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Red Dead Redemption - Red Dead Redemption

By Stuart Andrews



  • Recommended by TR
Red Dead Redemption


Our Score:


Red Dead Redemption (RDR) does depart from the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) formula in all sorts of other ways. For a start, while there are towns and ranches scattered across the game’s early 1900s Mexican border setting, the majority of the game takes place in the vast spaces between them; in the canyons, hills and scrubland of the wild frontier. The risk with this kind of setting is that it’s either devoid of life, or that it’s full of slightly dull, repetitive tasks to complete – an accusation often thrown at open-world games like Far Cry 2 or the first Just Cause.

RDR avoids this with a system of random events that occur just off the road or over the next ridge as you’re riding along from place to place. Whether it’s prisoners escaping from a marshal, a woman being attacked by coyotes or a would-be horse thief trying to catch you off your guard, there’s always something interesting going on, and if you don’t want to get involved, then you don’t have to. Inevitably, these random side missions repeat after a while, but not to the extent that you’ll grow tired of them.

Meanwhile, the open country is rich with critters, ranging from wolves, coyotes and wild horses to cougars, rabbits and deer. Some can be killed, skinned and sold for meat and fur, while others will gang up to attack you on horseback. The old West has never seemed wilder.

RDR also works surprisingly well as a straight action game. Marston is by trade a gunslinger, and his over-arching mission is to kill an old comrade who the government wants dead. His services are constantly on call from struggling lawmen, drunken crooks, pompous snake-oil salesmen and good-natured ranchers, and missions that don’t involve bloodshed are rare indeed. Well, we had our doubts about the gunplay in GTA and its two episodic add-ons, but RDR nails it. Finding and firing from cover works without a hitch, and there’s just enough assistance when aiming to make you feel like a bad-ass without leaving you feeling like the game is playing itself.

The various outlaws, treasure hunters, soldiers, brutes and miscellaneous varmints you’re up against aren’t the smartest adversaries around, but they can use cover and move about when necessary, and the game’s general tactic of challenging you with overwhelming numbers helps give it a fast-paced, action-packed feel. If you’ve seen a shoot-out situation in a Western, it’s probably here, from the classic duel to horseback chases to almighty blast-outs in decaying mansions, and the best of these make for incredible set pieces.

Best of all, RDR still finds room for a cool, slow-motion targeting system – the so-called, ‘Dead Eye’ view – where, with a click of the right thumbstick, you can line up several shots then execute them at once in a single burst. Sure, this sort of thing has been overdone in games from Max Payne onwards, but it’s such a good fit here for the gritty Western theme that it’s hard to complain. In fact, combined here with the excellent Euphoria character animation system, it makes for some spectacular scenes of Wild Bunch-style violence.

Neil Richardson

May 18, 2010, 9:47 pm

SOLD! Will definately be lapping this up after other anticipated games of late fell short of expectation - namely Alan Wake.


May 18, 2010, 10:59 pm

Strange question to put forward that is really bugging me. What happens when the Horses crash in this game. Is it realistic to the point then can get wounded? Do you then have an ethical dilemma to put them down?


May 18, 2010, 11:54 pm

I'm holding out for a PC version. Just imagine that game running at a much higher res and with other GFX improvements. Yummy


May 19, 2010, 12:13 am

Really looking forward to getting this on Friday - I pre-ordered it in an act of faith


May 19, 2010, 3:07 am


Can I ask why not a 10/10? I read the review looking for that minus but could not find it that is all.


Linky below they mention they maimed a dog so I guess so.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watc...


May 19, 2010, 1:11 pm

Been wanting this game for a while now. While not a huge fan of Westerns I am a huge fan of Unforgiven, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In the West and, especially, Cormac McCARthy's Blood Meridian.

Great to see a game that seems to represent very much how imagined much of Blood Meridian to look like.


May 19, 2010, 1:46 pm

On the westerns games list you mentioned, I'd like to see Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath. Loved that game!


May 19, 2010, 1:57 pm

"RDR avoids this with a system of random events that occur just off the road or over the next ridge as you’re riding along from place to place."

Random encounters!



May 19, 2010, 2:22 pm

Been umm-ing and ahh-ing about this for a while now, you've talked me into it! Pity it had to be released on the same day as ModNation Racer... I've been waiting for a decent Kart Racer far longer than I've been waiting for an open world western!


May 19, 2010, 2:24 pm


I'm afraid you can crash horses. This has caused me huge pangs of guilt over the last week or so, as you discover that trying to push them down steep slopes into a canyon results in disaster. I've also had a couple bought down by wolves, which is pretty awful when it happens. On the plus side, you don't have to put them out of their misery, but it is awful when it happens.


It's very, very close to a 10/10, but I held off because there are, as I mentioned, times when the illusion of a real world breaks down, and because I found the lack of interactivity with the majority of the population a little disappointing. These are small things, though. It's incredibly close to that mark.


I promise RDR doesn't do that kind of random encounter ;)

It also helps that you can ignore them (if only FF let you do the same).


May 19, 2010, 3:32 pm


I know the game has glitches and according to the pixel counters on the net, the PS3 suffers more from frame drops and is not runnimg in 740p. Thankfully i'm on the 360 now I have just ignited a console campfire now I must whistle my horse.

1. The vast openworld has been captured beautifully sure no uncharted but this is the game you can roam in it.

2. A cohesive story with rich cutscene dialogue and top notch voice acting and compelling characters.

3. No western game has got the vibe anywhere close till now this is the benchmark title in open world games and the western genre.

There's always wobbles but no game breakers I'm adding 1 to my screen you never mentioned MP. ;)

Great review.


