Red Dead Redemption 2

My name is Steven and I’m a cowboy now. I know next-to-nothing about horses, I couldn’t hogtie a critter to save my life and I’m not one for hats of any kind. That being said, Rockstar Games’ “Red Dead Redemption 2” allows me to live out my dreams of being a cowboy, which were dreams I didn’t even know I had.

The game is a prequel to “Red Dead Redemption” and chronicles the adventures of Arthur Morgan, an outlaw that has lived his entire life in the Van der Linde gang. Morgan does his best to pull his weight in the gang and help further gang leader and father-figure Dutch Van der Linde’s goals of freedom. When a botched ferry heist forces the gang to flee their hideout in Blackwater, Van der Linde has the gang pull increasingly dangerous jobs under the pretenses that every score goes a way to fueling the gang’s escape to a safer place.

Controlling Morgan feels a lot like controlling other protagonists in today’s gaming world; assassins, mafiosos, Hylian heroes and any other character in an open-world game: they all sort of control the same. The real difference in “RDR2” is in controlling Morgan when he’s on horseback. Anything you can do on foot can basically be done while riding a horse and it’s all the more thrilling when done. Morgan can own multiple horses and every horse can be bonded with; Morgan can perform extra tricks with his horse as their bond increases — this unlocks more possibilities when Morgan has the reins in his hands. What starts as galloping and jumping leads to rearing, skid-stopping and even drifting, which I didn’t even know could be done on a horse.

The gunfighting is pretty basic, but it’s expected from a game set in 1899. You point the cursor over what you want to turn into swiss cheese, you pull the trigger and it happens. The other end of the gunplay lies in the Dead Eye system, which freezes time for a limited period and allows Morgan to get in the kinds of shots that would leave John Wayne envious.

Juxtaposing the gunfights is a surprisingly complex hand-to-hand combat system. The game doesn’t waste time explaining many of the nuances to you; a stranger knocks Morgan’s hat off of his head and you’re just expected to understand how to time your blocks to throw off his guard and leave him open for a strike. Players can mount their opponents, throw them around, choke the life out of them and even nix the fight altogether and grab their gun if they think the fight isn’t going their way.

The amount of depth in this game is of no surprise to anyone familiar with other Rockstar games. Hunting animals, robbing the populace, wiping out rival gangs, random encounters with strangers on the road: this game has enough variety to it to keep you playing it for a long time. Fans of Rockstar know that the game doesn’t end when the credits roll; the developers have already promised an online multiplayer mode, and many fans are hoping for a sequel to “Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare,” a popular zombie-themed downloadable addition to the original title, further down the road. With as much fun as “RDR2” has been, you can bet I’ll be keeping my cowboy hat close.

I give this video game 5 out of 5 stars. 

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Steven Gonzalez
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Red Dead Redemption 2

by Steven Gonzalez time to read: 2 min