Red Dead Redemption (2010, Xbox 360)

red dead redemptionI really wanted to like this game. Actually, I wanted to love it, and a few times I even thought I was close to wrapping my arms around the overheating lump of plastic that was grinding it out. But there was something that wouldn’t let me completely enjoy the game, and maybe I’ll find out exactly what it is as I rant about it now.

Just as a recap. Red Dead Revolution is a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, created under the same company banner (Rockstar) as the ‘next-generation’ Grand Theft Auto games, and features much of the same style of game-play, but set in the American myth of the Wild West.

I liked GTA4. I played it through twice, completing every mission possible and exploring every corner I could. It was great, but it did have flaws. Having to answer your phone to go hang out with the douchebag characters was annoying, the plot dragged in a few places, and Niko wasn’t all that endearing after a while.
Rockstar made great changes and new additions in the episodic add-ons that made the game simply better and better just as you thought you were getting bored. And maybe they’re going to do something similar with Red Dead Redemption. There’s definitely space for more characters and overlapping plots.

It’s just the fucking horses though. At least in GTA I could hold down the accelerator and feel whatever car I had just stolen raise through the gears, strain itself at top speed and bend and yield as I threw it ’round a tight city street.
But now I have to tap ‘a’ repeatedly to get anything like a decent speed, and it’s still not fast enough. This desert looks like that desert after about 5 minutes and you’ll find yourself tapping ‘a’, ruthlessly bludgeoning your steed into the ground, past another listless outpost before you’re anywhere near your destination.

Sure, you might get bored driving in GTA too, but at least you could hail a taxi from wherever you were and fast-travel across the map. In RDR you’ve got to beat that pony to the nearest coach-station first.

The horses just aren’t real enough. Admittedly they’re probably the best computer-generated horses I’ve ever seen, but they’re still too robotic. The only time they’re not robotic is when you’re in a shoot-out and need a getaway. The fuckers will wander away from you when you’re trying to mount them.

And what really got me about the horses. You can ‘break’ them, tame a wild horse, ride a bucking bronco. That’s quite cool, I guess, but why doesn’t the controller vibrate when it’s flinging my little rag-doll character around? Someone should get the sack for that. It might actually be a little difficult if my controller were flipping around like a spazzy fish, but as it is I only need wiggle the controller a bit and wait until the horse gives up and accepts me as it’s God.

I was getting really upset with how shitty the game was. It was the same old errand missions from GTA. Why the fuck was I following a dog into the woods as part of a mission? This is the Wild West?

But then I got drunk (both in-game and IRL) and played poker and at least that was fun for a while, and I made more money than I could have completing the missions. Getting caught cheating, blasting the guy outside in a duel, and then going back in to claim my winnings was a definite plus.

But fuck the NPC’s that practically chase you down as you enter a town. No, I don’t want to go fetch your fucking wagon for you. No, I don’t want to catch that guy that robbed your shop, do it yourself. For fuck sake, I don’t care that someone has blah fucking gaargh.

So why not? I’ll shoot some people. Bang bang.

Okay and the law are after me now, fair enough. I’ll shoot some of them and run away. But what’s this shit? A fucking bounty on my head that I have to pay off or else I’ll get hassled wherever I go? Weak.

How am I supposed to determine whether my character is good or evil when I can’t get away from errands and I can’t murder people that cross me?

So I trudged through the game. The songs after completion of each chapter were cool, and the first introduction of Mexico was nice, but everything was just very arid in the end. It’s all just another fucking desert, another desert town.

Or there’s someone mountains later, and some bears. Wow.

And then, in the final missions, you’ve got to do all that bullshit you had to in the first missions again? Go ’round up some horses, follow a dog into the woods, and argue with your emo son and neglectful whore of a wife. Wow, just kill me now. And then, here’s a spoiler, they fucking kill your character.

You know what? Good riddance. Fuck this game.

Maybe I just don’t have enough time to get involved in sand-box games anymore. Perhaps I should have spent hours making the character my own and talking to all those bullshit peripheral arseholes asking me to fix their cinema or shit a solid diamond or whatever?

I’m butt-hurt.