May 19, 2010, 3:55 pm

@hank - nice way to sneak in those PS3 vs 360 can of worms there... ;)


May 19, 2010, 4:02 pm

@StuAndrews - It's strange the way the brain is wired. I don't really have a problem shooting pedestrians or crashing cars in GTA IV, but the thought of a horse getting killed puts me off this game. It just seems too realistic :( . Oh my. Just saw a guy kill horses on youtube, one by crashing a carriage. Then secondly shooting an oncoming horse to get it to throw it's rider off. Nasty.


May 19, 2010, 4:22 pm

@darkspark88,@StuAndrews; I totally agree- his game looks awesome... but I'm not sure about crashing horses and hunting wolves sounds like my cup of tea. I'll shoot up and brutalize stupid humans in a game all day... but I'm not sure I'm going to handle shooting a horse during a chase like I would be shooting the tyres or the fuel tank on GTA IV! And hunting and skinning doesnt sound like my kind of thing either - is it mandatory? Can't I just hunt people and sell their skins?

Sir Stuie

May 19, 2010, 4:52 pm

I wasn't too impressed with GTA4, and this is getting similar reviews. Think I will wait for the hype train/horse to pass before jumping on.


May 19, 2010, 7:09 pm

I can promise everyone that there's no mandatory shooting of animals (well, apart from the ones that attack you). It's all optional, like many of the activities in the game.

In other words, don't let that put you off.


May 19, 2010, 7:58 pm

@Sir Stuie

I found GTA4 rough in that it was really too reflective on modern society. Many a meaningless relationship to be found and the constant calls from the cuzzin wanting to go bowling really made things a slog.

The hype was made by the circus not the ringmasters. GTA4 was the testing ground for rockstars engine, this is a totally different beast. Rockstar it seems have finally grown up, in writing and technical feats.

The hype for this game has been generated by gamer's not so much the media, short videos showing the game in motion and now it has been released proof that a bullshot is hard to find.

@PETA members

I like to be challenged morally in a game, I will look after my ride with my in game life. I'm concerned more about shooting carrot hunting rabbits. You don't have to hunt, you can pick flowers or dig treasure.

Real things like the grand national, hardly the sport of kings more akin to chubby fat cats and whorish greed disturb me further.

Youtube is full of troubled childhoods they should notes this on the site T&C's.

Rockstar should be applauded for making gaming "cool" and challenging our moral compass in games I think.


May 19, 2010, 10:45 pm

@Hank - Don't you think that Rockstar is probably not challenging our moral compass, but dictating it to us? Why do I feel indifferent to killing innocent people in GTA IV, but have an issue with killing animals?

I can't remember many games before GTA that allowed you to kill people that was not in self-defence or to protect oneself.


May 20, 2010, 3:51 am

I can't decide which version to get. 360 or ps3?


May 20, 2010, 5:33 am


I don't think Rockstar dictate that you must use violence outside the character and story plot. Sure you can be a jerk if you want to be, it's not all violence visit the Tw@t cafe and see how the web has evolved you could go drink driving and experience what a stupid thing that would be to do.

They give you the freedom to choose, in GTA4 my gratification came from spilling an NPC coffee or to bother a zombie chick on her mobile phone. Sure sometimes I just drop a suicide grenade in a traffic jam to awe at the physics, that would be my primary goal.

I am trying to remember a game pre GTA that fits your criteria but my memory is not what is was. The first Mortal Kombat springs to mind ripping a guys head off dripping in blood. As a youngster with peer pressure I got the game, soon after I stopped playing it because it disturbed me so much I do not buy games with excessive blood like say God of War.

With Read Dead Redemption my main thrill will probably come sampling the wild and what we as humans have destroyed - the wild. I think it's a very pro animal game you see the not so nice results from slaughter, its probably the most pro vegan standpoint made yet in a videogame. Treat your horse well and it will reward you, treat it bad and it will buck you. Sure I will hunt but it will not replace taking down the bad guys. Of course you can be an outlaw you get to choose, only in this game it not just the cops who take a dislike to you.

They touch many themes still applicable today - hunting, government, civil liberties plus many more, none of this dictated just good writing, but it can stop you for thought more than the usual video game.

I'm not the guy to ask I once had an amazing fight with an ex girlfriends best friend over the merits of GTA and whether it should be banned. I split up with her, no woman of mine is getting involved in feminist claptrap. I'm a mysogonist simpleton (I cannot spell it too I care not) or whatever the liberals want to sterotype me, so wrong guy to ask. Now if Harriet Harman was in a video game where I can play Batman, one of the fathers for justice I would do so much more than camp on the top of her house LOL

Jay Werfalli

May 20, 2010, 2:27 pm

Great comments Hank!


May 24, 2010, 3:24 am

its good but seriously too much travelling like all rockstar games,it takes the shine of after a few long sessions


June 4, 2010, 5:16 pm

Great game indeed, lost a whole day to it on Tuesday.

betelgeus - you can fast travel quite easily from your camp to anywhere you have already been

Not too bothered about the travelling as thats part of the world they live in and is good for characterisation.

I've decided that my character isnt going to kill a horse intentionally. I didnt really like killing the rabbits in one of the first Macfarlane ranch missions, although you have to to proceed.


June 14, 2010, 5:48 pm

There's some good gameplay in there but the story is terrible which really suprised me. Most of the enjoyment comes from meeting some of the characters which aren't used enough throughout the story. GUN did a lot of what RDR is doing many years ago and in my opinion better in some ways.


June 14, 2010, 6:16 pm

@Matski - disagree entirely. finished RDR over the weekend and for me it was one of the most engrossing stories I've enjoyed in many years. I thought the voice acting was superb and the fact almost every character you meet has a personality which makes you want to see more of them (notably Irish!) I think is of great credit to Rockstar.

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