JJ-kun

[REVIEW] Red Dead Redemption II

This game has always been on my list though not a priority. However, a very enthusiastic friend of mine got me the game and I was finally able to play the game. It was quite exciting to see how this game is, given that it has received a lot of praise and GOTY awards and I’m personally eager to see the evolution of Rockstar Games from Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, the last Rockstar Games I’ve ever played. That said, Red Dead Redemption II did not disappoint in making me the cowboy I’ve always wanted to be… but with some caveats.

Red Dead Redemption II developed and published by Rockstar Games is an action-adventure open-world title that is set in a fictional wild west of 1899. It serves as a prequel to the 2010 game, Red Dead Redemption. The game received several nominations in several award shows, most notably The Game Awards, Gamers’ Choice Awards, Golden Stick Awards, and more, and if that did not entice you to play the game, or at least pique your interest, I don’t know what will.

The game follows the perspective of Arthur Morgan and his gang, a group of outlaws trying to settle down to live a happy life. They have been in many situations and had many ups and downs but what remained of the gang is that they stuck together… until they didn’t. The entire story of the game is literally the epitome of “can’t be worse than that… right?” Of everything that can turn right for the game’s protagonist, everything went… well, not as planned.

 

I believe that this game’s weakest point would be its storytelling. Not the story itself, I like and understand what they were trying to do, however, the execution and the pacing of the game is much unbearable. Every mission starts with you mindlessly pressing the X button to ride your horse to get from point A to point B, then to start shooting, only to go back from point B to point A. It was not until the latter half of the game that they started making these “walks” to either be cutscene or just immediately cut to point B. I would rather have a 20-minute cutscene than actively press X while listening to a dialogue, really.

In addition to this, I also feel like there was a lot of wasted opportunity for world-building. The game frequently introduces a character, or group of characters, only to use them once and then throw them off, much like what they did to Gundam Iron-blooded Orphans. There were also times when a chapter would feel like it was just a filler, to make the game stretched out.


Furthermore, Rockstar Games did a very good job of building up the story in each chapter, however, that’s all there is to it; a build-up. Every build-up of an arc ends up exploding at you at the very last moment, wanting to end the arc to prepare for the upcoming chapter. A lot of it was not explained well and mostly ended up in the background. 


As a friend of mine who got me the game said, “we don’t always get what we want” That says a lot about this game. It’s unpredictable, it’s chaotic, it’s a mess. It’s realistic in a way that no plan ever goes according to plan and that’s beautiful… but that does not give it an excuse to the storywriting for lazily ending an arc, let alone just letting Arthur speak of what transpired through his journal before and after what should have been in the story.


Despite all that though, the main character’s character development is just top notch and I think everyone should experience it blindly.

Oh, where do I even start with this… Without a hint of doubt, this game is one of the most aesthetically pleasing games I’ve ever played. The great use of lights, the fog, the mist, the environment, weather, day and night, and all of that makes this game remarkable graphically speaking. I was quite in awe when I played this game. In fact, the game looks so good that there are a lot of instagrammable moments and locations! As a photographer myself, I tend to be critical of framing too and this game did that amazingly. I spent a lot of my hours in photo mode just because of how this game looks. It was just a fantastic and gorgeous experience… even more so playing in HDR which I did most of the part.

 

If there are any flaws that I see, I just give it a pass as most of the flaws are “limitations at the time the game was made” and are mostly only when you extremely zoom in is when you’ll notice it since you won’t for the most part. Remember, the game was released in 2018 and it still holds up, even more so than games released today in 2023.

 

I usually write up a lot in this section of my reviews and be critical about how the game I play looks, but this game… just left me speechless. I cannot emphasize it enough, and honestly, I don’t think words are enough to describe the beauty of this game.

The sound design for this game is phenomenal. You can hear every sound effect that your character has with them, the immediate change when of sound effect when your horse steps on a different floor, and the environmental sounds are just top-notch. It’s like, you’re actually there and you’re the one bringing all the tools.  It is quite immersive, I’ll tell you that.

 

In terms of the musical score though, it’s about so-so. Hear me out now. The musical score is amazing, and I’m honestly even listening to it as I write this review but I would just like to point out that the implementation of the musical score is just bad. I was so immersed in the gameplay that I didn’t even notice that there was music in the background. It was not until my friend pointed it out to me… or more exactly asked me about the musical score that I noticed it. The music only became evident to me around more than the game in, closer to the finish, and by that, I feel like I ended the game without much appreciation for the music, which brings me back again to listening to it now that I’ve finished it.

 

Again, the musical score is great, though mostly used for missions and nothing else, but the implementation is just poor.

The game is very easy to play and quite intuitive as well though takes a while to get used to. It took me about an hour or two before I got the hang of the game’s controls but once you get the wind of it, it becomes second nature like you just transformed into a cowboy your entire life. There’s also a huge map for you to explore with varying biomes, from snowy mountains, to grasslands, to forests, to swamps, to drylands, and many more. It is a superbly immersive map. There’s also the varying wildlife of course. That said, the game’s control and atmosphere made me feel back to the old days of video gaming. 

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just the controls but the intricate system placed in the game is quite fascinating as well. There’s the honor system which serves as your social acceptability which affects how the environment and your character interact with each other, there’s your sickness status which affects your health, the in-game-time-based shops which are closed during nighttime which only saloons left up and when you get in on a shop at the very last minute, you’d still be accommodated though the NPC will ask you to leave multiple times while accommodating you haha. There’s also the weight system which affects your health and stamina status whether you’re in perfect shape, underweight, or overweight so you have to keep your food intake in check, and finally the random events that happen in the game; whether you’re to see someone wrongly kidnapped, to getting pickpocketed, to getting helping someone getting chased by wolves.

There’s just a lot in this game to unpack!

The game has so much to offer. From the gazillion sub-missions, to the biome, to the easter eggs, and hidden details and interactions, it’s more than you can ask for. My only gripe in the game is that if you play this game as a game, there would be so much that you would miss— and that’s what happened to me as well. It’s a game that you cannot just play one time, but of multiple times and even then you would be bound to find something new. There are so many things in the game that the player base still finds new things to discover even to this day. In my 70 hours of gameplay, I still haven’t discovered half of what can be discovered and that is a huge statement.

The price of the game is already TOO CHEAP for what it is offering. I think everyone should get this game.

As I said, this is a very beautiful, flourished, and complex game. A single playthrough would not be enough for anyone to fully realize and appreciate this game with its intricate, immersive, and expansive world. As a game, it’s amazing with only its storytelling being its major flaw, but hey I’m already over that part now. I, for one, already played it as a game and it just made me thirst for more— so this time, I’ll be playing it as a piece of art, not as a game.

     However, a note must be taken when playing this on PC. The game is not as optimized as you would hope, to just download and play the game. There would be a need for fixes before you can actually play the game properly. It took me 3 hours to get the game fully running for that matter. Fortunately, the community is well enough to help fellow players such as me to make the game run.

THE GOOD

THE BAD

COWBOY YEEEHAAWW

Amazing Graphics

Intricate World

Masterful Gameplay

Storytelling is a mess

Story is overstretched and draggy

SCORE

BREAKDOWN

8.1

   

Story

5

Graphical Delivery

9.8

Music

7.5

Gameplay

8.8

Content Value

9.3

Excellent

   

RED DEAD ONLINE and EPILOGUE NOT RATED REVIEWED ON PC

Ad Space Available

THE GOOD

THE BAD

SCORE

N/A

Not Available

BREAKDOWN

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