Do you love Westerns? If so, the setting and motif of Red Dead Redemption will rock your socks off.
Underneath the hood, the technological elements are more or less successful, with the exception of a few glitches that aren’t gamebreakers ( during one mission the game forgot to spawn a horse for the accompanying NPC, so I had to ride off without him and fail the mission. Second time through the naughty errant horse was where it was supposed to be). I’m a huge fan of the sandbox game style in general, and the Grand Theft Auto series in particular, and this game hits all the right notes to be in good company with the previous Rockstar efforts.
The desert is a lot less forgiving than other sandbox settings. I was killed by a cougar attack within the first 20 minutes of wandering around, and I still flinch and spur my horse on when I think I hear a cougar shriek.
The horse AI is something to talk about as well. It’s not that the horse is your intelligent sidekick and ally. No no, think more realistic and annoying. Anytime you dismount it, the horse will slowly wander around and eventually out of sight. You can hitch it to a post in town, but in the wilderness he just moseys along as soon as you get off him. If you leave him in a dangerous spot, he’ll leave more quickly. You can always call your horse with a loud whistle, but there are certainly times when you urgently need the horse to be at your side, and he’s off in the bushes playing horse hide and seek. And, you can spur your horse on to run at a full gallop, but if you do this too much he will buck you off, usually at the worst possible moment.
But, even though I enjoy the game, there’s still something missing. I like Westerns well enough, but not enough to be enthralled by riding across the dusty countryside to the sound of instrumental mood music and the occasional coyote howl. After an hour, all the cacti look the same. I missed the different radio stations and giant cities of GTA. And I definitely miss all of the people.
Overall, Red Dead Redemption does stimulate my gaming-related pleasure centres, but in doesn’t reach the almost narcotic levels that Grand Theft Auto: Vice City did. I give it a 7.5 out of 10.