on June 4, 2012
There is so much to love about this game that I don't know where to start! You assume the role of John Marston, a retired outlaw whose family is abducted by the government and used as a bargaining tool; John can see his family once he kills the remaining members of his former gang. John's quest sends him across the American West (specifically a fictionalized Texas and Mexico) of 1911, where locomotives are nearing their Golden Age, automobiles are just seeing the light of day, horses are the main form of transportation, and lawlessness abounds. This is an open-world game where you can explore at will, hunt, take on storyline quests as well as numerous sidequests, play minigames (like poker, horseshoes, blackjack, or liar's dice), purchase weapons and clothing, and try to bring peace to your part of the world. Marston is a lovable and complex character who likens his former-self to Robin Hood and his current-self to a simple but honorable husband, though in truth he straddles the line between the good and the bad (and maybe even the ugly when you consider the scars on his hardened face). The characters you encounter are both charming and despicable, and always full of life. You can play as a fearless justice or ravage the land with your cruel deeds; the choice is yours. Horseback-riding is a ton of fun, the visuals, particularly the open plains at sunset, are gorgeous, and the controls are fluid and easy to pick up. The story, gameplay, and exploration will undoubtedly get you hooked. And then there is multiplayer...
In addition to the single-player experience (which includes the exciting zombie-mode, Undead Nightmare) there is a multiplayer mode. Actually, there are more multiplayer modes than I can name here! You choose a character, a horse to ride, and a title that other players will see just for fun, then get dumped in a free roam session, which plays much like the regular game. From there you can carry out missions with other players, verse them in minigames or alternate modes (like capture the flag or horse races), team up with a posse, or simply try to be the last man standing. You earn money for completing objectives or killing people, and the money you earn increases your online level (up to level 50) and allows you to unlock new weapons, mounts (they're not all horses), and titles. Although the online system could be more streamlined (you have to wait until you're in a free roam session before you can enter specific game modes), it is really enjoyable and never boring because of how much there is to do!
In short, Red Dead Redemption is not a game to be missed for open-world game fans, even if you don't enjoy westerns (I didn't think I would until I picked up this title). It is hands-down the best Rockstar title I've played, and I don't remember the last time I grew so attached to a main character. I applaud Rockstar for the top-notch dialogue, voice-acting, and story, on top of the engrossing gameplay. And, with nearly 100 achievements to unlock, this is a game that will keep you coming back for more!