Jeremy Jastrzab
29 May, 2009

Red Dead Redemption Preview

360 Preview | GTA: Wild West? YEEE HAAWW!!!
Red Dead Revolver started off life under the development of the now defunct Angel Studios and was to be published by Capcom. The project went sour and Angel Studios went on to become Rockstar San Diego, with the game subsequently published by Rockstar. There aren’t many games set in the potentially creative cesspool that is the Wild West, so this arcade take on Spaghetti Westerns was certainly welcome. Come 2009, and Rockstar are revisiting the franchise in the form of Red Dead Redemption. We recently had a chance to get our first look at the game.

Red Dead Revolver was almost a slap-stick take on the Western, mixed into a game. Split into almost two dozen levels, the game followed a basic revenge story, the kind you’d be used to seeing in a typical Spaghetti Western. It’s just that all stereotypes were crammed into the one game. Red Dead Redemption takes its inspiration much more from history and the more serious Western films.

That's a mighty fine horse you have there... We want it!

That's a mighty fine horse you have there... We want it!
Red Dead Redemption takes place at the start of the Nineteenth Century, where the influences of telephone technology are taking hold, trains are the main form of distance travel and the government is asserting itself on the lawless land. You play as John Marston, who considers himself a reformed outlaw. Having ‘gone straight’ and started a family, his past creeps up behind him and bites him on the backside. Big time. Marston is recruited by the local marshals to ‘help’ take on the remaining outlaws and remnants of the Wild West.

Not much was revealed about the story, but we do know that you’ll be encountering all sorts of outlaws, some ‘upper class folk’ and Mexicans. Given the morally ambiguous nature of the times, the game isn’t going to push a good or evil motif. Instead, it’s giving the players choice over whether they want to join the bandits in robbing the train, or helping the engineers in fighting them off.

Where as Red Dead Revolver was an arcade-style game with different levels and high-scores, Red Dead Redemption tries the whole open-world thing. Rockstar are really mooting the openness of the game, and from what we saw, it’s no bluff. Built off the Rage and Euphoria engines just like Grand Theft Auto IV, Redemption seems to benefit from the lack of built environment for a much wider and much more sprawling natural surrounding. Despite the fact the game build we saw was a few months old, the first time you look into the distance and realise just how big an area you have to explore will drop your jaw.

Oi, the sunset is the other way!

Oi, the sunset is the other way!
Being an open-ended game, we could wax lyrical about all the potential things that you can do, though a lot of them haven’t been finalised. Suffice to say, this does seem like Grand Theft Auto: Wild West, so you can imagine some of the things that you’ll be able to do. There will be random quests and people that you’ll run into across the plains, some helpful, some useless and some setting a trap. Horses will be the main form of transport and you’ll be able to capture wild horses, buy new ones or simply horse-jack them. Of course, no open-ended game would be complete without shenanigans such as mini-games and getting your character drunk. Heck, playing Cowboy should be fun on its own.

The gameplay mechanics are similar to those of GTAIV, though obviously concessions have been made to change a car to a horse. The shooting mechanics look like a mix of GTAIV and Red Dead Revolver. So you can do virtually everything you could do as Niko or Johnny, mainly concerning taking cover and how you move, while you also have the ‘Dead Eye’ at your disposal. The Dead Eye would slow down time and you’d have a few moments to tag enemies. Exit and your character would fire precision shots to those tags. It’s a nifty mechanic, but just how it will work in the final game is unknown.

We didn’t see much of the game itself, but the things you’d expect from a Western are here. There was a mission where a prisoner/hostage handover went wrong, a hectic shoot-out with improvised cover, a train heist and an on-the-rails sequence where you had to defend a carriage. Couple this with the contextually implemented open-world gameplay elements and this could be the definitive Wild West game.

The time for a good 'ol fashioned stand off.

The time for a good 'ol fashioned stand off.
The size of the natural environment was visually stunning and breathtaking, but the attention to detail was quite impressive as well. A lot of natural wildlife was present in the build, with vultures coming to feast on the enemies we just killed, armadillos and snakes scurrying around, packs of wild horses and coyotes roaming freely. The world will have three distinct regions, the frontier, your typical Western environment, a more mountainous woodland area and as far south as Mexico. The fact that we’ll be able to hunt bears and cougars in the mountain areas, pretty much has us sold.

As impressive as this initial showing of Red Dead Redemption was, there are a lot of questions unanswered. Sure, things like story and features will trickle out over time, but we’re more interested at this stage how the game will play under pressure, particularly as the controls in GTA always struggled when too much was happening. Another concern is the size of the world. Big open spaces are great, though numerous games have got it wrong by making the game too big and leaving the player spending too much time getting from point A to point B. Still, these will be answered in time, but from what we’ve seen for now, Red Dead Redemption is on the right track.
There are still a lot of unknowns about Red Dead Redemption, but from what we do know things are shaping up really nicely.

Related Red Dead Redemption Content

XBLA: Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare Review
09 Nov, 2010 Boogey boogey boogey!
Red Dead Redemption: Liars and Cheats trailer
16 Sep, 2010 Did you just say...explosive rifle?
1 Comment
4 years ago
I really hope they can pull this game off and not stray to far from the original, which was one of my favourite games last gen.
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Australian Release Date:
  21/05/2010 (Confirmed)
  Take 2 Interactive
Year Made:

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