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Red Dead Redemption II

Noah Conley, Reporter

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   Critics and fans alike regard Red Dead Redemption as one of the best games of the seventh generation of consoles. It is remembered fondly for its openness and the detail of its world. As soon as you finished the tutorial section, you could flip the proverbial table it put in front of you, maybe throw a hand grenade at the game on the way out, ride to the other side of the state, and rob every stagecoach that came across your way. It was an excellent game that was full of vicarity; that feeling of being a part of the game’s world.

  Crank that feeling of living in the game’s world to 11 and you basically have the sequel, Red Dead Redemption II.

  Red Dead Redemption II is set in 1899 (making it a prequel to the original game), during the days of the Wild West; the age of outlaws and gunslingers is coming to an end, but the Dutch van der Linde Gang is still staying one step ahead of the law. You play as Arthur Morgan, a cowboy who was raised by the leader of the gang and has been a part of it for basically his entire life. And that’s all I’m really gonna say on the plot, because I’ve been playing for an entire weekend, and I’m only about 30% of the way through the story. But the story so far has been incredibly well done. There are over 20 characters in the Dutch van der Linde Gang, but they all feel like distinct people. If you asked me to name 10 of the characters from the game and sum up their personality in a sentence, I could probably do it.

  There’s a moment where you return to camp after rescuing a gang member in a mission, and everyone is partying, playing games, and singing, and you can join in on these activities. I think that this showcases how Red Dead Redemption II is the ultimate example of a living, breathing game world; you can do basically anything that you want whenever you want. The quality of the gunplay, graphics, and mini-games show the massive amount of detail that Rockstar Games has put into this game over the course of the 8 years spent developing it.

  The missions, both for the main story and side-quests, are well designed. Even if you’re just riding from the gang’s camp to the spot where you have to wait for a train to pass, you’re engaged in conversation with the gang members who are tagging along, learning more about them. And the story missions always turn into something unexpected by the end. A mission to bust someone out of a small town jail can turn into a massive shootout. These twists make sure that the missions never feel tedious or pointless.

  The graphics are also incredible. The last game where I felt joy in simply traversing the world, looking at whatever catches the eye was Breath of the Wild, but where that game found charm through its cel-shaded and cartoon-esque art style that makes the most of the Switch’s less powerful hardware, Red Dead abuses the specs of my Xbox One in order to create a world with an utmost attention in making it look like the setting could exist far out in the American frontier.

  The music and voice acting is really well done. The characters sound exactly like you think they would, and you can tell Rockstar spent a lot of time decided on the unique way each character should speak. The sound design is also well done, with all the sounds of guns firing, horses neighing, and stagecoaches being pulled sounding as though they came straight out of a classic Clint Eastwood western.

  All these factors make Red Dead Redemption II feel less like a game, per se, and more like a Wild West simulator, something designed to completely immerse you and to make you believe you are living in the version of the Wild West it has built.

  I give Red Dead Redemption II 10 howls out of 10; It’s an incredible testament to realistic open world design, making the world feel like a gritty and tough, yet quickly fading version of the American West, while still maintaining an interesting story, excellently written characters, and satisfying game play.

  

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Red Dead Redemption II