Game Review: Red Dead Redemption II

Let me tell you about the original Red Dead Redemption. I loved that game, I've beaten it four times. two as honorable and two as dishonorable. You can ask any of my friends or roommates from my freshman year of college, that game owned my first semester. I would spend hours roaming and hunting. Don't even get me started on Undead Nightmare and hunting mythical creatures. I would spend hours looking for a unicorn that farted rainbows.

Now, the sequel Red Dead Redemption II is actually a prequel. The twist is, we aren't playing as John Marston. We're playing as Arthur Morgan. John's psuedo big brother. The game takes place almost a decade before the original and sees them both as members of Dutch's gang. We also get to meet some of the original gang members. That includes Uncle. I'm sure John got his habit of abusing Uncle from Arthur. But, for what it's worth Uncle causes a lot more trouble than he's worth.

Most of the story follows as the gang avoids capture by the Pinkertons, US Marshals and just about every law man in every state. We also get plenty of intimate details about the gang. People are starting to realized that Dutch may not be all he's cracked up to be after a robbery in Blackwater turned bad. There's internal disputes such as John not wanting to believe that Jack is his son, but he doesn't want Arthur raising him either. All the while, John is willing to put a bullet in the head of anyone that touches him. The story is simple, but like all Rockstar games, the think that makes it great is the characters.

We know plenty of characters from the original game but we get a lot more background on them. Javier can't actually return to Mexico at the moment because of his wanted status. Bill claims he was in the army, nobody believes him. Hosea is the psuedo-father to John and Arthur. He's a crook, a conman and every other thing in the book. However, as Dutch rambles on about loyalty and running free being the most important thing; Hosea teaches John and Arthur about honor and finding peace. Hosea is still in the gang, because he lost the woman he loved. Therefore he sees no point in living a quiet life. Karen, Tilly and Mary-Beth are all working girls and robbers with the camp. They always argue about the role women play in society. Karen believes they are at the bottom and will remain that way. Tilly believes they need enough good men to make them equal and Mary will do anything she can to avoid dying as poor as she was.

There's a ton of non story dialogue that you will hear around camp about how different characters came to join, what they did before and other trials of their lives. I find these stories to be the most interesting. Take for instance Lenny. He's been on the run for murder for three years, since he was sixteen. He killed the men who lynched is father. Lenny's father was a slave, a "good ol house nigger," as he called him. One day he stopped the slave master's brother from raping a slave. The slave master shot his brother in front of everyone the next day. He gave Lenny's father a pocket watch and claimed time will catch up to everyone. When the Civil War ended he hung himself after setting his slaves free. Lenny's grandmother was a slave raped repeatedly. She was so young, she didn't realize she was pregnant and gave birth in a cotton field. She was forced to finish picking cotton before she could see the baby that would be Lenny's mother. One day the same slave master tried to rape Lenny's mother and Lenny's grandmother killed him. His mother had been on the run since then. Those are the kinds of back stories you get just speaking with gang members at campfires.

Everything about the original returns with improvements. Hunting, stranger missions, random encounters and everything else. Arthur even has his own Strange Man, in the form of a blind man who gives him prophecies such as "run from those who seek power, then keep running or help someone else run." New features are hit or miss. I don't care for cleaning my guns, but I think differing temperatures in different regions is great. I don't care for health cores as well as meters, but I think permadeath for horses was a great idea. Even if I don't like an idea, they all work seamlessly so there was a lot of thought put behind this.

One thing that cant' be overlooked is that the world feels alive. There are buildings being constructed that will finish as you play the game. There are forests that will be cut down. One of my favorite random encounters is with a father teaching his sons to build a house. If you come back later, they'll be further along. This continues until they finish the house and sell it. Town are constantly expanding and nothing stands still. The world feels alive in a way the original tried. Don't get me wrong the original did the best it could. The further you went East, the more modern things became. But, this one does so much more to make the world feel real.

What a world it is too. It's beautiful. The wildlife is beautiful even the cougar that will inevitably kill you. The animals all have different fur patterns. I know it's probably random form a few choices or whatever but looking at two right next to each other won't be the same. There's different sized horses that characters will ride, including donkeys. Mud stains clothes, and stays when fighting in mud. Every aspect of this world is incredibly detailed down to your horse's testicles and fecal matter. It's incredible.

It's clear, I love the game, my gripes are minimal. The problem is, I haven't made it out of Chapter 4 yet. It's got me in the same trap as the original. I'm no longer taking on gang hideouts and capturing bounties between hunting like the original; now I hunt, fish and seek out random encounters. I'll make it out of Chapter 4 one day. For now, it is the perfect game for me. It'll probably still be perfect after that.

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Game Review: Red Dead Redemption II Game Review: Red Dead Redemption II Reviewed by Blerds Online on Monday, November 26, 2018 Rating: 5

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