Back in 2010, Rockstar Games released Red Dead Redemption for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. RDR was a phenomenal game and received great accolades. So, the hype for the next game in the series was unreal and also justified. At the time of writing this review, Read Dead Redemption 2 sales had hit 17 million copies in the first eight days.
The plot of RDR 2 revolves around Arthur Morgan, a trusted lieutenant in the Dutch Van der Linde’s gang. The year is 1899, Arthur and other gang members are on the run and in the search of a perfect hideout. Their motive is simple – keep a low profile but do not let go of an opportunity to make a quick buck. The game starts in a snow-laden part of the map. The tempo of the game is really slow but that it is how it is meant to be. You are slowly introduced to the characters and the relationship each of them shares with other gang members. Once you set base in the first camp at Horseshoe Overlook, close to this town called Valentine, you are truly in awe of the spectacular world Rockstar Games has built.
As you interact with characters around you, new opportunities open up. You are tasked to plot a train heist, recover debts for a loan shark or simply get drunk with another gang member. Every task, no matter how simple or difficult, is an experience in itself. It also highlights the attention to detail the developers have paid to make the world so reactive. You are in control of your actions, you can choose to accept or decline a plea or a request. The Honor System returns wherein your actions determine how the world looks at you. At some stores, you also get a discount if your Honor meter is high enough. What has also been restored from the first game is the combat and gunplay. It takes a while though to get used to the controls. The best part about Red Dead Redemption 2 is how alive the world is. You commit a crime and lawmen are out there to get you soon enough. As Arthur Morgan, if you do not shave for a few days, your stubble grows thicker. You also have to eat right to stay healthy. Overeating will make you overweight which in turn will hamper your agility. At the same time, you have to feed your horse to maintain the stamina and health. If you have to travel to a chilly region, you have to take a coat along, otherwise, your health starts deteriorating rapidly. Even your gun has to be oiled regularly to stop it from malfunctioning. It’s things like these which take you out of your living room and place you in 1899 America. Once you start the game, there is no turning back. You live, eat and breathe Arthur Morgan.
From the first snow-laden mountain, the open-world is breath-taking. There are deserts and green fields, small towns and big cities, railway tracks and unmade roads, everything is so wonderfully created. The world is buzzing with people and wildlife. You can go fishing and hunting to provide food, money or materials for crafting items. You have to frequently donate to the camp fund and upgrade items as well to keep the mood in the camp happy. Every town you go to has a grocery store, arms dealer, sheriff’s office and more importantly, post office where you can pay your bounty. One frustrating aspect is the lack of fast travel. You can do that only after your camp is upgraded and that is limited too.
It isn’t easy to live with the tag ‘makers of Grand Theft Auto V’. GTA V was easily one of the best video games ever made and there are more than 90 million copies sold worldwide. The game after such a successful one invites undue pressure but Rockstar Games have delivered a fantastic game with one of the liveliest open-worlds out there. The gripping storyline, powerful characters, and various sub-plots make you keep coming back for more. And once you’re done with the main quest, hold onto that copy, there is more to come with Read Dead Online.
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