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Submitted by Gwynne Dixon on December 15 2009 - 18:02

We get our second look at Rockstar's gun-slinging open world Western, Red Dead Redemption...

Red Dead Redemption simply had to have a vast open world. It had to have this because, firstly, it's Rockstar's speciality, and secondly, because it's the best way to make gamers believe that anything is possible in a game. This, after all, is the fierce beating heart at the centre of Wild Western mythology; the sense that any man can succeed there, so long as they're tough as old boots and willing to take some huge risks in order to prosper. This and the sense of adventure; that feeling of personal insignificance as you stand atop a gaping canyon but, at the same time, unlimited possibilities in these endlessly sprawling, mineral rich lands.

But enough of our corny take on the Wild West. We'll let Rockstar do the talking from now on, as it depicts this Wild West setting peerlessly in Red Dead Redemption with its now entirely refined application of the RAGE engine. The draw distances are vast and daunting, made all the more stunning by fine brush strokes of heat hazing that add atmosphere to the parched textures across the game's landscapes. While these landscapes certainly aren't limited to desert canyons in the full game, this is what we've seen first-hand in our previews so far and we've been consistently impressed by what's on show.

The real sense of adventure in Redemption, though, will not be limited to these impressive visual displays and an expansive main campaign. Arguably, the real sense of adventure will come from the secondary missions. Those missions where you truly feel out-on-the-lam, stretching the game world to its most open-ended conclusions and exploration based rewards. This is what Rockstar wanted to show us in this second look at Redemption by demonstrating features like the game's wanted system, one of the treasure map secondary missions, a 'Most Wanted' side mission, and an insight into Redemption's reward system.

First up was one of the treasure map missions, which require far more skill than merely following a trail that leads to an X marked spot. Maps can be acquired throughout the game (presumably with cash or good/dastardly deeds) and the map we saw simply illustrated a sketch of a particular landscape which, in this case, was  a rocky outcrop that had formed into an arch through millennia of weathering and erosion. A simple arrow pointed to an area of the outcrop and, after much searching and viewing of the landscape from different angles, we finally came across this unmistakable arch. Our protagonist, John Marston, then proceeded to dig at the spot where he unearthed solid bars of gold (Rockstar assured us that rewards at the various treasure locations will vary).

The key to this mission was making the gamer work for their reward and not simply handing them a basic seek-and-capture mission that requires all the applicable initiative of a squashed lungfish. Instead, players are encouraged to be constantly mindful of their surroundings and truly explore in order to get the most out of the game. It's an ethic that's present throughout Redemption, as you make decisions in the missions and interact with characters in ways that can drastically sway how townships and the local law enforcement react to you. Marston's rewards for carrying out certain missions come in one of three forms (cash, fame, and honour). How he chooses to carry out these missions, however, is where these rewards vary.

While cold hard cash is always going to mean the same thing no matter what you do, fame and honour certainly won't. Honour forms a morality system in the game depending on the good or bad actions that you chose to take and fame is a measure of notoriety. Of course, this notoriety can be built up by either committing immoral actions or conducting yourself like a saint, although we'll bet good money that the quickest way to up your fame rank is to do dastardly deeds (just remember, kids: the quickest way isn't always the right way). This reward system is then tied into Rockstar's custom-tailored wanted system for Redemption.

In essence, the mechanics of the wanted system are taken from GTA. When you commit a crime, a wanted circle will appear on the map from which you have to escape before the local sheriff tears you a new one. Rockstar has latched on a more long-term consequence to your actions though, which is carried with you beyond the wanted circle and places a bounty on your head that varies depending on the extent of you crime. Giving the local sheriff a noogie could be a mere $50 bounty, while suggesting that the South won't rise again might result in a fully blown $1000 reward on your head. A higher bounty obviously means that you'll be getting attacked more often by opportunistic bounty hunters as well as being unwelcome at surrounding settlements, although there are ways of clearing the bounty to make your adventures more hassle free.

A quick trip to the nearest telegraph office leaves you with two options: paying the cash ransom yourself on the one hand, or alternatively doing a quick favour to be granted a pardon. These favours result in mini-missions that might require in a bit of gunfire and death, although they'll certainly be the preferred option of more frugal players. When you're not wanted by the rozzers though, you can always pick up 'Most Wanted' side missions from a nearby sheriff's office. The standard rules apply here: the mission details send you to a location where a villain will be waiting with their mob in tow. Your job is to detain the wrongdoer, dead or alive, and haul them back to the sheriff's office for a healthy pay-off and some tea and biccies. Bringing back the perpetrator alive obviously results in a higher bounty, so you're best off shooting them in the toe before lassoing them into submission.

Red Dead Redemption Trailer - Narrated Gameplay Clip
 

Want to know what Red Dead Redemption is all about? Rockstar's voice-over guy will teach you...


Side missions aren't merely limited to these structured treasure map and 'Most Wanted' escapades though. Redemption will also treat players to a wealth of procedurally generated events across the game world, such as a firing squad bearing down on a man that's just about to be executed or prisoners who have escaped from a transport vehicle. It's up to you, as John Marston, to decide whether you want to get involved in these events without necessarily knowing what the consequences will be. Does saving the man from a firing squad result in a higher honour rating if he's innocent, or do his actions deserve punishment from the business end of ten rifles?

Of course, you could just chose the misanthropic approach to life and turn the other cheek to these escaping prisoners and the vigilante justice of execution gangs. Said misanthropic gamers will be plentifully catered for with horses that can be tamed and broken in, as well as upgradeable camps that you can bed down in at night to gather more ammo and health while registering a handy save point. John Marston is a complex man who's only got space in his life for a trusty stead after all. Well, that and a bit of vulture sharpshooting whenever one of the winged beasts pops into view. Much like the pigeons in GTA IV, a number of Redemption's vultures can be shot from long range as a time burning side task.

