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Is Red Dead THAT Good? I’m Not So Sure….

January 13th, 2011 by

Firstly pleased to see that their are other souls out there who felt a small piece of the jigsaw slot into place when first they picked up a controller or throttled a joystick and clattered their way through Dizzy/Turrican/Shadow of the Beast etc. Pleased to see that even though the stigma of being a gamer was much more intense back in the day, that today we still batter joypads, fence with our Wii controllers and goggle at new release lists with the same pre-pubescent relish as yesteryear.

Secondly, I feel I have to speak out about Red Dead. I listened to the recent podcast, albeit in the dark, at 2 in the morning beside my fair lady and once again heard the virtues of Red Dead being heartily repeated.

Sure you can shoot a horse, by why doesn't it feel good?

But, the thing is I just don’t get it. I know its beautiful, I love the whole idea of the Wild West dying and the grasping hand of central government bringing peace to the frontier, the voice acting and the cutscenes are excellent. Possibly even better than the Toban’esque Behemoth of the heartfelt, dialogue heavy titles released by Bioware. The character animation, bullet collision detection and sound effects are all spot on but the game to me still somehow feels empty. I wonder if its because the games background and story telling are so rich that it almost feels like an RPG only without the stats and diverse character development of say Mass Effect or any Bethesda title. I want to dip into this world but when I do it feels kind of hollow as a consequence possibly because it flirts with the RPG.

For example, I shoot up some animals in the desert, and I skin them for a challenge. I get money but there is nothing really for me to spend the money on. Maybe not the challenges, maybe the little side missions then but again the side stories get going and then I am not really rewarded at the end of it. I am not sure what the reward could even be in the game dynamic as the horses and guns don’t really advance my ability to play much better other than allow me to barrel across the desert a little faster. And to be fair thats what the game feels like to me a constant gallop across endless beautiful but partly empty desert plains. Yes the animals are wonderfully realised but i don’t feel satisfied when I kill them.

Meh, seen it before.

I suppose that brings me to the second point, the combat is a little dull and not really a challenge, ME2 and Gears of War aptly showed how brilliant over the shoulder shooters can be but in Red Dead I rarely feel truly threatened. Why? bullets still whistle overhead and thwack into wood, but my heart isn’t there. Maybe I am not putting myself across too well but in truth whilst I recognise that all the components of a great game are there I still can not bring myself to love it or understand why so many do?

Does anyone else feel the same or am I rambling incoherently on a subject that most may feel is tantamount to gaming heresy?

8 Responses to “Is Red Dead THAT Good? I’m Not So Sure….”
  1. avatar Wayne Shayler says:

    Well said that man.

    I cannot get into this game at all, although I’m not writing it off yet.

    Same thing happened to Fallout 3 during our first meeting, but I fell in love with that late last year.

    Uncharted 2 was the same. Drake just seemed to turn into ‘Lord of the Gays’ halfway into my playthrough and I went right off him.

    Give it six months and go back and see if your feelings have changed. We’re all different and we all like different games, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  2. avatar Adamski UK says:

    Agreed. I have completed the game, so you know my frame of reference.
    I became immersed in the world from the start. The environment, characters, art assets etc all pulled me in. Production is second to none.
    It was like Sergio Leone films, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and a hint of Blazing Saddles all rolled into one.
    It soon began to fade though.
    I lost interest in some of the characters, Marston’s behaviour seemed to be fickle throughout. One moment he’s a tough talking, tall walking, hard son of a bitch….the next, he’s a noodle armed pansy agreeing to the most mundane tasks.

    My biggest issue with the game? The horse riding.
    Galloping from A to B would send me to sleep faster than a hypnotist.
    It was the rhythmic thudding of the hooves that did it. I’ve never fallen asleep some many times in any other game.

    But I endured it and powered through because this is a game space that I’d not been in since West Bank on the ZX Spectrum…the Wild West.
    At best it evoked happy memories of The Man with No Name, The Cartwrights and Rockridge (which is the tune I sang each time I rolled into Armadillo).

    Having said all that, I’d stil like to try the Undead nightmare DLC.

    I’m a fickle gamer.

  3. avatar duggydarko says:

    @ Adamski UK – Holy crap I thought I was the only one to fall asleep while riding all the way across the map! I think your right about it being the rhythmic beat of the hooves. I cant count the amount of times I nodded off and plowed straight over a cliff while on the old nag!

  4. avatar Adamski UK says:

    @ Duggydarko – Phew! I thought it was just me going from a MidlifeGamer to an OAPGamer!

  5. avatar sirBetamax says:

    Feel the exact same way. Finally got it quite recently and immediately got drawn in to the beautifully created world, but as you say there is something hollow about it all – something you can’t even always put your finger on which (for me) prevented it being considered as my game of the year or really understanding quite how many people are falling over themselves in love with it.

    One odd example for me would be when Marston arrives in Mexico. I had heard about the sequence and how it blew many gamers away with it’s use of a Jose Gonzalez song, yet for me it bugged out because I got off my horse. Doesn’t seem like much, and it was essentially just a bug, but in contrast to the reason perhaps a lot of people love that scene – the fact it is so detached, random, and somewhat meaningless made me pause. I just don’t feel a moment supposedly so powerful should be so easily missed out.

    /ramble.

  6. avatar Anthony Bate says:

    I somewhat agree with all of the above. Whilst the game is a masterpiece of setting and storytelling, I thought it did start to drag in the penultimate 8 hours, the end part of Mexico and returning up North. One piece I have taken away is a love of Liar’s Dice, we really must play it at the next MLG meet-up and involve drinking into the game.

  7. avatar barley says:

    Fair play to you all but I loved the game,
    Never played to first and this is my first western game if you leave out Gunsmoke.

    Loved the story and random events, every time I let my guard down I was likely to be murdered by something and the undead nightmare DLC was a joy to behold. Pants Pooping at a regular basis!

    I did not encounter many glitches and never saw Donkey Woman (sadly)
    I would have to say that It is my Game of the Year, (waiting for Mass Effect 2 on the PS3)

    Now I’ve thought about it, it is the second Western game I have played as how could anyone discount Gunsmoke…..

  8. avatar Mantits says:

    When did Drake become Lord of the Gays?

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