With only a couple of months left till it release it seems the people of Rockstar games are in full swing to show how their new game, Red Dead Redemption, dominates over every other western game in the past. Set in the dying days of the old west with modernization consuming the lands, players take control of ex-outlaw John Marston. While living out his peaceful life with his family his past rears its ugly head one day as agents from The Bureau, later to become the FBI, blackmail Marston into capturing the members of his old gang or have his family suffer the consequences. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a demo during PAX East and find out if this game can truly rise above the rest.
The demo kicked off in the middle of the blistering desert while on my faithful horse. My task was to meet up with the crazed old-loon Seth Briars and help him �acquire� a certain piece of property from some unsavory gentlemen. So I gave my horse a light kick to get him moving and immediately I was attacked by a pack of wolves. Wildlife plays an important role in Red Dead Redemption as you can Hunt down animals from mountain lions to armadillos and skin their hides to sell later in town. After learning of the weapon select wheel I quickly dispatched most of the pack as I saw the rest flee away from the scene. After acquiring some wolf meat I immediately gallop to my meeting with Seth as the sun started to set.
I arrived to the silent town just as night had fallen to find Seth in a recently dug up grave talking to a corpse as he looted its body. When he turned to find me behind him we immediately got down to business. Apparently the gentlemen I mentioned earlier were held up in an old mansion at the far end of the town. Inside there was a chest with something Seth desperately wanted and would risk both our lives to get it. So with both our own personal goals in mind we set out for the mansion guns blazing along the way.
During the gunfights I realized just how smooth the gunplay mechanics were. Rockstar, having much experience in this department, thanks to the GTA series seemed to have innovated the gun play so that it was well suited for the task at hand. When an enemy was in my field of vision I ducked out of cover and took aim and the cross-hairs would automatically lock on to that enemy. Of course I did have the option of aiming freely at where I wanted to shoot. As I demonstrated by firing a round in an outlaw’s leg and then watching him crawl on the ground for cover. Thanks to the RAGE and Euphoria engines enemies have very distinct ways of going down depending on where you shoot them. This was no more apparent then when I used the Dead Eye system for the first time.
At this point Seth and I had reached the Mansion only to find the doors and windows to be barricaded. So we went around the mansion to the cellar door and stormed through the basement. As I headed for the stairs there were two outlaws both up the stairs and down waiting to ambush me. But with a simple press of a button I entered into Dead Eye mode with my vision turning to sepia. Time went to a crawl as I was able to line up multiple shots on my two targets and when I fired a chain of gunfire was released from my revolver. With the foes in the basement taken care of, and their bodies looted for ammo and money, Seth and me went upstairs to the lobby and quickly dispatched another three goons causing a lot of destruction to the surrounding objects. The last one was taken care of at close range. With everything said and done (and shot) I busted through a door on the second floor shot the enemy guarding the chest and Seth started acting like a ten year old on his birthday as he hopped down to the ground to open the chest.
Unfortunately that’s where the demo ended leaving a huge cliffhanger in my head on what was in that chest to begin with. Guess we’ll have to get the game on May 18th to find out. But with my limited time playing as John Marston I can see why my hopes were up for this game being the one to do true justice for the Western game genre. All I have to say is that Rockstar; keep doing that voodoo that you do so well. And I’ll see you at the campfire.
- Lawrence Minor II