Following a steady yearly release schedule from Rockstar they skidded to a halt with the cash cow that was the re-release of GTA V, because of its online mode. Eventually tired of having money fights because people kept getting paper cuts on their willies, Rockstar invested so much time into Red Dead Redemption 2 that a scandal appeared because of the 100+ hour weeks the team had to endure to create it. Which is nothing compared to what I’ve had to endure to review it.
Red Dead Redemption 2 begins with an intense post-catastrophe rush for safety, a rush that is hindered by the continental drift speed of movement in the game, and the universal urge to draw a big willy in the snow with your horse tracks. Despite having the ninety quid Ultimate Edition, I sensed no real benefit at this point and – spoiler alert – never did. The game is a prequel to the original Red Dead Redemption and you play as the full, populated gang that John Marston will eventually be sent to kill the dregs of. As the sequel was released first, you get to play as Arthur Morgan a gruff loner cowboy with a very strong sense of loyalty, as he puts up with the destructive whims of possible satanic magician Dutch “One More Score” van der Linde.
One of the early things to lose my attention was the lack of plot at this point. The game is performing one last score and fucking it up so badly that you have to move camp, over and over until the credits roll. The game even starts just after you’ve fucked up ‘one last score’, and continues in this fashion. The realism causes the game to suffer, the length of time it takes to loot a body or check a drawer is really cool the first few times, the lack of a reasonable fast travel system is a pain in the ass, and am I still really tapping X to run in 2018?
My notes, that I made while playing the game during the first chapter simply state:
“I can understand why people would have dropped out of this franchise around the one hour mark”
“I’ve been playing this for 20 hours, and I’m still not sure if I’m enjoying it or have Stockholm Syndrome”
The sound, the folie, the unnecessary horse-testicle-shrinking detail, the acting, the world building everything about this game is better than anything I’ve ever experienced. So why am I both bored to the point of crying and playing it all the time? What is this feeling? An obligation to my fellow gamers to drill deep into the game, or, echoing my last relationship, a constant feeling of “maybe it’ll become what I want it to be soon”. Maybe that’s it, I’m being gaslighted by the gaming community. The fastest selling game, best game ever, the only game worth talking about. These are things I hear, but I’m sneaking off to the bathroom when Red Dead 2 is asleep and can’t see me, to play Bit.Trip Runner 2 on the Vita. Sure I’m cheating on Red Dead, but maybe I’m not the bad guy here.
I waited to write this until I got access to the beta* of the online mode which I have finally done. To keep the metaphor going it’s like when my girlfriend came home with her hair died and looking sexy, a new job, and asking genuine questions about my day. I took this as an optimistic moment, a moment when maybe I could see a future with her, finally. Unfortunately, Red Dead Online and my relationship went the exact same way. After a promise of something more exciting and enjoyable I ended up feeling more detached than before, and now all these other guys are playing too.
Online is basically a new story, same map. There is a gigantic battle royale mode (obviously), various deathmatch modes that are literally the exact same thing except you can only use knives, or pistols or farts. The way they try and control the killing-random-strangers-to-be-a-dick mechanic forces you into having to actually talk to the person with your mic, which is interesting. There are a lot of strangers to help, and story missions to do by yourself or with friends, and in many ways, you could play most of the online as a bonus third game (after the story mode, and the massive epilogue). The amount of content should be applauded, both online and offline, it’s like all the DLC that they were gonna bring out just got left in the game.
However, I’ve had enough. It’s a really really really really great game. For someone. Not for me. So go and have a child with it and never speak to me again.
*I actually just forgot to write it.
(To Glynne: I’m giving it 8/10 anyway even though I think I hate it.)
Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)
Now begins the wait for the next GTA game. 2025 will be an awesome year for gaming.
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