After a few days in the company of Arthur Morgan, he is one of the most deep conflicted honest/savage characters that I have ever had the fortune to meet. Red Dead Redemption II is more than ‘just’ another Rockstar classic, it is an epic tale that drags you in and won’t let go. So far, I have seen Arthur stand up for working girls, hunt deer to feed the crew, throw a man off a cliff, rob a train, play poker, shave in a swanky hotel, chase various nefarious types, calm the horses, traipse through snow, get muddied up in a fight, etc etc etc. And I have hardly scratched the surface, having completed 9.8% of the main game. Oh and did I mention the horse balls? Everyone has mentioned the horse balls. They shrink in cold weather and you must get back to the sunshine to let them swing. Yes, this is a thing now.
The best thing about Red Dead Redemption II is that you always feel that you are in control of your own destiny. You are not being pushed into the next mission, you are a mere drip in the game’s ocean and I found myself sometimes just sitting down in town and watching the world go by. And my past activities changed how this played out – when I arrived in the town it was all “Good morning” this and “Howdy partner” that, but after getting in various scrapes, my next visit to the saloon saw people exclaiming and moving out of the way to not get mixed up with me, the hookers run away, the barman warns me for my actions and the music was gone. Then, having got rid of any WANTED trouble, I returned and was on nodding terms with the patrons, got offered to join a card game and listened with delight to the amazing piano player. Sublime.
The horses feel less like pixels and more like real animals, if there is a shoot out, Mr Buckingham-Nicks (yes you can name them and do them up to give you more empathy) will freak out, stand up on two legs and only calm down when I go over to talk to him. It is very relaxing stroking the animals and you can see the dust and the dirt fly off of them, just as it would in reality.
The graphics are absolutely stunning, watching the sun through the trees, the real way the town moves and lives, the animals casually drinking from the streams before they hear you approach and scoot off, the ladies, the cowboys. This is probably the best looking Xbox One game ever and I am ‘just’ playing it on the original console not the powerful X, which no doubt offers even more.
Well, we have almost hit 500 words without any negatives, so let’s look at them. It won’t take long. I find the weapon wheels slightly tricky, often you are trying to get to your gun within seconds of someone attacking you and you have to spin through the options, risking instant death. Also, instead of carrying all your weapons on your person, they are stored on your horse, so you must constantly go back to it when you need a different item. I know this is more realistic but I could do with my whole inventory available at all times. Is that greedy, or timesaving? Aside from these two minor gripes, I don’t have any other problems with Red Dead Redemption II, aside from there not being enough hours in the day to enjoy it all.
I’ve been coming back from work, booting it up, playing, sleeping, playing, watching Youtube videos of other people playing and then playing again. With Forza Horizon 4 and Red Dead Redemption II both launching in October, this really is a great time to be a gamer and this is truly an excellent adventure.