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HOWDY

22 May 2010

The talk of the town (or, more appropriately, the cash cow of the town) is Red Dead Redemption. This game can be summed up rather plainly and unflatteringly as Grand Theft Horse, despite there having been multiple games in the past that stole that moniker away from Rockstar. Red Dead Redemption blows them clean out of the water.

For someone intimately familiar with GTA4, accepting that it was the clear template for Red Dead (as it is lovingly dubbed), the game is nonetheless intent on confusing the player at the outset. Its mechanics, that we’ve known and loved in Liberty City, are suddenly unfamiliar and unknowable in the wild west. What is this fame thing that sometimes comes tumbling into my pocket in numeric quantities, what does it do? When does the game save, if it does so in the first place? And why can’t I jump off my horse in mid-flight, leaving the trailing beast to crash into a wall as I did with its steel counterpart in years past? Red Dead assumes these mechanics to be clear and takes little effort to explain them, leaving the player puzzled and mystified. Four hours in and I have no clue how to duel and why the first time I shot that bowler hat wearing punkster dead, the second time he served me up a steak béarnaise without breaking a sweat.

A little digging will obviously remedy that and I get the feeling Red Dead will then offer something unique and exciting. Already, I’m enjoying simply roaming the prairie shooting down vultures and hawks from the air, collecting herbs and skinning coyotes. I call this ‘The Warcraft Incentive’. Before long, my desperado will graduate to the cleansing of thieves’ hideouts, gang-filled clefts and once-abandoned gold mines. Giddy-up!

Roderick