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Realism over Gameplay

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    Red Dead Redemption 2

    Rating: 3.0 – Fair

    Realism over Gameplay

    Read Dead Redemption 2 is newest game by Rockstar, known for their famous Grand Theft Auto series. It’s a prequel to the first Red Dead game, released in 2010. It’s an open-world game with a western setting. It has a notable focus on realism, which I’ll explain later.

    It’s a very nice looking game as a whole. I wasn’t amazed by the graphics for the most part but it is very pretty. Same goes for the sound. While for the most part I found the music to be fairly typical open-world fare, it gets the job done, with there being a few standouts. The voice acting is excellent, as you’d expect from a Rockstar game.

    You play as a guy that’s part of a group of outlaws that’s on the run from the law. This story moves at a very slow pace. The way it progresses is a little strange. In a game such as The Witcher 3, Skyrim, Fallout 4, etc. you have your list of sidequests and you have a main quest. You simply mark down the main quest and you can follow it easily enough. In Red Dead to move the story along you do scenarios involving other characters. Some of these scenarios will lead into the main plot, some won’t. Due to this it can often feel like you’re doing busywork instead of anything plot-related. Still, despite the slow pace it’s well-told. The slower pace allows for much more build up where you can get to know the characters more gradually and see how they change throughout the game. That said, I wasn’t blown away by the characters. They were good or really good, and not much more then that.

    Now, while the visuals, sound, and story may be great, what about the gameplay? Unfortunately, this is where things aren’t so great. The controls are very slow and clumsy. I found it agonizing to maneuver around tight spaces in third-person. The movement in first-person is much better thankfully, but that doesn’t solve all of the game’s control issues. As I mentioned earlier, this game has a noticeable focus on realism. This ¡°realism¡± comes through in the form of more animations for certain things and mild survival game mechanics. When you loot corpses there’s a fairly lengthy animation that plays. Fishing around in a house for items takes much longer compared to other games due to there being slow animations for opening drawers and picking up items. When you kill animals you don’t just take loot from their body, you skin them and watch an animation play out. Those are just some examples of these animations added in to make the game feel more realistic. While I like the idea, I don’t like how it’s executed. I tired of these animations soon after the novelty wore off.

    This game also has an obsession with button holding inputs. You have to hold a button to skin an animal, hold a button to skip a cutscene, hold a button to loot a body, hold a button to open a drawer, etc. This makes many actions take much longer then they should.

    The game is very, very scripted during missions. This is at odds with the rest of the open-world part of the game. During missions you can fail for the simplest of things such as veering off path for a few seconds, not following along the rigid path closely enough, and so on. It also has a habit of forcibly slowing you down or taking away your control in some other way. You can be running around then suddenly be forced into an agonizingly slow walk or you’ll suddenly realize during a mission that while you’re riding your horse, you actually can’t do anything but ride straight ahead. You can’t turn left or right, you’re forced to move along with the others. In situations like that I don’t know why it couldn’t have just been a cutscene instead.

    The combat isn’t bad. It’s pretty typical shooter gameplay, with the main unique feature being the ¡°Dead Eye¡± bullet time slow mode. While the combat isn’t outstanding (Or realistic in the slightest) it is entertaining enough. However, the game has a bizarre and highly irritating habit of unequipping your guns. This can lead to you getting into a fight where you find that your favored shotgun isn’t available because the game put it away while you were riding your horse. I fail to see what that adds to the game and it’s one of the game’s many little annoyances.

    There is a huge amount of gameplay variety in this game. You can partake in duels, play various games such as Poker, Blackjack, or Dominoes, get into fistfights at saloons, rob banks, go hunting, fishing, and so on. While gameplay variety is always a nice thing, it doesn’t mean much if you don’t like the gameplay much. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed by all the things you can do. This is certainly a very ambitious game.

    Besides the controls, my main problem is that a lot of time in game is spent doing pretty much nothing. The world is absolutely massive yet barren. The points of interest on the map are separated by huge, empty expanses of nothingness. Going from point to point while exploring the world or during missions, it struck me how much of this ¡°dead time¡± there was in the game. There is so much galloping around while listening to people talk, and not everything the NPCs say is interesting. There are even missions where you go far off to an area, then go back, then go back to that area again.

    Read Dead Redemption 2 is game of stellar presentation and huge ambition but highly lacking in gameplay. While I did enjoy it more then I didn’t, I can’t ignore the massive flaws the game has. My final score is 6/10.

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