It’s easy to just label Red Dead Redemption as GTA 4 on horseback but actually it’s more than that and thankfully presents an original concept in an age where the market’s full of shooters, racing games and family titles. So, in this Western you play as John Marston, a man who’s trying to be good after leaving a gang of naughty people. He’s come to the Wild West to confront the gang leader and stop him before he goes after John’s wife and kids.
After being shot at the start of the game he’s taken in by some of the townsfolk and then his adventure begins, as he helps the citizens around him and, just like in a movie, edges ever closer to the final confrontation.
Let’s start with what’s similar to GTA. The combat system is almost identical except for the ‘Dead Eye’ slow-motion bit taken from Red Dead Revolver where you can target multiple enemies and hit points and fire at them in a flurry of gunfire. Combat is actually pretty simple if you don’t get flanked. Just stay in cover and pop and shoot until everyone’s dead. You can also duel one-on-one when the opportunity arises.
You also roam round the map doing story missions and other side missions which you will probably miss if you don’t explore on horseback. You can fast travel between locations you’ve already discovered but, like in Fallout 3, I recommend going off the beaten path where you’ll find animals to hunt, people to help and treasure to find.
It’s also a breath of fresh air to be on horseback instead of driving a car. You can even whistle and your horse will come running so you’re never without transport for long. New guns and items can be bought in the shops but to be honest, there’s no real need to use any of them. As long as you have your wits about you it’s possible to do everything you need to with a standard pistol and a rifle.
There are also plenty of other things to distract you from just racing on your horse or shooting at people. Working on a ranch you can lasso and tame horses by playing buckaroo on their backs, herd cattle and play games to win cash including poker, horseshoe and five knuckle shuffle or whatever it’s called.
In fact, there is so much to do in this game you can easily put over 30 hours into the single player campaign and then of course dive into multiplayer with up to 15 mates. The game also looks breathtaking as the sun rises over the hills or when the clouds roll in during a thunderstorm.
If you want a sandbox game that isn’t your run-of-the-mill driving about cities and fighting gangland wars then this is definitely an essential purchase. Red Dead Redemption gets 9 out of 10.
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