Watching Red Dead Redemption

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I don't have a whole lot to say on Red Dead Redemption, as I myself am not playing it.  Though I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, I haven't yet played many "sandbox" games, or enough Rockstar to offer a well-informed opinion.  Things I have enjoyed watching Red Dead Redemption, though:

  • The setting shows as much or more love and research as any of Rockstar's previous games.  I remember wandering Liberty City with my Gamelab friends looking for our respective apartments, and noting whose home blocks were or weren't on the map.  The attention to details was great enough to call out features of individual and otherwise unremarkable buildings.
  • In RDR, I can practically smell the west.  My family traveled a lot while I was in middle and high school.  We'd fly out to family in Denver, then take a few weeks of summer to drive around -- a north loop one year, several south loops over other years.  We camped out under the stars with my aunt and uncle.  The depiction of the area between the Rockies and the Sierras could hardly be more accurate or evocative.  The flora changes as you rise in elevation, in recognizable ways.  The washes and arroyos are clearly from very specific reference.  When night falls and the moon comes out, the high desert changes perfectly to show the sharp shadows and frosty-looking sage.
  • It's got honor, and fame, but no clear game advantage depending on it.  After a few recent discussions (Ethics and Game Design and some GDC talks) I'm pleased to see that little depends on your honor.  You don't get easy outs from being particularly honorable -- just easier access to side missions, as far as I've seen.
  • I'm not generally keen on westerns, but something in RDR strikes me as pulling out the best of the genre.  The sense of freedom on the frontier, and the craziness and loneliness that it could have taken to live there, comes through in a sandbox game.  What I've seen of the GTA games and their stories seem driven of desperation or avarice, and the city seems like mostly a distraction and a series of obstacles on your way to the goal.  (Granted, I have not played them much.)  In RDR, the frontier feel seems appropriate.  There's a lot you can do, and you can just do things to get by.  If you're going to succeed, you'll have to decide that you're going to step up and go for it.  That seems very western-genre to me.

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This page contains a single entry by Scott Price published on May 21, 2010 10:51 PM.

Play-Log: 30 Second Hero #1 was the previous entry in this blog.

Serious Games are Getting Serious is the next entry in this blog.

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