Red Dead Redemption 2 lives up to the hype

Will McCracken

By Will McCracken

Five years since the video game production company Rockstar games released its blockbuster hit, Grand Theft Auto V, they have released a follow up to their 2010 release of Red Dead Redemption. Released on Oct. 26, Red Dead Redemption 2 is yet another overwhelming success for Rockstar games, achieving $725 million in sales in the first three days alone. The massive sales of Red Dead Redemption 2 are no fluke. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a masterpiece, and it offers a glance into the old American West presented in such a way that the world has never seen.

Red Dead Redemption 2 begins in 1899, offering a range of pressures that are pushing the gang towards collapse; specifically, the Pinkerton Detective Agency, bounty hunters, and other rival gangs fighting for their own survival in a rapidly modernizing world.

Fortunately for players, Red Dead Redemption 2’s story is very strong and interesting, filled with many intriguing characters and spectacular missions. No, I’m not going to give away any specific details.The story of Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the life and adventures of a cynical and reluctant outlaw named John Marston. Marston, a member of the Dutch van der Linde gang, seems to grow more and more disenchanted throughout the game. The repeated heartbreaks and setbacks which Marston is on the receiving end of appear to weigh heavily on the man. While the player determines how to manage Marston’s actions, either with chaotic good or malevolent violence, your treatment from the townspeople you encounter will reflect your previous actions.

One of the most impressive parts of the Red Dead Redemption 2 is its large, highly detailed map. Ranging from a French New Orleans-esque city of St. Denis, to the Rocky Mountains of the west, and all of the heartland in between, the scale is massive. The diversity of the environments within Red Dead Redemption 2 is seemingly unmatched by any other game that I have ever played. Whether bogged down in a muddy, dank swamp, or trotting on a horse up a steep snow covered incline, the surroundings are equally as beautiful as they are immersive. The ability of Rockstar Games to produce such a serene and calming  environment is nice, especially in contrast to the chaotic ambushes and gunfights present in the game.

In addition to the noteworthy environment of Red Dead 2, another interesting part of the game is the variety of random events that you seem to encounter anytime you spend more than a minute or two on your horse riding across the map. These encounters include helping unfortunate strangers and getting held up by roadside robbers. Each of these happenings adds a layer of spice to the game rather than serving as a monotonous component that other games have included, but executed in a less exciting manner.

If there is anything that seems to hold Red Dead Redemption 2 back, it has to be the long and drawn out nature of the game. The inability to fast travel creates a more realistic, but slower pace to the game. This isn’t an issue now, but I’m sure it will make future playthroughs of the campaign less interesting.

Another concern  for the game is its yet-to-be released multiplayer mode. Rockstar Games delayed the launch of Red Dead Online, to give players time to first play the campaign; however, the online mode was originally thought to have a release date of Nov. 15, which has come and gone. I’m fairly concerned for the online mode. My worries stem from Rockstar Game’s last release, GTA V. Grand Theft Auto Online started off very strong but then slowly devolved into a monotonous treadmill of constant updates, often adding very little besides new, outrageously priced guns and cars that included only slight performance increases.

Hopefully Red Dead Redemption 2 will improve upon the GTA Online model as well as add new and exciting features.