Galloping into the #16 Position…
I love a good Western. There’s something incredibly romantic and other-worldly about the Old West that always hooks me in. The best Westerns are better than the crème da le crème of almost any other genre as far as I’m concerned. The Magnificent Seven, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, Unforgiven, Tombstone, and then into the modern era with HBOs underappreciated and masterful Deadwood, Westerns have always been a rich and fruitful backdrop for stories not just about the formation of America but about the human condition in general. Thankfully, someone at Rockstar noticed that and we wound up getting Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption. Up until the Red Dead games, I can’t think of a single video game that ever came close to doing the Western genre justice. Shit, I can’t even think of one that was even anything approaching good. Most of the time you saw anything related to the Old West in a video game, it was for comedic effect, and sometimes it was just catastrophically terrible. For instance, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, had the horrifyingly named Bury My Shell At Wounded Knee level, which was not only fucking offensive as all hell but also had absolutely squat to do with anything vaguely related to Wounded Knee. Unbelievable. But I digress. The point here is that up until the Red Dead games, Westerns in gaming were criminally ignored, and when they weren’t they were done so badly that you were better off not knowing about them. Rockstar changed all that.
SEE? I DON’T HATE ROCKSTAR, JUST GTA!
Part of what grates on me so badly about the GTA games is that they’re from the same studio that gave us Red Dead Revolver/Redemption. Red Dead Redemption (since that’s what we’re reviewing here) is a masterpiece in pretty much every way a video game can be. You have excellent gameplay and mechanics, a wonderfully detailed and moving story, a protagonist that’s sympathetic but still a badass, tremendous music and visuals, and a rich and interesting world in which to experience it all. It doesn’t really get much better than this. I know, I’m gushing a bit about this, but fuck it; Red Dead absolutely deserves the praise. I can’t talk about the ending without completely spoiling it, so I’ll let you find that one out for yourself but, suffice to say, it’s really god damn good. Now, if you’ve read some of my other reviews on this countdown you’ve probably heard me say some less than kind things about Rockstar’s flagship franchise, Grand Theft Auto. Part of the reason that I’m so critical of GTA is because Rockstar has proved they can make truly phenomenal games that have real depth and emotional resonance, and they seem to forget how to do that whenever they make a GTA game. So, yeah. Red Dead beats the everloving shit out of GTA as far as I’m concerned. And, let’s not discount the fact that Red Dead Redemption has much better glitches!
COWBOYS AND ALIE… I MEAN ZOMBIES. COWBOYS AND ZOMBIES. WHICH IS IN NO WAY JUST AS DUMB AS COWBOYS AND ALIENS.
The whole Zombie DLC is really my only beef with Red Dead Redemption. I don’t like when a game that’s, for all intents and purposes, grounded in what you’d call standard reality suddenly goes all “Holy fuck now there are zombies ZOMG AWESOME RIGHT!?!?!” It just kinda messes with the whole vibe of the game and makes things weird. I understand that its meant to be campy, tongue-in-cheeky style fun but it always grates on me a little bit. I have no problem with a game being fantastical, but if you’re going to adhere to the laws of nature in the core game and then veer hard left onto Zombie Boulevard in a DLC I’m calling bullshit on that. There’s too much zombie crap going on nowadays anyway, and there are enough games out there that are completely about zombies that I think it’s safe to say we don’t need Red Dead Redemption Z to get us through the day.
ON A PALE HORSE
Do yourself a favor and go play this game if you haven’t. It still holds up ridiculously well, and it’s a story you really ought to treat yourself to. If I start talking more about it I’ll just wind up ranting about how awesome it is again, so I’ll spare you. This game absolutely deserves the 5 out of 5 I’m leaving it with. Go play it and you’ll see why.