It’s High Time to Rediscover: Red Dead Redemption

Did you miss out on a classic of the past generation? Well never fear, Sprite Nation are here to give you the charge of buckshot that you need to get back on that trusty steed and ride away into the sunset. Red Dead Redemption: Wanted. According to Tom Middler, now’s a good time to get back in the saddle.

The right side or the wrong side of the law? Sometimes it’s more a question of morality for Marsden.

If you’re anything like me, you get lost in the middle of games sometimes and they inevitably end up being cast aside for newer, shinier things. It happens, especially with those long and sprawling sandbox games which are almost ten-a-penny now. So when I booted up my old copy of Red Dead Redemption I wasn’t surprised to find a particularly unloved save file from way back in 2011, but I pushed those swinging doors open and got on with it nonetheless. It’s safe to say I’m glad I did.

The tale of John Marsden is a surprisingly intricate affair, weaving its way through family, duty, money, the law, and naturally, a man’s checkered past, but the way the content is handled is so nuanced and deals with the natural twists and turns so aptly that it’s only the sheer size of the game which must have got me lost all those years ago. Add to the gripping story a properly varied cast of shifty wild-west ne’er-do-wells, and the moonshine is starting to ferment nicely.

It’s in the location itself, however, that the game truly comes to life. The vast expanse of the US-Mexico border opens up in all its glory as the game progresses, and as the colour palette shifts seamlessly from sunset oranges to desert browns, the game provides jaw-dropping vistas hand over fist. In a graphical demonstration of a developer at the peak of their powers, just as you think you’ve seen it all, in comes a tough, white winter, followed by the deep greens of the pine forests and the shimmer of ice cold rocky rivers making for a less, erm, sandy, sandbox.

The plot takes you both sides of the border before dragging you to its spectacular crescendo.

We know that Rockstar excel when breathing life into their cities, but their technical skills and their attention to detail are every bit as strongly utilised here. A land filled with spontaneous side quests, treasure maps, robberies and bear attacks, a trading system, a thriving eco-system, working cinemas, gambling rooms and saloons (I could go on), this place might be the ONLY world that makes Breath of the Wild’s Hyrule seem a touch lifeless in comparison. The fact that the developers also (basically) nailed the shooting mechanics, the horse riding physics and the character animations makes it no surprise that Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably 2018’s most hotly anticipated game.

But if we take off the rose-tinted spectacles for a second, the original game never seemed to get the recognition it deserved at the time, hence why I feel that many of you may have had a similar experience with Marsden as I did at first. The Western frontier, while popular, was often overlooked in favour of a slew of other HD titles in the heady days of 2010 gaming, but unlike many other titles of that age, this one wears its leathery skin like a badge of honour, and still plays beautifully today.

So before the sequel comes into town, why not lasso a copy of this at a bargain price before you’re asked to shell out $40 or more (I see you there, LA Noire!) for a 2018 re-release? Few games are more worthy of redemption (sorry-Ed.) than this one.

Keep up to date with October’s sequel here.

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