GAME REVIEW: Red Dead Redemption 2
RED Dead Redemption 2 is a sprawling Western tale of loyalty, conviction, and the price of infamy, chronicling the inevitable collapse of a motley crew of Wild West holdouts kicking against the slow march of civilization and industrialization.
Set in Rockstar’s most authentic and lived-in open world ever, there are so many things to do, so many people to meet, and so many places to explore it’s giddily overwhelming.
Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t just Rockstar’s greatest achievement to date; it’s a game so lacking in compromise it’s tough to know where best to start discussing it.
So let’s start at the beginning: It’s 1899 and American outlaws are an endangered species. Dutch van der Linde and his gang are on the run after a botched heist in the growing town of Blackwater and they’ve retreated high into the mountains where an atrocious blizzard is covering their escape.
We slip into the spurs of Arthur Morgan, an exceedingly cool and capable outlaw who was found by Dutch as a boy and raised on the wrong side of the law, and settle in for a roughly 60-hour story.
It’s a self-contained and linear introduction but it’s a clever one. The slick cinematics make a hell of first impression, embedding you in the gang and bringing you right up close to the characters who are doing their best to bellow over the howling wind.
It also placed me in a distraction-free bubble while I learned some of Red Dead Redemption 2’s early controls and systems, which heightened the impact of having the full map open up to me a few hours later.
Being set loose in the true open world after toughing it out in this intentionally oppressive environment really underscores the incredible feeling of freedom the full map offers.
And what a world it is; broader, more beautiful, and more varied than the one we explored in 2010’s Red Dead Redemption by a massive margin (though parts of that game’s map are also included).
The ability of this game to keep itself fresh after so many hours is extraordinary, and not entirely due to just the size and diversity of the world; it’s how alive all of those places feel.
The slower pace of Red Dead Redemption 2 compared to something like the slightly more breakneck GTA V is also a big part of how it encouraged me to drink in all the world has to offer.
Bodies have to be manually looted, and Arthur needs to physically manhandle a body to do so. Single-action pistols need to be cocked before firing.
Guns Arthur isn’t currently carrying need to retrieved from his saddle. Coffee needs to be brewed before drinking it.
The main story missions themselves are a cocktail of high-stakes heists, deadly shootouts, desperate rescues, and thrilling chases, mixed with a lengthy list of other activities.
Red Dead Redemption 2 stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Grand Theft Auto V as one of the greatest games of the modern age.
It’s a gorgeous depiction of an ugly period that’s patient, polished, and a huge amount of fun to play, and it’s combined with Rockstar’s best storytelling to date.
Even after finishing the lengthy story I can’t wait to go back and play more. This is a game of rare quality; a meticulously polished open world ode to the outlaw era.
Looking for one of this generation’s very best single-player action experiences? Here’s your huckleberry.
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