Red Dead Redemption 2

How would you even begin to follow up the madness that is Grand Theft Auto V?

Here’s an idea. Port it to the Wild West, update the visuals and gameplay for 2018, and sit back and watch it print cash.

And based on the results so far, it looks like Rockstar Games’ winning formula still works. Because Red Dead Redemption 2 is probably one of, if not the best game to come out in recent times.

Admittedly, escaping GTA V’s shadow won’t be an easy task. But seeing as RDR 2 is without a doubt the superior game in certain aspects, I think it’ll be just fine.

Calling Red Dead Redemption 2 a big game would be a huge understatement. Calling it well-made is humble at best.

Immersive and Expansive Open World

The beginning, a tutorial dressed as gameplay, passes by quickly and introduces you to the game’s extensive world. From there, it’s as chaotic and random as can be. How you play, what you do, and what comes your way has an organic feel to it. The game seems to be alive and the world is believable.

This is the third time around for the series and it is a prequel to Red Dead Redemption 2. The game does have an online mode coming out but we won’t be discussing that in this review as there’s not even a set release date yet.

One of the great things about RDR 2 is that, even as a prequel, it is pretty much open to anyone. If you’ve already played the previous game, you’ll probably appreciate it a bit more. If not, don’t worry about it, you’re not going to be lost at all.

After leaving the initial camp, a lot of the game is up to the player. This kind of freedom is awesome as it makes the experience much more immersive and really takes advantage of the expansive open-world of RDR 2.

Gameplay with Unlimited Freedom

There’s just so much to do in this game, it’s actually insane. Side quests, gambling, and of course, the main story.

Or if you’re in the mood for something a little crazier, you can go around terrorizing the KKK, get robbed by an incestuous brother and sister, kill someone in a horse riding accident, rob a train, get thrown out of the camp, and then top it all off by getting piss drunk.

The story is serious, but the game allows you to do your own thing. And it’s amazing.

If there’s one thing that will nag you throughout the game, it’s the controls.

It’s standard stuff for Rockstar, and the immersive elements are cool…but, after you’ve hitched your horse for the 800th time, it just becomes plain tedious. It doesn’t take away much, if anything from the game. But awkward at times is probably the best way to describe it. Remember the Call of Duty “Press X to Pay Respects” meme? It’s kind of like a watered down version of that, though not nearly as cringeworthy.

In RDR 2, there’s the odd moment here and there where you’re just like, what? It doesn’t really hold the game back but it’s worth noting.

A Graphical Wonderland

Speaking of which, the number of things you can interact with and the seamless way they’re integrated into the game’s world speak to how impressive the graphics are.

The graphics aren’t exactly photorealistic but at the same time, there aren’t many dead-eye automaton uncanny valley moments. Everything just flows.

When things get heated, the action is super intense. Then, there’s a lull where everything just kind of stops. Because of this, the game can feel a slow at times. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it gives the environment around you a sense of unpredictable danger.

For example, one night while riding back to camp it was too dark to continue safely so I had Arthur set up camp.

Then out of nowhere, I got held up by a couple of inbreds that warned me not to camp in that area. They didn’t rob me or anything – just came out of the shadows, threatened to kill me, then disappeared off into the night.

That’s cool as hell. And the best part is, it’s just a normal part of the world that can happen at literally any given time during the game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is an amazing ride from beginning to end. It really lets you “role play” to your heart’s content in its violent, sadistic world that just sucks you right in. With so many different things to do and so many places to explore, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still playing this game halfway through 2019.

The more you play it, the more you realize that comparisons to GTA V, while justified, are superficial at best. The more time you spend in this rich and immersive open world, the more obvious it becomes: Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the best games of this generation.