Red Dead Redemption - Xbox 360

Game Description:Developed by Rockstar San Diego, as a follow up to the 2004 hit game, Red Dead Revolver, Red Dead Redemption is a Western epic, set at the turn of the 20th century when the lawless and chaotic badlands began to give way to the expanding reach of government and the spread of the Industrial Age. The story of former outlaw, John Marston, Red Dead Redemption takes players on a great adventure across the American frontier. "The team at San Diego have massively exceeded our expectations with the sheer depth of experiences in Red Dead Redemption," said Sam Houser, Founder of Rockstar Games. "The seamless combination of breathtaking beauty and intense action, all woven together with strong plotlines in a massive vibrant, rural environment is mind-blowing. We think this game helps to push the limits of what an open-world gaming experience can be." Utilizing Rockstar's proprietary Rockstar Advanced Game Engine (RAGE), Red Dead Redemption features an open-world environment for players to explore, including frontier towns, rolling prairies teeming with wildlife, and perilous mountain passes - each packed with an endless flow of varied distractions. Along the way, players will experience the heat of gunfights and battles, meet a host of unique characters, struggle against the harshness of one of the world's last remaining wildernesses, and ultimately pick their own precarious path through an epic story about the death of the Wild West and the gunslingers that inhabited it.
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Red Dead Redemption Hands-On Preview

Red Dead Redemption Hands-On Preview

By Sterling McGarvey - Posted Jan 28, 2010

Red Dead Redemption

After months of showing off the tech, the physics, and the heat effects of Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games provided me with the most important step that it could do pre-release: Passing the controller over to me. After Rockstar’s last presentation in late November -- which I noted for the impressive landscapes of Nuevo Paraiso and aesthetics that will feel familiar for Grand Theft Auto players, but not so much that the “Grand Theft Wagon” nickname is quite fair -- I was about ready to take down some outlaws and get the lay of the land myself.

Although I had the chance to test out RDR for myself, the controller exchanged hands on several occasions, as X-Play’s Abbie Heppe and G4 Editor-in-Chief Adam Sessler also tag-teamed on the RDR missions that Rockstar had on display for us. So while I wasn’t able to play every mission, I had the chance to observe Rockstar San Diego’s efforts on display.

If you haven’t followed RDR until now, the sequel follows John Marston, a reformed gunslinger who is thrust into the moral ambiguities of the West just as the US government is trying to transition “wild” to “mild.” The days of lawlessness are behind men like Marston, but in Peckinpah-esque nature, he’s being called in for one last big job.

Red Dead Redemption

In the first mission, Marston is in pursuit of a former colleague. But uttering the man’s name strikes fear and hesitation into the hearts of anyone who hears it. Therefore, Marston gets roped into a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” scenario with a marshal who’s not afraid to help, but needs some assistance of his own with an outlaw gang leader. For me, the mission served as a good display of “vehicular” navigation as I hailed my horse. It’s reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, since you can summon your equine pal from near anywhere. If you time it right, you can even jump on the horse while it’s in motion.

As I steered the horse alongside the marshal, I found that riding seems intuitive and easy. Marston can shoot while he rides, but at the expense of accuracy. Also, while spurring the horse gets a similar result as mashing the run button in GTA, you don’t really need to keep it up. Not only will the horse work at a steady speed, it will usually stay on track with members of your party, a bit like GTA4’s chase cam.

Upon arriving at the gang hideout, I sided up against a wall and began picking off bandits, one by one. Although the cover system resembles GTA4, there’s no auto-aim to help you pick off enemies. There is, however, Dead Eye, a slow-motion effect which lets you target body parts and surgically strike them down. It’s good for those moments when you aim to maim, which usually gets you a better payout when you’re out on a bounty. I discovered that it’s especially useful when you’re stuck in a nighttime scenario and your target visibility is low. I discovered that during a minigame in which I picked off buzzards languishing outside a shootout under the stars.

Red Dead Redemption

Immediately following the bandit takedown, I rode to a small ranch, where bandits had taken the rancher’s daughter hostage. Yet again, a good chance to test out cover and Dead Eye. It also provided a glimpse into the potentially dynamic in-game moments you can get from side missions. I shot my way through several gang members -- as pointed out in my last preview, close quarters kills are rather violent and nasty -- before making my way into the rancher’s home, where the gang leader had his daughter hostage. One of my cohorts failed to save her during another playthrough, but I found that cover and Dead Eye allowed me to dispatch him easily...and shoot him in the crotch several times for some virtual schadenfreude.

