Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

Overview

The posse rides

STRENGTHS

+ The best and literally most open world ever created

+ A prequel story that builds into the previous game perfectly

WEAKNESSES

- Shooting mechanics are serviceable but outdated

- No true fast travel system making for a lot horseback traversal

Red Dead Redemption 2 INFORMATION

Release Date: October 26th, 2018

Developer/Publisher: Rockstar Games/Rockstar Games


The most ambitious and beautifully realized open world ever created Red Dead Redemption 2 has only a few flaws that prevent it from sublimity. Despite a slow start, dated gameplay mechanics and a protagonist who is just around for the ride most of the story, Red Dead Redemption 2 so perfectly hits every other mark that they do nothing to takeaway from the game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Story Review

Dutch Van Der Linde

Because RDR2 is a sequel, there is already much known about the demise of some characters, both in death and morale standing. RDR2 knows this, and so to begin, it's a slow grind. You play as Arthur, a member of the gang led by Dutch Van Der Linde, the same antagonist in the first game, although seldom seen. One of the critiques of Arthur is that, especially in the first three or four chapters, he has no purpose. Other than his belief in Dutch and loyalty to the group he doesn't have a strong internal motivation. In many ways his position as an observer can make the player better role play (good deeds vs. bad ones) and take in the story of Dutch, rather than a focus in Arthur. This can be boring because much of the story, even of Dutch is very slow to build. It's ironic that past the chapters, the story picks up and capitalizes on everything built up and pushes Arthur a specific way. It can make your past decisions seem inconsequential, and a couple of decisions towards the end will have you asking "why would I choose this?" However, in terms of storytelling, it's worth it, and it's quite a moving end to the story, including the slow burning beginning to the extensive epligloge which also ends tremendously.

Red Dead Redemption 2 and its main character's tale take awhile to become engaging, but once they do, seeing through to the end is a must.

Technical Review

Red Dead Redemption 2 is stunning. Discounting the faked and botched HDR issues, a game this massive should not be this beautiful. In terms of open world games full of vistas, rivers, plains, wildlife and so much more, only The Witcher 3 comes close, a beautiful game in its own right that pales in comparison. It's not just the natural setting that looks amazing, the entire western motif is detailed down to the buttons on your wool shirt. Every accessory from your hat to your guns can be customized, and all look real when applied to Arthur's appearance. 

The sounds of the countryside, specifically the flowing streams and animals are unrivaled. Add to that the galloping of horses, the creaking of wagons over a bumpy road and the essential gun shots and the immersion is nigh perfect. Voice acting, while a tad on the stereotypical side is brilliant, especially Dutch and John Marston, and with the amount of characters in the game, all of them voiced well it's an impressive feat that maintains the immersion of the world.

Overall it is the stunning natural beauty, that HDR or not is quite something to behold. The changes in scenery are progressive and that design of traversing these varied ecosystems is impressive in it of itself. 

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

Music Review

There are several big moments, usually during a trek to a new destination that have the type of mood-setting music only found in a quality film. It is these rare occasions where the lyrical tracks are laid over, creating said epic mood while crossing the grand landscape. It can be so hypnotic (especially with "cinematic camera" active) that forces contemplation. Where have I come from, where am I going?" It might not always be accurate to the time period, but it definitely invokes the cinematic versions of the wild west as we know them.

The music that provides a backdrop for the majority of the journey is more subtle. It's almost always there and it's dynamic to the situation. Get in a gunfight and the tempo speeds up. Stop by a river to fish and it's a slow little mosey. There is the common twang and slide of the guitar peppered with light drum accompaniment throughout the entire game and is again vital in setting the tone of the wild west.

Gameplay Review

Honestly, the core mechanics and moment to moment gameplay is antiquated in Red Dead Redemption 2. Shooting, just as in Grand Theft Auto V is extremely auto-assisted, and that's out of necessity. Due to the terrain, amount and frequency of enemies plus the friendlies that all populate the field during a fire fight the frustration of singling out the correct target would be unbearable. The reticle is so small that even when targeting the enemy, precision can be difficult. RDR2 isn't just a shooting gallery of course, but it does comprise a large percentage of what you'll be doing. The fact remains, it is still fun. Getting behind cover and popping out to headshot a few enemies is still satisfying. Perhaps the most fun aspect of gunplay is the Dead Eye system, when time slows down and you can paint targets on your enemies, release and let the lead fly. It is especially useful when facing multiple adversaries, and incredibly fun when you drop them all.

While shooting is most likely the thing the game has you do most, it's literally everything else that you can do in RDR2 that sets it apart. There are literally too many things to list them and they are all done well. From fishing to poker, from breaking in a wild horse to whoring, there is a lot to do. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of all these features is that you don't necessarily have to seek them out to do them. So much time is spent

There is a ton of horse riding in RDR2, it's mostly unavoidable due to the amount of ground needing to be journeyed. It can be beautiful, but it is tedious because in order to make your house go you hold the cross button, top speed up in must be rapidly pushed, this will happen a lot. Even running on foot requires this. There are other options to travel such as the train and a very limited fast travel system. Fast travel only works when leaving from your camp (not to mention you have to earn it, first)  it you can't use it to get back, which guess what, is where most of the "missions" are triggered. It makes sense why fast travel wouldn't be more extensive, your supposed to explore the world, and most of the time it's worth it. There are certain parts of the game where you'll just want to progress the story by starting that next mission, instead you'll have a eight minute horseback ride back to camp.

Deadeye system

Red Dead Redemption 2 Review Roundup

The shooting mechanics are outdated, horseback riding is tedious, the fast travel system is mostly worthless, HDR is broken and for 80% of the game, Arthur is nothing more than a bystander. Despite all of these flaws, Red Dead Redemption 2 is still one of the best games ever made. All of the deficiencies are easily trumped by everything else the game has to offer and while it may cause some annoyance, it’s worth it to experience all that RDR2 does well, which is everything else.

Read Dead Redemption 2 Review Score

The most ambitious game, realized