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Old 11-07-2018, 07:41 PM   #1
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The Evil Avatar Red Dead Redemption II Review

Title: Red Dead Redemption II
Platform: PS4,Xbox One
Platform Reviewed: PS4
Developer: Rockstar Games
Publisher: Rockstar Games
MSRP: $59.99
Writer: Aaron Birch

Red Dead Redemption II Review

A pair of six-shooters beats a pair of sixes

Even in a market that's saturated with open world games, with the likes of Ubisoft turning all of its franchises into sandboxes, and many other publishers following suit, Rockstar Games is known for its ability to create the best open worlds around (well, maybe aside from the Witcher 3). Even though it's now over five years old, GTAV still commands constant sales and has one of the most impressive open worlds ever conceived, and with Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar has once again produced another work of art in open gaming.



Set several years before the first Red Dead Redemption, RDRII is a prequel for the events that unfolded in the previous game, and it introduces us to many of the antagonists of the first game, only here they're on the side of the protagonist – new guy, Arthur Morgan.

Part of the infamous Van der Linde outlaw gang, whose members John Marston was forced to hunt down in the first game, Arthur and his crew are on the run from federal authorities after a heist goes wrong in the town of Blackwater. Gang leader, Dutch Van der Linde takes his company to the safety of the snowy mountains, with a goal of heading to the relatively lawless west, now that the east has fallen under the heel of law and order – not a good place for one of the last outlaw bands around.



So starts one of Rockstar's most ambitious stories yet, and one that spans a huge world of wild west action, and an overarching story of a dying lifestyle, and survival. This isn't a typical, tongue-in-cheek Rockstar tale, though, but is instead a solemn and often grim depiction of the end of the old west.

The game follows the usual Rockstar style – a huge map peppered with missions, side quests, and other optional activities, and it's all held together with an excellent story, great voice acting, and a level of attention to detail that's second to none, and when I say attention to detail, I mean it.



The world of RDRII is a beautifully realised recreation of pre-1900s America, and a land on the verge of a huge change. Civilisation is finally seeping into the wilderness, laws are being made, and those who, for a long time, had no men to answer to for their actions, now find themselves on the wrong side of the battle.

Much of the story here revolves around Dutch Van der Linde's futile, and overly-romantic view of his former lifestyle and freedom, and his battle against the inevitable, as he drags his band of outlaws on a harrowing journey to his idea of the perfect life. Arthur Morgan, one of his most trusted lieutenants is along for the ride, and the story is as much his, as we see how the events unfold into those of the first game.



It's very interesting to see the antagonists of RDR be fleshed out, being real people with their own identities and back stories, and not just mission bosses to be overcome. Seeing the lives of John Marston's targets from RDR makes for solid storytelling as these are characters we know of, but don't exactly know. John Marston himself, albeit a young incarnation of him, is also in the gang, with his very young son, Jack, and his wife – perfectly linking the two games.

A strong story is far from RDRII's only good point, though, as this is a game simply oozing class and polish. We always expect a well fleshed out world to run around in from Rockstar, and this is no exception. The game spans five whole fictional states, including areas you'll remember from the first game. These states are packed with points of interest and activities to indulge in, with small towns, larger settlements, and a rolling sea of American wilderness, spanning arid deserts, scrub lands, forest, snowy mountains, swamps, and more.



With these areas you'll obviously venture through the main story, undergoing missions from major NPCs, and you'll also find all sorts of strangers dotted around with side missions, and other random events, such as prison transports, random fire fights, and opportunities to earn some extra coin.

Side activities are spread all over too, such as fishing, poker, five finger fillet, and, of course, hunting. In fact, the hunting system here is one of the best I've seen. It's still simple enough to be fun, but deep enough to require careful planning and execution, as you have to analyse animals to find the best qualities, mask your scent, sneak stealthily around, and go for the tidiest killing shot, lest you render the carcass or pelt less valuable due to to much damage.



What's more, many of these diversions are more than simple time killers. As your gang is on the run, you have to help build up and support your camp. This means bringing in food, ammo, and money. Hunting is an obvious way to get food, but to earn money, you can do many things, from story missions that involve ill-gotten gains, to random robberies and simply selling items you find in the world. You can then donate to the camp, and also spend the gang's money to upgrade the camp, opening up new benefits and better restock items.

The actual missions are pure Rockstar flair, and although early missions are relatively simple, you'll soon find yourself taking part in daring heists, epic shoot outs, and horseback fire fights. It is a wild west game, after all, and Rockstar has embraced the time period, and popular culture revolving around the subject matter.



Controlling all of this is, thankfully, not a problem, and the combat is handled well, with many options to tailor the game to your preference. Shooting is decent, with options for auto-locking or free aim, and degrees of control in between, and you can play the game in third or first person at all times. Shootouts are often very much cover-based affairs, and Dead eye returns, allowing you to slow down time and 'paint' enemies to deliver the most lethal shots.

