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Rockstar comes close but misses the mark even with Deadeye

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    Red Dead Redemption 2

    Rating: 4.0 – Great

    Rockstar comes close but misses the mark even with Deadeye

    First of all if you have played a Rockstar game before, you should know this game fits right into that mold almost exactly so that should give you a good idea of how the game plays and about its pacing.

    The story is methodical and packed full of the typical ride, rob and run missions. There is an excellent amount of side character development via dialogue here so if you like the western genre, there is plenty here for you to digest. Some of the payoffs for the story missions are well worth the effort while others seem like drawn out tutorial sequences just to introduce a game mechanic here and there. You can’t influence the main story at all with any player choice at all. The side quests otherwise known as "stranger encounters" feel very dynamic and give the most choice in the game. This where RDR2 really shines. Events that trigger outside of the main story arcs really give the feeling of a living world although later in the game some of these events lose their luster and get repetitive. The best moments are away from the main game interacting with the world around you which is an interesting approach to the game design.

    The game’s systems are all over the place. Some of what is done: eating, hunting, fishing, outfits based on weather and horse bonding are pretty good. Upgrading your camp also seems good until you start realizing that money is pretty easy to come by and the upgrades don’t matter much game wise. Using items during gameplay is clunky and I almost never crafted anything because it wasn’t needed. Bounties can often leave you wondering what caused such a commotion when other times nothing happens at all and the law is down right dirty. You can even do chores at the camp and bring in supplies, but again it makes almost no impact to the gameplay. Also during the game your stat meters actually improve based on story completion and actions, but if you are looking for a deeper RPG experience with upgrades that matter, RDR2 may not be for you. These systems are very similar to GTA5. Also there are systems that are very chore-like which you can skip, but the game’s attention to realism seems to go right out the window when a mission decides to make something easier for the player or force you into a situation. These systems combined with the issues with controls and player agency really hurt this game and I’m surprised more reviews don’t hit on this more.

    Controls are where Rockstar did not improve. Character movement is laggy and weighty for no reason. Being able to play in 1st person is great except the cover systems kind of force you out of it. Contextual controls sometimes lead to unwanted actions like choking someone to death rather than jumping on your horse. It is almost exactly like GTA5 here. Not sure why in this generation of games, Rockstar still isn’t on the level of Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed, but it is what it is. I wonder if it is this way on purpose to cut down on the laggy feel that the online mode would have? There are moments in this game where you are in the middle a huge payoff mission and your character snaps to the wrong cover or you hitch left during a chase. It was annoying enough to break immersion. Overall the amount of choice control wise is pretty darn good though. Being able to go hand to hand, stealth, talk to or dispatch NPCs with several weapons and options can make up for the frustration here and there with the controls.

    The environments are pretty damn great! The rain, fog and day/night cycles make the crazy amount of horse riding in the game worth the effort setting up cinematic mode. Towns are very well done and detailed. NPCs add flair here and there while the random stage, lawman or house off the path do make you want to take a detour. Rockstar is at the pinnacle of this part of the open world genre and they have pushed the envelope here again, no doubt improving over GTA5. I think this part of the game alone is what is generating all the perfect scores out there. If you can see yourself just enjoying the pure environmental wonder of the game after seeing a few videos, then I’d pick the game up for sure. For me personally, it isn’t even close to enough to justify a flawless game, but stellar at the core.

    Overall I’d like to issue a warning about this game. If you are making a buying decision, please consider reading criticisms of the game and not dismiss them as the usual "hate" on a highly acclaimed game. RDR2 is an great game, it pushes the genre and will be even more value when the online part of it comes out, but it suffers from the typical Rockstar problems and I think there are plenty of people out there who are probably better off either waiting for a discount or skipping it. I think it fair to say fans of the series and of Rockstar are already on board.

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