Do you have a lot of time to play video games? Rockstar clearly thinks so as Read Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2 from now on) will take you upwards of 40 hours to complete – and that's assuming you focus only on the core story missions. The narrative is epic in scope; protagonists and villains are both complex and fascinating; the world is vast, intricately detailed, and full of things to do. When RDR2 remembers that it’s an action-adventure video game, not a 1000-page audio-visual novel, it’s easily Rockstar’s finest to date; however, it often displays callous disregard for your time and can feel like a chore to play.
Following in the footsteps of the critically-acclaimed first game - which RDR2 is a prequel to - was never going to be an easy task. The story puts us in the boots of a new and previously-unmentioned protagonist, Arthur Morgan, who was raised in Dutch’s gang for almost as long as he remembers. He’s deeply loyal but knows the era of outlaws is ending. He’s risen through the ranks as Dutch’s right-hand man - becoming an adoptive son of sorts - and takes the lead in his most elaborate plans. It’s the perfect setup for the players to witness the slow and steady decline of Dutch’s gang first-hand, and their leader’s transformation into the merciless sociopath that John Marston would hunt down years later.
There are dozens of story missions that focus purely on character relationships, with major events that push the overarching plot forward only cropping up near the beginning and end of each chapter.
The size of the world works against the narrative pacing but it certainly feels immersive.
Authentic ambient sounds give every location a life-like feel. Music elevates the action sequences or lengthy rides into unknown territory.
The most notable new feature is a button dedicated to interacting with NPCs and objects, allowing you to instigate dialogue with other gang members and key characters, or simply greet and antagonize the rest of the population.
Applying gun oil? Looting a corpse? Skinning an animal? Eating or drinking? Feeding or brushing your horse? If the action exists, RDR2 has detailed animation, longer than it needed to be...
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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PS4, Xbox One
26 October 2018
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