By JD Phillips
I really wanted to wait until I finished the game to post a review, but after a week of getting distracted fishing and playing poker with my fellow gang members, it’s clear that it will be a long time before I will finish this game. It also proves that I don’t need to. “Red Dead Redemption 2” is nothing short of a triumph.
I loved the first game in the series. It was actually the first game I got on my Xbox 360 in college. I spent many hours roaming around its expansive map murdering every unfortunate npc that came my way. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the sequel ever since. Boy does it not disappoint.
It should be said that this is not a game for people who aren’t into story-centric single player games. The opening hours of this game are very slow paced and narrative focused. There are dozens of other moments where the game slows in order to focus on character conversations and development. If you’re looking to jump right into violence, you might be better served with a first-person shooter.
That’s not to say that this doesn’t have amazing sequences of high octane western violence. The sequel ups the ante in every way with an improved dead eye system, enhanced gun controls, and lots more blood (it was a special moment when someone tried to rob me and I realized I could decapitate someone with my sawed-off shotgun).
The game also features lots of amazing minigames and side activities. There’s fishing, poker, dominos, hunting, blackjack, hotels, saloons, bounties, chores, stranger requests, and lots of places to rob. It takes “Grand Theft Auto V”’s philosophy of immersive activities and dials it up to eleven.
Where this game overcomes its Rockstar predecessors is its amazing story. Most Rockstar games treat their source material with a strong satirical slant but RD2 goes all in to make a movie worthy storyline. It’s amazing how invested I’ve become in Arthur’s fellow gang members and their attempts to escape the ever approaching forces of the law.
It’s these story elements that really make the game one of the most immersive in the open world genre. GTA V had just as much to do, but I didn’t really care about anyone in Michael, Trevor, or Franklin’s lives. The missions in that game were often afterthoughts while I cruised around the expansive map, causing mayhem. In RD2, I hardly ever stray from the path to commit random murders. The life of Arthur Morgan is so interesting that I am barely ever tempted to break that immersion by flat-out shooting some annoying douche in town. It’s hard to make a story that is more fun than heaps of wild west anarchy, but this game manages to.
This immersive quality isn’t always a plus though. You end up spending a lot of your time riding across the giant map or slowly walking through camp. There are a few fast travel options but not nearly enough. The graphics and the map are absolutely stunning, but not as much when you are galloping along for fifteen minutes to get between missions.
If “Red Dead Redemption” is “The Godfather” of the western game genre, “Red Dead Redemption 2” is easily “The Godfather Part 2”. It’s another masterpiece in Rockstar’s increasingly impressive repertoire.