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Midlife Gamer Game of the Year 2018

January 17th, 2019 by

01goldcoin146 Hours. To date this is how much I have played of this game at time of writing. I didn’t collect all the dinosaur bones. I didn’t undertake any of the optional stagecoach missions. I didn’t kill all the legendary animals. And I certainly didn’t study all the animals or pet all the dogs. So how on earth have I played in excess of 60 hours of the main story missions?

Well…..

I have spent many an hour in the barbers fulfilling my lifelong dream to have a lush, well-groomed beard. In real life, even as someone in their forties, I only have the ability to grow facial hair that is patchy at best. I am sure that, if seen unshaven in public, someone with severe alopecia would look at me and put their hand on my shoulder and say how sorry they felt for me; once they stopped laughing. Or the fact that I formed a bond so strong with my horse that I would spend silly amounts of money keeping them fed and brushed. Whereas, in real life, I hate riding horses and have lamented having to spend money on my daughter’s previous obsessions with lessons.

What makes Red Dead Redemption 2 our game of the year, voted by our community I might add, is its sheer attention to detail and unapologetic ambition. Not ever, not even with Grand Theft Auto, has a game felt so alive. There are no flying cars or no prostitutes that you can have ladies and gentlemans with. What you do have is a story grounded in realism with well-developed and believable characters that is on a par with the best that film and TV can offer. A game that you can sit in wonderment sitting on the banks of a secluded lake and fish. Fishing!? I can not think of anything more dull in real life.

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Grand Theft Auto with every iteration has continuously set the “open world” bar that has been copied time and time again. For every Watch Dogs or Mad Max, there is a Just Cause or a Saints Row. Many developers have tried to replicate the Rock Star magic formula with varying degrees of success. In all of these examples you can get in a car or a bike or a plane and shoot some unwilling bystanders with mindboggling choices of explosive ordinance.

However, there are not many examples that hark back to the old frontier of the Wild West. This is surprising given the success of the genre in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. In actual fact, to see one of the only examples of open world cowboy action you need look no further that the original Red Dead Redemption, released back in 2011, now 8 years ago. A game I actually replayed just after I completed number two. By doing so, I then could a really understand what Rockstar have accomplished here.

The world itself is just jaw dropping. Whether you are gazing at the early morning sunrise or getting drenched as it pisses down in a thunderstorm. Wandering into a busy town and saying hello to random people or actually feeling cold as you freeze off your proverbials in the mountains. Trying to befriend that pretty white horse that you know from scanning Reddit is the best one in the game.

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Arthur’s journey, is both timeless and one of its time. The pace is something you have to adjust to fully, if you want to enjoy everything that is offered. So regardless of whether you play him as an honourable rogue, or a bit of a dick who shoots everyone who looks at him a bit funny, is both believable and touching. In fact, a lot has been written that the sheer freedom of the game offers to the extent (and widely reported) that you can bring harm to a women protesting for equal rights. Little was written that the in-game police would soon have you shot and your honour accordingly reduced and thus having to reload the save. As disgusting as this is, that in this day and age people think it is OK to create online videos of this act to generate clicks, maybe this is the cost of being given so much freedom.

Regardless of whether this option was an oversight by the developers, the period that the story is set in reflects the attitudes of the times. The rampant racism of people of colour or the struggle for gender equality is counterbalanced by the attitudes of Arthur himself. A man who is tortured by his history yet open minded to the struggles of others make him one of the most believable and well-rounded characters in any medium, yet alone gaming. Take the time to speak with your other gang members and you will be rewarded with a rich but subtle characterisation. In fact, the stand out character is a woman. A strong independent woman who further stands out due to the environment she is placed in. This is modern and mature writing.

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Due to work and children, I really do not have the time I once did to play a lot of games these days. I really didn’t have the time to write this but I was compelled to do so. It really has to take something truly special with all my commitments to spend so much time in a world and enjoy every last second of it. Not only is Red Dead Redemption 2 our game of the year, but I would personally argue that this is one of the best games ever made, and amongst the best stories of any medium.

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One Response to “Midlife Gamer Game of the Year 2018”
  1. avatar Solm says:

    Awesome review. Sadly I have not played much of Red Dead 2, but it’s OK it took me over a year to finish the first game, so I’ll finish this in 2022.

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