There seems to be an open-world game for most jobs and scenarios these days. Want to be a covert spy? There’s an open-world based mission structure for that. Future city cop? Go explore and catch some perps. Just realised the Earth’s reduced to irradiated rubble? The world’s your oyster, 101. How about a Western? Have we got something open-world for a Western?
Well, we do now. The pioneers of the gameplay mechanic in Grand Theft Auto
, Rockstar, is revamping the Red Dead
series in Redemption
, the sequel to 2004’s Red Dead Revolver
on Xbox and PlayStation 2. What was once a tongue-in-cheek, straightforward third person shooter is now a more stylish, serious sandbox affair, where your every move has an impact on the world around you.
You play as John Marston, a veteran sharpshooter who’s forced to come out of retirement and hunt down his former gunslinger partner before he causes harm to his family. This all takes place in a changing Wild West - the North and South of the country is still in conflict in this time period and the advances in technology make for an uncertain future in a once lawless land. Areas you get to explore on horseback include West Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and Mexico, the latter of which is in the middle of a civil war with revolutions regularly taking place.
My preview began on the top of a ridge, where Marston had camped out for the night. Campsites act as consumable save points, so if you want to take a break and are far away from the nearest town, using one of these babies will save you a lot of grief. As you progress in the game, you can level up in an RPG style and obtain access to better campsites, which besides changing visual appearance can improve your stats when you settle down.
As Marston wakes up and heads for the nearest town on his trusty horse, I’m told there are two core factors that run throughout Red Dead Redemption
- Fame and Honour. Improving on one can impact the other, but you can play the game to balance both out if you wish.
The world reacts differently to someone with a lot of notoriety and little honour, for example. Trade prices in shops will be artificially higher for those seen as an outlaw, while rival gunmen will frequently challenge you to duels. Of course, the reverse is true if you have a lot of honour, but that can bring its own problems.
Just like in any other open-world scenario, non-playable characters engage in various events around you and you can participate in community happenings if you want to. On the way to a local town, I saw a firing squad about to execute some revolutionaries - of course, if you were a sympathiser, you could take out the firing squad and set the prisoners free.
In another instance, in helping some local law enforcement officers and taking out some runaway criminals, Marston’s horse was stolen by a random outlaw as he was helping himself to a reward. Luckily, a quick whistle will make your obedient horse throw the little bugger onto the desert ground, where you can kill and loot him for daring to take your Black Beauty.