Red Dead Redemption

If I’ve talked to you in the last couple weeks, I’ve probably mentioned the game Red Dead Redemption, probably with the words “awesome!” and “so fun!” involved. I realized I haven’t blogged about it, so here we go!

RDD is from the folks who brought the world Grand Theft Auto, and is basically the same game, just set in the old West. I bought it for that piece I wrote for Filament magazine a few months back, and really liked it, but sort of got distracted and stopped playing. I’m back at it now, though, and OMG IT IS SO FUN. For one thing, there’s now an expansion that lets you play a version where your character is battling a zombie plague.

You heard me right. Zombies. In the old West. And yes, Marston’s on a zombie horse. The plague affects animals, too (you haven’t lived til you’ve been attacked by zombie coyotes).

Anyway: you can do pretty much whatever you want in the game, outlaw stuff or law-abiding stuff, and it affects the behavior of others around you. For example, doing good guy stuff (like rescuing people or bringing in wanted criminals) will make folks give you discounts and be more likely to ignore it if you do commit a crime around them. If you do outlaw stuff (like stealing or killing people) the law will come after you, and if you do enough, bounty hunters will show up and try to take you down every so often. You can bribe witnesses to your crimes as well as the lawmen who come after you.

The main plot, which is seriously maybe 25% of the gameplay if you’re like me, concerns your character, John Marston, having to hunt down a guy he used to be in a gang with. The feds are blackmailing Marston into doing the job since they can’t manage to do that. Marston isn’t happy about it — he’s trying to go straight — but the feds are threatening his family, so he does it.

There are some annoyances to the game, of course, but mostly it’s surprisingly awesome. When you’re on horseback, the interactions with the horse are very similar to riding in real life (like, your horse won’t run off a cliff, and if you keep kicking it all the time to go faster, it will buck you off). You can shoot wild animals (and sometimes have to — if you follow me on Twitter you know about the cougars that will try to kill you if they find  you) and then skin them and sell off their parts to make money. There are minigames like poker, liar’s dice, and horseshoes, and so on. There are duels and stuff, too.

My favorite thing about the game, though, is probably the art and music. Just riding around in the game is really beautiful. The art is gorgeous, and you can hear birds and various wildlife around you, and the music manages to be enjoyable and reminiscent of all the movies and tv shows set in the West without being annoying.

Nate and I have just recently started playing together online — you can be one of a host of characters (not Marston) and do things like roust gangs out of their hideouts. It’s the only way to do multiplayer, which is annoying, but it’s really fun, and if you both wear XBox Live headsets, it’s almost like playing in the same room. Since I have the zombie pack, I can play as a zombie, so I have been. It’s kind of hilarious to see townsfolk talking politely to a bloody lady zombie as if she were just another person passing through.

It’s reached the point where if I’m not at work or Aikido or working on a book, I’m almost certainly playing RDR. This game rocks.

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