There are one on one duels too, of course, and these are well implemented and fluid, and overall control of Arthur is good, if a little hampered by the complex animation system that, whilst it makes Arthur's movements very realistic, can make controlling him feel a little sluggish and awkward from time to time, especially when you want to pick up specific items.



Still, mechanically, there's not a great deal to find fault with here, and the game plays as well as it looks, and you know what? It looks great. It's no surprise the world is so good looking, given the developer's pedigree, but RDRII really does push things to a whole new level, with superb lighting, lush environments, and some truly impressive effects, such as snow trails, muddy roads, humid swamps, and so much more. It’s a joy to watch as well as play.

Rockstar has avoiding using big name actors this time around, but the end results aren't really affected, as the voice acting and direction is excellent, and Rockstar's famous talent in cut scene direction and scripting shines through. Chiefly, again we have a wild west-style game that is down to earth and not bogged down by cheesy, spaghetti western tropes. Instead it's a very authentic world that feels truly accurate, with characters that feel developed and believable.



The world is so full of little touches and game systems, it's hard to really do it justice in mere words. Every one who plays the game will encounter different situations that form highlights they remember, and simply walking through a small town and observing the NPCs milling around, even arguing and engaging in their own duels or fights, is just as much fun as going through the story.

Put simply, Read Dead Redemption II is an instant classic and one of the best games Rockstar has even made. It's a glorious open world sandbox to play around in that's densely packed with content, and high production values.



Perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay the game is the fact it's now made my game of the year choice difficult. Previously, God of War was the hands down winner, and only until now do I find myself with a dilemma. Brilliant, in every sense.

Score:5 out of 5



The Good
  • Huge, detailed, and packed world
  • Beautiful visuals and imprecible production
  • Varied and gripping gamelay from start to finish
The Bad
  • Movement controls are a little sluggish, as with recent GTAs
The Ugly
  • Nope, only good looking outlaws here
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Old 11-07-2018, 09:21 PM   #2
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It's such a shame on the landscape that these titles are not available on PC. I know the work that was put into GTAV on PC was substantial, and costly, but goddamn was that worth it? Seems so.
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Old 11-08-2018, 04:24 AM   #3
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It's such a shame on the landscape that these titles are not available on PC. I know the work that was put into GTAV on PC was substantial, and costly, but goddamn was that worth it? Seems so.
This game looks so nice for a console game, I can only imagine the level of detailed that's increased if they do a PC version.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:24 AM   #4
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My pipedream hope for this game is that they'll add a remake of RDR into it as DLC, sort of like how the entirety of Pokemon Red/Blue was playable in Gold/Silver as post-Elite Four content.

I mean, most of the stuff - including the dialogue and in-game assets - would already be done. Sure, they'd probably have to rerecord a few characters (such as Javier Escuella)...but pretty much everything else is already there, y'know?

I doubt it'll ever happen, but it'd be pretty awesome. Part of me wants to go back to RDR after I finish RDR2...but I have a feeling the adjustment to the older game would be tough.
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Old 11-08-2018, 07:54 AM   #5
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My pipedream hope for this game is that they'll add a remake of RDR into it as DLC, sort of like how the entirety of Pokemon Red/Blue was playable in Gold/Silver as post-Elite Four content.

I mean, most of the stuff - including the dialogue and in-game assets - would already be done. Sure, they'd probably have to rerecord a few characters (such as Javier Escuella)...but pretty much everything else is already there, y'know?

I doubt it'll ever happen, but it'd be pretty awesome. Part of me wants to go back to RDR after I finish RDR2...but I have a feeling the adjustment to the older game would be tough.
Before this game came out I played a bit of the Undead nightmare version, it was playable but you could see the poor draw distance with the upgraded resolution.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:48 AM   #6
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Great review, I knew it would be a 5 out of 5 while reading.

PC version being worked on as we speak
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:51 AM   #7
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Before this game came out I played a bit of the Undead nightmare version, it was playable but you could see the poor draw distance with the upgraded resolution.
I replayed the original about a year or so ago and it was absolutely playable. My concern would be going back to the older control scheme and overall style of the game - now 8 years old - after spending a ton of time with the new one.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:17 AM   #8
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You left your Trophy banners white? Ewwwwww.

Almost everyone online including me complains about the awkward controls and you barely mention it.
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Old 11-08-2018, 12:43 PM   #9
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You left your Trophy banners white? Ewwwwww.

Almost everyone online including me complains about the awkward controls and you barely mention it.
People complain about the controls, but the only thing I really hated was how they made the touchpad adjust the camera settings, as opposed to opening the map/menu like in practically every other game on the market.

I got used to it after a few hours, but going into it after playing the likes of Far Cry 5, God of War and Spider-Man (all of which have the touchpad function as a giant start button) resulted in lots of mildly irritated swearing because I accidentally fucked with the camera for the umpteenth time.
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Old 11-08-2018, 02:24 PM   #10
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People complain about the controls
Because they suck. Pretty simple.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:16 PM   #11
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This game looks so nice for a console game, I can only imagine the level of detailed that's increased if they do a PC version.
If you are playing it on an Xbox One X, you are pretty much getting the High (with some Medium elements) PC experience. For the PS4 Pro, you are definitely getting more of the the Medium (with some High elements) due to the decreased native resolution and blurring from TAA.

