Westerns are almost an untapped area of inspiration in the current console cycle and have been massively overlooked in the past as well, the recent attempts haven’t managed to capture my attention so I was interested to see what Red Dead Redemption would have to offer when the Rockstar guys showed up to let us have a look at an early build. Will it be the adventure that the shooter that gets people interested in the old west? That’s a question that will have to wait for the final release, but my level of interest after the walkthrough is something that can be gauged.
Red Dead Redemption is the love child of Rockstar San Diego, the folks behind the Rockstar advanced game engine and the ButtonMasher favourite Rockstar presents Table Tennis. The setting is a post rail old west where times are changing, the lawless west that is idealised in every cowboy flick is coming to an end. Gunslingers and outlaws are a quickly waning number that are fighting to hold on to their way of life, enter the protagonist, recruited by the Government to aid their fight and clear out the riff raff by employing former riff raff, hopefully a case of the lesser of two evils.
The world is an open roaming environment set over three regions, each region is intended to represent the areas of the west with Mexico, the prairies and the mountains forming the virtual representation of the old west. The landscape we were shown fell into the second area, tumble weeds, coyote’s and rabbits. Authenticity is something that is usually severely lacking in most games, but creating a rugged and interactive wild west has eluded every developer to date, Red Dead Redemption will hopefully set this record straight. Dogs that form groups and attack, bears that you can hunt but don’t go down without a fight.
A lot of the content of the game is still placeholder but the basics really look to be sitting very well. There are some things that I think the game could do without, for example the slow down to shoot off multiple bullets in fast succession by pointing and clicking, it didn’t win me over in Call of Juarez and I doubt it’s going to be much fun here either. I much prefer continuity in gameplay and having fun through well designed environments and clever enemy A.I.
The horses were suitably impressive given the importance that they hold in a car-less world. According to what we were told every horse will be different from the last, or at least horses will have varying personalities and interesting quirks like loyalty and phobias. The animations were the thing that we were able to access, without spending time actually playing the game and trying out lots of mounts, most were fluid and natural and the changes between full on galloping and slow trot were completely smooth. Good to see considering that so much attention is going into something that traditionally feels like a rush job.
Although it isn’t releasing until early 2010 this is one of the more promising technological titles I have seen to date, the natural world provides Rockstar more chances for players to enjoy both the benefits of the ecosystem by filling up the world with unscripted events and also the direct interactions with the characters and animals in the way the player wants to experience. The scope seems to be very impressive with vista’s that cover large land masses that are not only beautiful but also open to explore. Definitely one to keep an eye out for, more details will be released in time and the addition of Multiplayer can’t hurt it’s potential to impress.