Red Dead Redemption is undoubtedly one of the best games of the previous generation of consoles, but what made it so special? When you look at the catalogue of games spread across the lifespan of the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, many titles fell into the same genre. There were over twelve hundred games released for the two consoles combined, and these covered a multitude of genres: sports games such as FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer were a mainstay, racing games such as Forza, Gran Turismo and Burnout satisfied the itch to get behind the wheel of the fastest cars, the Call of Duty franchise alone had ten instalments released on just this generation of consoles; but what about westerns? There were seven. Seven “western” style games released for the Xbox 360, with even fewer than that released on the PlayStation 3. If John Wayne had been in the video game business instead of the movie business, he would have been hard-pressed to find work.
Of the seven western games which did release for the Xbox 360, three of these titles were in the Call of Juarez series, and in my personal opinion, they did not have the same effect as one Red Dead Redemption.
Perhaps the under-saturation of this particular genre is what made Red Dead Redemption stand out from the crowd. It gave us something which we never knew we truly wanted. It allowed us to step into the shoes of the Gunslinger, as we have seen portrayed on the big screen many times á la Clint Eastwood or the aforementioned John Wayne. And so, Red Dead Redemption gave us something new.
Rockstar Games had a track record of producing fantastic products, with several instalments in the Grand Theft Auto franchise already under their belt, as well as fantastic standalone games such as Canis Canem Edit (also known as ‘Bully’). So perhaps it should have come as no surprise that Red Dead Redemption was as good as it was.
What made it so good then? For starters, the story of Red Dead Redemption is one of the best in modern video games. The player took control of John Marston, a former outlaw who is enlisted by the Bureau of Investigation. He is told that he must help bring his former gang members to justice, and in return he will be granted amnesty & be allowed to return to his family. I won’t discuss it any further, lest I spoil it for anyone who hasn’t played the game (if that is the case, stop reading this right now and go play it).
Next, there is the setting. Not many companies had taken a stab at games set in the Old West, but Rockstar did it perfectly; the farmland, the dusty mountains, the vast expanse of desert all added to our immersion within the world of Red Dead. The world itself was alive and teeming with activities for the player to take part in: the saloons offered us poker and alcohol (what more could a person want?), the local sheriff enlisted us to fulfil bounties & help defend towns against bandits, and we could even help farmers wrangle up their cattle and horses. Every element of the open world seemed carefully thought out, and offered the player a sense of satisfaction for being there.
Alas, almost six and a half years had passed, and fans of the original had begun to lose hope of a sequel, or indeed a prequel, to this beloved game. That was, of course, until the sixteenth of October when Rockstar Games posted the familiar red banner of Red Dead Redemption, embossed with their logo, to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, sending the respective social media sites into meltdown as it could truly only mean one thing: Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming.
Rockstar released a “trailer” for the game on the twentieth of October, and I use the word ‘trailer’ lightly as it is really only a sliver of footage – perhaps “teaser” is more appropriate. It shows off some of the landscapes we can expect from the game: this time around we see some lush forestry and snow-capped mountains, a welcome addition to the dusty plains of the original. We also see seven figures, riding into battle perhaps, on what appear to be *SPOILER ALERT* horses. Yes, there will be horses in this game.
Perhaps the most surprising thing is the lack of an announcement of a PC version of the game. Granted, Red Dead Redemption never released for the PC, but the fan outcry and later release of a PC version of their latest game, Grand Theft Auto V, is surely an indicator that the market is there for it.
Whether Rockstar does eventually release a PC version after the initial console release is yet to be seen. I, for one, am just glad to have my PlayStation 4 at the ready.