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...Yer Dead

2010-05-19

Silent arc ends today.  I really hope you enjoyed it and I appreciate everyone who stuck with me and took the time to read it.  Means a good deal.

Now on to the actual meat.  Red Dead Redemption.  Holy flippin' crap.  Game of the year?  Possibly too early to call as I'm not overly far in, but my goodness if it continues if this direction - and there is little reason to believe it won't - then yes.  Absolutely yes.  A few quick stories for you to possibly whet your appetite:

A woman stops me on the side of the road asking for a ride into town.  Being of the gentlemenly sort, I pull over to help.  She throws me from my horse and laughs as she rides away saying how "green" I am.  I laugh as I put a bullet in her back. 

While hunting down a bounty deep in a far-off canyon, I decide to sneak up on his tiny encampment as it's near dawn and I'm afraid the light will give me away.  Ditching my horse, I make my way through the brush and take out the first of his posse with a knife to the back.  Then someone spots me and the guns come out.  As I'm taking out the rest of his crew, this fool jumps on a horse and starts to make a quick get-away.  Now, I'm not one to kill an innocent, but I couldn't get a good-enough bead on him so I had to shoot his horse out from under him in order to buy me enough time.  Rest in peace, Mr. Ed.  Hog-tied him, dragged him back to my horse, and rode him into town for a nice payday.

While picking flowers out in the middle of nowhere I was bitten by a rattlesnake.  Not cool.

When a game has treasure maps that you can use to hunt down, well, treasure, it's usually just you opening the main Map screen and seeing the X marking said spot.  Not so here.  You have a handful of drawn clues - a tree next to a certain rock formation, the outline of a house, a quick scribble of a canyon and a camp - and you then have to find said treasure out in the world.  It's fantastic.  I genuinely feel as though I'm on a treasure hunt and when you finally figure it out and stumble across that "Ah Ha!" moment, it's a great feeling.  Such a good experience.  One treasure leads to another and I'm now hunting for the fourth.

The game has challenges that you can complete to raise your Fame, the above Treasure Hunts being one of them, along with Hunting, Sharpshooting, etc.  One of the Sharpshooting challenges I just finished had me shooting birds from a moving train.  How can that not be cool?  I mean honestly.  The Hunting challenge I'm currently on has me killing five wolves with a knife which seems...foolish.  I mean, I'll do it, but I have a feeling I'm not going to come away from that unscathed.  Perhaps I should try lassoing them first.  That may work.

What amazes me is the vast amount of stuff to do in this.  I think in the six some hours that I've played so far I've done only a handful of missions, five at the very most, and yet I've still experienced so much.  I love exploring the old west and where I am traditionally overwhelmed in open world games despite being drawn to them, I don't feel that here.  After a short time I typically just stick with questing as I know that's the best way to "beat" the game and I miss a lot of the side business as that just seems like a can of worms I'm not prepared to open but I am trying to stick my hand into every available pot possible in RDR and I just come away wanting more.  And the world is so organic.  Never have I seen a "sandbox" game that felt so cohesive and didn't come across as many parts glued together to create a disjointed whole.  The NPCs, the wildlife, the back alley brawl you can get into for cleaning a man out in poker, all of it make the Wild West come to life like few things else I've ever experienced.  Having a shootout aboard a run-away stagecoach where I escape just by the skin of my teeth and then crawl wounded to the edge of a hill to make camp and watch the storm clouds come rolling in is so brilliant and unscripted that I can't help but take pause.  Very rarely am I left in awe of a game and every corner and cactus I overturn creates that again and again.  The fact that RDR allows you to use the world to create your own story is what makes it so great.

And quickly, the multiplayer is a blast.  Still a few kinks to work out, but great overall and ridiculous amounts of fun and ridiculousness.  In the middle of some fights characters were disappearing though you could still see the gamertags, so that needs worked out.  And I was riding a donkey around when the donkey simply vanished though I was certainly still aboard.  That was awesome.