Monday, 14 June 2010

Roaming in Redemption

Rockstar are very good at creating big, sprawling worlds, often filled with whores, violent types and fast modes of transport. We are very accustomed to spotting these around huge cityscapes that the game dev has made itself famous for with the ever popular Grand Theft Auto series.

I must admit though, I was starting to get bored of their tricks and cities, with GTA IV thrilling me considerably less than the other games in the series before it. It had all been done before, just with a new lick of paint and a shooting mechanic that wasn’t designed by a chair leg. What I wanted from them was something new and more original, and oh boy did they deliver with Red Dead Redemption.

Putting aside the fact that cowboys and six shooters are undeniably cool, the game environment has been the biggest thrill for me. Gone are the never ending copy and pasted skyscrapers and paved streets, instead being replaced by desolate nothingness. There really are huge areas of hardly anything, which makes exploration infinitely more fun. It means that when you do come across something, it immediately sticks out a lot more than any one of the generic locations GTA had to offer.

It’s when you are riding through a desert and you come across a lone man beckoning you over. What does he want? Is he the victim of a crime? Does he need a favour from you? Would he like to share an interesting story? Oh, no, he actually wants to slay and eat you, like he has done to others before this encounter if the piles of tasty man remnants are anything to go by. Thankfully, the solution is only two pulls of the trigger away.

Red Dead Redemption really is the perfect example of ‘less is more’. It makes each encounter with a human an event in its own right, and shows that everyone has an agenda, rather than the seemingly pointless bumbling about that everyone in Liberty City partakes in. Not only this, but the game even has a huge supply of different animals, letting you hunt, skin and fend off the likes of snakes, horses, boars and even bears. You can look a bit silly mind, running around the desert chasing an armadillo whilst fruitlessly trying to shoot it with a revolver.

I have genuinely found Redemption a lot more satisfying to play than GTA, and it’s all down to the original setting. Maybe if we were flooded with westerns and a city roamer came up as a rarity I would have felt the opposite way, as the novelty factor is still very high. Other western games have come close to greatness, such as Red Dead Revolver and Gun, but Redemption has perfected the atmosphere.

Then again, anything that lets me throw a rope over an innocent bystander, drag them to a train track and then let Mr Chuffy decide their fate is always going to get a thumbs up in my book.

Sorry if this observation has come slightly late, but I still thought it was blog worthy. Now then, who’s excited about E3 eh?