Following Rockstar’s 2013 hit “Grand Theft Auto V” is a massive undertaking, but Rockstar has quite possibly found their best game ever with “Red Dead Redemption 2.”
“Red Dead 2” is the prequel to 2010’s “Red Dead Redemption.” Rather than following the life of John Marston, the main character of the original “Red Dead Redemption,” players control Arthur Morgan, a man who joined Dutch Van Der Linde’s gang when he was 13 years old. It’s 1899 and life is tough for the main group of outlaws. The westward way of life is quickly dying — the coveted western frontier is quickly giving way to normalized society.
Without a doubt, “Red Dead 2” is one of the most gorgeous games available. The sheer amount of colors and pop in the world is fantastic. Playing on a launch Xbox One, the frame-rate never dips below 30 and runs solidly.
“Read Dead 2” is a slower-paced game. Unlike Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto” series, players aren’t blazing through the world in fast cars. Instead, players trot through on horses and are encouraged to stop and explore the land.
Rather than speeding through a bustling world, towns are small, quaint experiences generally. Players are encouraged to walk around (or ride at trot speed) and talk to people, explore the world, hunt for animals and feed the camp.
Want to continue the story? Go for it at your own pace. Would you rather be a bounty hunter? You can do that. Or, maybe you want to be a villainous outlaw who murders everyone in every city and robs everyone you happen upon? You can do that too.
A large amount of the gameplay of “Red Dead 2” is putting players into the shoes of an outlaw. Arthur has to make hard decisions to survive, so in turn, the player has to constantly make hard decisions. Dutch’s gang is strapped for cash, so players must decide to rob others to get money, or work bounties and other jobs to get these funds.
By pressing the left trigger, players can interact with every single character in the game. You can talk with them and greet them, you can antagonize them or you can just rob them outright.
Characters all respond differently to these actions. Some don’t want to be greeted and will yell at Arthur. Others enjoy it, and will say hello back. Robbing some characters will get players easy cash, others will whip out a gun without hesitation and fight you.
The game relies on an honor system to show what type of person Arthur is. By robbing innocent citizens and murdering them, your honor goes down. If you’re aiding citizens and doing good deeds, it will goes up. Characters around the world all react differently to you based on this, making each player’s game a truly unique experience.
The relationships between the characters in Dutch’s gang is what makes this experience shine. Watching Arthur bicker with John or just have a candid conversation about family with Charles makes these characters feel alive.
However, the characters in “Red Dead” aren’t good people (common in games by Rockstar,) but that doesn’t mean they’re unlikeable. Arthur does bad things with Dutch’s gang — they rob banks and trains, they steal from people, bounty hunt and kill. Despite this, they’re charming people who want to survive and keep their way of life alive.
The voice acting and sound design is top-notch. Not a single performance falters and each character sounds true to life. The soundtrack is perfect and songs always kick in at good times.
The story in “Red Dead 2” is by far Rockstar’s greatest plot. The writers truly outdid themselves with nearly every single beat. Watching the tragic events of Dutch’s gang unfold is one of the greatest gaming experiences of this century.