Side note: After playing through Assassin’s Creed II, I’ve coined the term “squirrel moments.”  These are dynamic and random elements in an open-world game that, like Dug, the talking canine in Pixar’s Up, cause you to immediately stop whatever you’re doing and chase them. Upon hopping aboard my trusty steed again, a Rockstar rep mentioned that Marston can earn extra cash by killing and skinning wild animals. This revelation was the “squirrel moment” of the demo. Suddenly, I steered the horse toward a pack of wild deer. After blasting the tail off a white-tailed elk, I was able to skin it for cash. And no, it’s a “camera fades in on flayed carcass” presentation, you sicko. The real problem was when I attempted to skin other creatures for money. During this point of the demo, I discovered that neither horses, dogs, nor squirrels can be skinned for money. I was also told repeatedly that I am a horrible person for trying.

I watched the final mission hands-off, which features an alcoholic Irishman who Marston saves earlier in the game (and including a snippet of menacing dialogue that’ll go down as one of the best one-liners you’ll hear in a game this year). Marston needs a Gatling gun to invade a military fort. Irish knows where it is. Unfortunately, he’s as trustworthy as he’s a teetotaler and the gun’s nestled in the gold mines of very hostile terrain.

At this point, Dead Eye is upgraded to the point that Marston can hit multiple targets, and sure enough, my co-worker was able to take down armed miners with ruthless efficiency. Ultimately, Marston liberated the Gatling gun and got out of the mine in one piece. Irish managed to procure a mine cart to easily transport the weapon out of the mine and into the clutches of mutual parties. At this point, the term “on-rails shooter” took on its most literal form as Marston clung to the back of the cart and picked off gunmen while he rode along the tracks to safety.

After getting my first hands-on time with Red Dead Redemption, I’m much more excited and interested in playing it. Yes, the tech on display is impressive, but I saw that during my last presentation. It’s the promise of a vast world that’s teeming with activities off the well-traveled dirt roads that holds a lot of promise. And while some of the controls are still being fine-tuned, I sense that it’s all falling into place as I type this, and mostly for the better. I’m usually quite averse to Westerns, but after this first-run, I have a feeling that early May will be spent skinning deer and shooting bandits in the nether regions. Perhaps you should consider getting on board, too.

Comments are Closed

  • IamtheBat

    Game Of The Year, I think yessss

    Posted: January 29, 2010 2:46 AM
  • swordgoatz

    I saw a demo of RDR at PAX last year, and ever since then I haven't been able to wait for it to come out. Bottom line, if you're gonna make a western game, you have to model it after Clint Eastwood. Obviously using an Eastwood-esque premise to build upon (the mission I saw at PAX involved saving a person who was hanging from a noose) and adding state-of-the-art game mechanics, I feel like this is a game that could give Rockstar some credibility outside the everyday gamer market. A mom might never buy GTA for her kid, but Sergio Leone in video game form? That might be something even Fox News can wrap its head around.

    I got a gift certificate to Best Buy for Christmas and I'm waiting 'till April to spend it on Red Dead Redemption.

    Posted: January 28, 2010 11:56 PM
  • SirCitadel

    i just watched tombstone and ive got a hankerin to get my earp on.

    Posted: January 28, 2010 11:05 PM
  • DarthHerter

    RockStar games are made for ps3 so as it stands i will get it on ps3 for now at least

    Posted: January 28, 2010 9:10 PM
  • Rayzorshark

    Can you skin bandits for money?

    Posted: January 28, 2010 8:13 PM
  • Flynfsh

    man i've gotta play this game

    Posted: January 28, 2010 6:54 PM
  • iamosm

    Looks really sweet. Probably not gonna preorder it but I'll definitely buy it.

    Posted: January 28, 2010 6:35 PM
  • bobbyman128

    After seeing that video, it's a must have.

    Posted: January 28, 2010 5:35 PM
  • L4Dfan550

    Not Mass Effect 2, Not Bioshock 2, Not Heavy Rain BUT Red Dead Redemption is my most anticipated game of 2010. I have been yearning for a good western game and I have the utmost faith in Rockstar to pull it off!

    Posted: January 28, 2010 4:19 PM
  • cwhas2godhands


    Posted: January 28, 2010 2:54 PM

    this is pretty much a western version of GTA... which is awesome!

    Posted: January 28, 2010 2:42 PM
  • bmben

    It is a good time to be a gamer. I hate to be all "when I was young...", but holy future-is-today, Batman! I had PONG!!! And now I'm gonna get to play this!!

    Posted: January 28, 2010 12:15 PM
  • CokeAndASmoke

    I hope this is finally the western game I've been waiting for

    Posted: January 28, 2010 12:14 PM
  • muhaxdrag0n


    Posted: January 28, 2010 11:18 AM