Speaking of the vultures, Rockstar uses them as one of the many fine details that are synonymous with its open world games. When John Marston has ransacked a place, leaving nothing more than corpses in his wake, you'll often catch the odd vulture swooping in for dinner. Likewise, whenever John drops by the sheriff's office for fresh bounties, you'll occasionally catch the local lawman himself posting a fresh wanted poster. Walking amongst the inhabitants of a settlement also reveals a myriad of tiny details, such as locals preparing dinner from farmed livestock and the township's revolutionaries bellowing their rhetoric to the people before the local authorities cart them off for a night in the slammer. These touches are the bread and butter of what makes Rockstar's sandboxes the best in the business and long may it continue.

As far as the main campaign is concerned, Rockstar had the time to take us through a mission from the story to give us a better look at the dead-eye system. Essentially a bullet-time variant, dead-eye allows players to slow down time and paint targets that are then peppered with bullets by Marston when you pull back out of the dead-eye mode. Killing enemies in the regular combat mode builds up the dead-eye meter that revolves around the map on Redemption's HUD (like health/armour in GTA), and can then be spent at your will when the action gets hairy in fire-fights. There was also plenty of variation in the combat during our demoed mission, such as manning a cannon to blow apart the wagons of adversaries who were trying to retake an encampment that John Marston had just captured.

With the exception of one or two titles, open world sandbox games have been a consistent disappointment on this generation of consoles compared to the still seminal GTA IV. Come next April, we have no doubt that Red Dead Redemption will provide the sort of originality and immersion that we've been longing for, not only in sandbox games, but in the Wild West gaming genre as well.

 

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By: peterw

Added:Mon 08th Nov 2010 04:07, Post No: 171

If your games are lacking that zombie feel, "Red Dead Redemption" has you covered. The "Undead Nightmare" extension pack adds zombies to the game.The pack provides new tasks while turning the entire world into a zombie world. In slightly less than a month, a disk pack that allows "Undead Nightmare" to be played alone could be accessible for purchase.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Thu 28th Oct 2010 21:28, Post No: 170

lol have the people at the mental hospital taken the computer away from you, if not they need to, i havnt bought this games yet but by any means GOTY is out and only costs 30 bucks ??? oh you mean £$ well say £/$ then you stupid retard.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Thu 28th Oct 2010 19:44, Post No: 169

because you bought the game for 60 bucks and paid an additional 30 for the dlc, that is milking.

optional you bought it and killed bigfoot omg how cool. a new game already its called agent lets go.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Thu 28th Oct 2010 10:45, Post No: 168

so how are they milking our pockets dry, DLC is optional you know you dont have to buy it lol yet another retard with no inteligence.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Wed 27th Oct 2010 23:08, Post No: 167

wow who cares about a dlc that should have been incluced in the hard earned 60 dollars price tag it came with. oh wow zombie dogs and bigfoot omg omg,  six hours of game play and tons of fuun for 10 bucks. nice rip off rockstar. how bout getting La Noire out sometime with in the net ten years and some news on Agent,  rather than milking this game till the end of time. yea yea its a good game but this dlc should have been included in the original. Lets go already with the next games from you rockstar, stop milking the [#@!?] out of this dam game, oh wait you two months ago that big news is coming SOON, haha yea u guys always say that and never produce, milk milk milk it till it washed our pockets dry, well never getn my 10 bucks.  


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By: Anonymous

Added:Tue 26th Oct 2010 11:01, Post No: 166

good

 

good


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By: Anonymous

Added:Sat 23rd Oct 2010 17:15, Post No: 165

A good debate is always good Free, however i can't say that the scores for GTA 4 were a 98, no way the game was that close to perfection. If for eamble it had the use of the amusement park, a la roller coaster, more interaction with buildings, more weapons, choppers, better police AI then we could talk about a 98, however IMO wasn't close to a 98, more of a 88. Well hopefully after this zombie fest of dlc for the 26th, then we will get some real news on a NEW upcoming rockstar game. But probablby not until they milk the dlc for a month or two, until we gets news. well i wont be buying this dlc, i ave dead rising 2 for zombies and that is a very good game and fun as hell to play, everyone is biting of the zombie thing now, oh yea and they are trying to sell the dlc now with bigfoot, and they will make tons of money from it, but not from me.


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By: Anonymous

Added:Mon 18th Oct 2010 21:15, Post No: 164

man this looks awsome getting to fight some more zombies also it seems more fun to kill zombies and not go to a little girl every day or waiting for a helicopter to save you also it seems better than going through ravanholm wow i could go on and on about this


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By: Anonymous

Added:Mon 18th Oct 2010 13:42, Post No: 163

did you not see the mass amount of pre owned copies lining the shelves of every game shop accross the world. it made a [#@!?] load of money, but its the worst onw in the series.
 
dont get me started on metacritic. its great in theory, but if all it is doing is averaging massivly overblown scores to begin with (most likely because R* marketing lined critics pockets with cash) then its a waste of time. simple as that.
 
and you could argue that publishers dont buy critic scores. well lets just say nothing EVER deserves a 10/10 EVER!. yet gta 4 got that countless time.
 
Just some food for thought


By: freeradical

Added:Sun 17th Oct 2010 16:19, Post No: 162

There have been LA Noire details since then. Edge ran a preview earlier this year, the game looked pinned down for release before Christmas, and then Rockstar took it off the radar again (presumably because they're still not entirely happy with it). You're right on Agent though - there have been no details since E3 '09.

Whatever the case though, if you're going to argue about the quality of GTA IV (which, by the way, got a 98 on Metacritic as well as staggering sales) then there's no hope of us having a reasonable debate.


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