliness and health weren’t of the highest standard back then so this game doesn’t really offer you many options to take care of those things.
Getting dirty will happen and it’ll negatively affect you and your horse. More people in this game drink liquor before noon than they can actually spell the word water. The only thing I can think of that breaks the tone is when you get bored and decide to dead eye a guy in the crotch 12 times, but that’s just a bit of fun. The game is very true to the tone of an Old Western.
This may be one of the most well-rounded games in recent memory. The performances given for most characters are truly remarkable, and the dialogue fits the time period with its use of slang and accents. On top of the brilliant writing and performance is the visuals. They are completely stunning from the snowy mountains in The Grizzlies to the swamplands of Lemoyne Red Dead 2 is awe-inspiring to look at. This may be one of the best-looking games of all time. There are 300,000 animations and 500,00 lines of dialogue, Rockstar poured everything they had into this game for an experience players would love and I think they surpassed every expectation.
I want to talk about one specific mission in this game so it might get a little spoiler full. The mission is called Blood Feuds, Ancient, and Modern. This mission starts with the realization that Jack, John Marston’s son has been kidnapped by the Braithwaite family.
This sends the entire gang into full-on badass murder mode, the entirety of the Van Der Linde gang rides to the Braithwaite manor and a small discussion is abruptly ended by a gunfight. Dutch, Arthur, Hosea, and the other members tear through the Braithwaites and end a lineage of inbreeding and crime. This mission may be one of the best examples of this game’s excellence.
The score during the tense but swift conversation is reminiscent of the moments before the duels began in old spaghetti westerns. The conversations the gang have on the way to the manor are of vitriol and revenge. When the action kicks off it’s not just killing for the sake of killing, it has weight behind it, it has the life of a young boy on the line. Standing side by side the camera pans out to show everyone in complete unity and understanding of what they have to do right before the first trigger is pulled. This mission captures the essence of Red Dead like lighting in a bottle, a truly amazing spectacle.
If I had to pick out the things I didn’t like about this game the list would be minuscule but mind you this game isn’t perfect. My biggest issue is mainly a personal preference with the game, things in the game take a lot of time whether it be the animations, or traveling from one location to the next. After 40 hours of gameplay, I don’t have the patience to sit around while Arthur loots his victims. However, that’s just my opinion I just prefer a quicker pace. I haven’t run into many bugs or glitches in my own experiences, but I do have an issue sometimes while riding. I’ve been thrown from my horse on a number of occasions where I’m just trying to trot my way down the road and my horse just decides to run head first into a tree, but that’s just a small gripe. As a whole, I think the difference between this game being perfect and amazing is personal preference
Red Dead Redemption 2 will be remembered not only as one of the greatest games of all time but for the way it absolutely shifted the landscape for video games.