Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great joy that I inform you the spirit of the classic western is alive and well. But said spirit is not flourishing in an epic motion picture as one might expect. Instead, my undying gratitude goes out to the guys and gals at Rockstar Games, and their latest video game, Red Dead Redemption.
If I were to sum up the experience of this game in one sentence, I would say, “Red Dead Redemption is the greatest mother-fucking western video game ever.” And I have said that, actually. But, when you stop to look at all of the previous western video games that have hit the market over the last couple of decades, such a positive claim sounds questionable: let’s face it, with the exception of the PS2 entry Gun, most western video games have sucked some serious ass. And not in a good way, either.
Previously in the land of games set in the Wild West, the option for players to roam freely about the countryside and perfect their skills was rarely available — and extremely limited if it was available. Characters were as one-dimensional as a stick figure drawn by a child with cerebral palsy. Storylines were so bad that they made even the dullest Clint Eastwood westerns seem like Academy Award winning material. But, worst of all, most western video games before this one followed a dull, paint-by-numbers formula that had you standing at the customer service counter and asking for your money back within a matter of hours.
Not so with Red Dead Redemption (the greatest mother-fucking western video game ever).
Our story begins in New Austin, 1911. Former outlaw John Marston (voiced by John Wiethoff) has been brought in by the recently formed Federal Government (who everyone hates, and feels are just a bunch of crooks — did I mention there’s a lot of political undertones in this one? No? Well, there is!) to dispose of notorious bad guy Bill Williamson, whom our anti-hero once rode with back in the day. After an attempt at a “peaceful” negotiation with Williamson leaves him lying on the ground with a bullet implanted in his torso, Marston is rescued by a local rancher and thus begins our adventure in an untamed land where a kind word and a gun gets you a lot farther than just a kind word.