Growing up in a Nigerian household, it was hard to convince my parents to buy me video games that were intended for a mature audience, so when Red Dead Redemption came out in 2010, I didn’t even bother asking them because I knew what the answer would be. So, I spent the following years listening to friends and people across the internet explain to me what an amazing game it was. Fast forward to 2018, and I discover that the release of RDR 2 was on the horizon, so I decided it was time to finally pick up the first game and give it a go (since I didn’t need help buying it from my parents anymore). Safe to say, I was missing out.
I’m not going to get into the plot of the game because it’s been eight years and everyone knows how the story goes by now (I already knew the ending going in), but I just want to touch on how this gaming experience still felt so creative, even in this current gaming generation. It was definitely a game made by Rockstar with mechanics very similar to GTA – the ‘Wanted’ system resembles how many stars you had – and even the way the camera panned in and out from when a cutscene ended, to the start of a new mission. This all felt very familiar (which wasn’t a bad thing at all). What was fresh and interesting for me was the environment and atmosphere that the game was set in. This title being a western definitely had a tremendous amount to do with it being as successful as it was.
Sure, playing RDR on my Xbox 360 wasn’t the most ideal. The controls were a bit wonky and the graphics left a lot to be desired, but it was easy to forget all of that because the gameplay was fully immersive. There was so much to do when you weren’t focused on the main storyline albeit I didn’t do too much of it.
My only gripe with this game -and it’s honestly personal opinion more than ANYTHING – is that traversal via-horseback is not entertaining or exciting to me. It just doesn’t work for me. I found myself using the campfire/fast-travel mechanic more than actually riding from destination to destination. And I know that is going to carry over to the sequel, so it’s something I’ll have to adjust to again.
With it being close to a decade since this title dropped, Rockstar has had an immense amount of time to get the sequel right, and I’m looking forward to playing it in close to a months time (at the time of this writing). I hope that they’re able to keep the same energy the first game had: the feeling of being a badass with nothing but a horse, some guns, and his Dead Eye targeting ability. Obviously, with the protagonist being different this time around (even though it’s a prequel that’s a sequel), they’ve got a task on their hands with making the new main character as likable as John Marston was, but it’s not impossible at all.
I honestly feel a bit lucky that I waited this long to play Red Dead Redemption for the first time. I was fully able to understand the story with me being a bit older. The experience was different than any other game I’ve played (minus the similar things shared between GTA titles). It was truly a revolutionary title, and I can now see why people claimed it was one of the best titles of that gaming generation. Thanks, mom, and dad, for not allowing me to play violent games as a kid. I discovered a gem as an adult.