From its snowy mountain peaks to its sandy ocean shores, you will not find a more beautiful game than Red Dead Redemption 2. Rockstar has developed a sandbox that is compelling, realistic, and visceral, in stunning 60fps. Living up to the magnificent legacy its predecessor left behind was a laborious task for RDR2. Upon its release, gamers flailed it for so many reasons.
There are some valid issues, but I favor Red Dead Redemption 2 to its predecessor — and to most other games. As far as I am concerned, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a triumph that should be hoisted upon your living room mantle for every holiday party henceforth.
The story of Red Dead Redemption 2 takes place a while before the events of the first game. I refuse to spoil any plot specifics in this review, but I will talk about it in broad terms. As far as Triple-A video games are concerned, this story might just be the best. You can miss quite a bit of this game if you mainline it, so you could potentially play through a set of greatly different scenarios from mine. However, there are enough wonderful scripted events to make any player come out of the other side feeling whole. A number of optional quests make the prospect of replaying Red Dead Redemption 2 far more attractive than most games.
Meet Arthur Morgan
The protagonist of Red Dead Redemption 2 is a husky slab of prime rib by the name of Arthur Morgan. His moral compass is always pointing in whichever direction your sick little fingers find their curiosities. You can be a bad Arthur, or you can be a good Arthur.
You can track this progress at the bottom of the screen, whether you choose to help a lovable NPC or rob a lovable NPC. The choice is yours and the scales are broad. There are about as many decisions you can make as Arthur Morgan in this tall Western tale as there are actual choices in real life. You can choose to take care of your horse or neglect your horse, in the same way that you can choose to go into your job or stay home and play more of this game!
The most exciting elements of the game are in the visuals. It’s hard to even begin talking about the atmosphere of RDR2. You will see things in this game that you have never seen before in any game, ever. The way that light bursts through a shattered cabin window in the dead middle of a winter morning, in real time, will chill you to the bone.
Every frame of this video game belongs in an art museum. Rockstar poured care into the design of every town, every prairie, and every single mountain range. It’s easy to find yourself standing, mesmerized, at the scenery, despite your “call to action” pulling you further into a story that will never cease to impress you visually. This is the closest I have been to living a Wild West life vicariously through a piece of media.
The mechanics of Red Dead Redemption 2 are quite possibly the game’s only true downfall. Since there are only a set number of buttons allotted to each controller on a given console, certain buttons are mapped to more than one action. However, the idea to make a button both “talk” and “shoot” is laughably unfortunate come talking time in Valentine, the small livestock town.
There are also too many games within this game. We don’t need Poker and Dominoes. We don’t need cigarette cards and collectable photographs. By the time I felt I had finally gathered all of the tasks I could potentially seek out, I completely lost all interest. They were overwhelming and uninteresting. I don’t want to shave in a game. I don’t want to bathe in a game. Even with these boring elements, I still treasured this experience because, at the end of the day, they are optional.
If you have the means and the time, you should go out and immediately pick up Red Dead Redemption 2. The investment is high, but if you meet this game on its own terms, it is highly rewarding. The story is brilliant. The pacing is relaxing. The gun-fights are wild. Arthur Morgan will live forever as one of video gaming’s great characters, and for good reason.