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.
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.
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?