For the PS4 and Xbox One, you are definitely getting the Medium experience, and in some ways, you may wish it was the Low experience because of the poor frame rate and pacing.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:18 PM   #12
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My pipedream hope for this game is that they'll add a remake of RDR into it as DLC, sort of like how the entirety of Pokemon Red/Blue was playable in Gold/Silver as post-Elite Four content.
It would not be impossible. They already have most of the original Red Dead Redemption mapped out, so it would just be populating it to look like the original (currently, the locations of the original game are still incomplete as they are a decade younger than they were in RDR).
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:27 PM   #13
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Almost everyone online including me complains about the awkward controls and you barely mention it.
To be honest, you get used to them pretty quickly, and almost miss them when you switch to another game. Like, I booted up Assassin's Creed: Odyssey last night to to do the weekly sea battle, and it felt strangely cold as could hold a single button to run, parkour and climb, my horse would adjust its speed and follow the road on its own, and fast travel is always available.

That is not to say that I would like any other game to try to mimic Red Dead Redemption 2, just that you get so sucked into playing the game, that you hardly mind the odd control scheme because it works for the world that they have created and you are inhabiting.
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Old 11-08-2018, 09:09 PM   #14
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You left your Trophy banners white? Ewwwwww.

Almost everyone online including me complains about the awkward controls and you barely mention it.
I have played 20 hours of this game, and haven't gone back for a week (or two?). And it's because of the controls. They're very annoying to me. I want to get into the game but when I look at my available options of what to play, I keep choosing other games because of the sluggish controls, even buying stuff gets annoying because you have to flip through a catalog or actually walk along the shelves to find what you want. I admire the realism they're going for, but not at the expense of playability.

I'll try to get back into it, but that aspect of this otherwise amazing game is quite disappointing.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:41 PM   #15
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You left your Trophy banners white? Ewwwwww.

Almost everyone online including me complains about the awkward controls and you barely mention it.
It wouldn't be a Rockstar game without the controls being clunky. Never fails with these guys. Yet they still manage to sell despite their controls being shittastic going back to GTA3.
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Old 11-09-2018, 06:35 AM   #16
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Because they suck. Pretty simple.
I guess I just haven't had any significant issues with them. I've never accidentally tackled or shot someone, I don't Kramer my way into every single building, and everything just kinda works for me, overall.

It doesn't feature the best control scheme I've ever encountered, but I'm pretty comfortable with it and I'm not that far into the game.
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Old 11-09-2018, 10:20 AM   #17
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I guess I just haven't had any significant issues with them. I've never accidentally tackled or shot someone, I don't Kramer my way into every single building, and everything just kinda works for me, overall.

It doesn't feature the best control scheme I've ever encountered, but I'm pretty comfortable with it and I'm not that far into the game.
Rockstar games never do, it's whatever they use for a physics engine imo, it's heavy handed which affects animations to a ridiculous level, making all their titles varying degrees of sluggish.
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Old 11-09-2018, 07:32 PM   #18
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Game of the decade
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Old 12-03-2018, 02:25 PM   #19
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The wife got me this for my Bday. I have to say, clunky controls aside, it's quite alot of fun. Lot to do and craft, I love open world games offer that. Hunting is quite fun too.
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Old 12-04-2018, 05:24 AM   #20
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I got two legendary beasts over the weekend, the Moose and the Ram. The legendary wolf killed me.

I also went up north and captured the white stallion, though I doubt it will last long since the Lemoyne Raiders keep popping up randomly and killing me and my horse. I’ve been trying to keep my bounty paid off, but if you follow the main quests it’s impossible since Dutch always gets you into some robbery and even with a mask on, your bounty still goes up.

I honestly think the mask thing is bugged. I tried robbing a train and a stagecoach with a mask on and both times they identified me and it added a bounty. You shouldn’t get a bounty on your head if they can’t identify you.

I also killed some random dude way up in the mountains and there was no one around anywhere and after I left the area all the sudden there was a witness and they identified me and added a bounty. What’s the point in trying to hide your kills if they are just going to be found even after you leave the area?

I did the first two parts of A Bright and Shining Boy. Great stranger quest. It was hard to do, because I didn’t realize you had to show up between 10 PM and 2 AM and I kept missing it, because by the time I rode all the way up the mountain it was past those times. I wish they had some kind of a message that said “come back between xx:xx hours” when that happens.

Great game, but I’m a little bummed that it is so hard to keep a horse alive. I got this great horse that was white with black spots from one of the camp quests and the raiders shot and killed it right out from under me and I was being super careful with it. They need “horse insurance” so you can replace your good horses.
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