With Rockstar Studios getting all the not-so-desired attention with the recent controversy in regards to its crunch work culture and such, it’s a wonder if it would impact the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR2). As they all say; there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and with $725 million generated from its opening weekend, the game has been flying off shelves (physically and digitally) without a hitch.
Regardless, after spending a good amount of time with the game, I just can’t help but be amazed with all the hard work that has been put in such a game with a scale this huge, as well as the attention to detail that follows it. Even on the regular PS4 that I tested the game on, I was blown away by the game’s overwhelming visuals. Granted, to fully appreciate the game’s beauty you have to play it on the PS4 Pro with a 4K screen.
This town ain’t big enough, but...
With a large open-world map consisting of five fictional American states and a ridiculous amount of content scattered throughout, it’s almost to no exaggeration if I said Red Dead Redemption 2 is larger than the whole state of Texas. On the PS4, installing the game requires about 92 GB of space from a two-disc installation, and I hope you have something else to keep you occupied because it’ll take a long while for the installation and patch download to finish. Longer if you’ve picked up the digital version, but still… the wait is shorter than waiting for an actual sequel eight years after the original game. Once everything is saddled up and ready to go, giving Red Dead Redemption 2 a ride was definitely worth the wait.
It’s about time that The Witcher 3 and Horizon: Zero Dawn to step aside because this game is downright gorgeous - be it characters, animals, and the world its built on. Red Dead Redemption 2 is no short on breathtaking vistas thanks to its impressive draw distance and graphics rendering. Probably the only thing missing for me in this game is a glorious screaming cowboy superimposed to the sky. Oh well.
The story so far
The game is set 12 years before the first game and follows Arthur Morgan, a member of Dutch Van der Linde’s gang. After a ferry heist gone awry, the gang was forced to flee Blackwater to lay low from the law. Setting up a temporary home in New Hanover, the gang (with your help) rebuilt themselves by acquiring funds and resources with hopes to recover from their fall from grace. Interesting to note is that you’ll encounter a younger John Marston, protagonist of the first game, as a fellow member of your gang.
After a lengthy opening sequence of about an hour, the world of RDR2 is made open for you to sink your teeth in with plenty of quests and activities throughout. These include doing oddjobs for the locals, bounty hunting for law, hustling in a game of cards, robbing moving trains, and even a quiet afternoon of fishing - more than enough things for you to literally play cowboy. Be wary of your actions, of course, for every action has a reaction. Depending on what activities you partake in, your actions will affect your moral score as the game goes on. Side with the law, bad guys will start sending assassins after you. Lean too much on the bad side of things, be prepared for bounty hunters and lawmen. Sometimes being a complete stranger isn’t so bad after all.
Interactivity in RDR2 is the most comprehensive that I’ve ever experienced in an open-world game. These include taming horses and dogs, looting valuables from drawers and shelves, and my personal favourite: interacting with the locals. Every single one of them. Sure, our interactions with them are not as in-depth like games such as Mass Effect, but enough to make our cowboy roleplay a whole lot of fun. Greet a stranger, compliment their hat, and just when they’re feeling flattered by your charming words, pull out a gun to their head and demand them to pay up. Or just for the hell of it, you can holster your gun after and reveal that you were only joking. No, seriously. I love this game.
Aim like a pro, move like a drunk
Like its predecessor, gunplay controls is pretty solid with its aim assist working buttery smooth as you shoot down outlaws and lawmen alike. The handy Dead Eye mechanic which allows you to slow down time and target critical points makes a return as well. In a realistic approach, Arthur will only have his pistol equipped at all times. It’s possible to have him equipped with multiple armaments, but that can only be done when you are close to his horse which serves as equipment storage. When off from missions or when Arthur is killed in action, all of his additional weapons are returned to his horse.
Not to say the game is flawless;expect several hilarious (but not game breaking) bugs to be encountered throughout the game. What did annoy me was the slow response rate when controlling Arthur’s movement. Like a stubborn mule, getting him to turn or move felt like a chore. Disappearing trains and floating NPCs? I can live with that. Arthur’s sluggish movement controls needs to be addressed first, Rockstar.
It’s high noon
With all that said and despite wanting to glorify crunching its employees to exhaustion, Rockstar has indeed created another masterpiece in their hands. Credited or not, the efforts of the people who have contributed to the creation of the game is to be highly appreciated. For the fans who’ve waited patiently for a follow-up to the first game, Red Dead Redemption 2 is all that you’ve hoped for and will definitely keep you occupied for weeks or even months.