Red Dead Redemption was one of the best games I played in 2010. Well, I’m finished playing it in 2011, so it might be the best game I played in 2011 too :). If you haven’t played it, its Grand Theft Horse, basically. Same developers, same engine. But the story in RDR was a lot more interesting to me than GTA was. I think when you set a game in modern day, you really have to get every little detail right, because people’s brains are so used to seeing that stuff, that you will notice if the cars are too shiny, or the windows don’t reflect right, and all kinds of other things just won’t look quite right. But when you set a game in the wild wild west, not a lot of people are used to riding horses, or herding cattle so you aren’t going to notice little things that are incorrect.
Even so, I can say that I hated herding cattle. Seriously. One time is enough to show me the hardships of the old west, but one time is more than enough herding cattle for me :).
The interesting (no spoilers!) thing about the story is that while it might have been a little predictable, I think part of that predictability came from really understanding the main character and his predicament, and the helplessness of the whole situation. There were certainly things that I personally wouldn’t have done in that situation, but I know that John Marston would have. I saw most of what I’d call “Act III” coming, and yet when things started unfolding I was not disappointed at all. It was somehow…fitting.
The dead-eye system worked really well for shooting, especially from the back of a moving horse. The duel thing was ok, but I didn’t realize until real late in the game that there was a rhythm factor to the shooting that I didn’t notice (or missed in the first tutorial), so a couple of the story related duels I failed and had to do over and over and I never noticed that there was a specific indicator to watch for while aiming.
My only other real complaint (aside from the frigging cattle rustling!) was some of the voice acting. It seems like a ton of the dialog was just yelling. Yelling for no reason. Yes, people are riding horses so you might need to increase the volume of the dialog, but that doesn’t mean the actors should just be yelling all the time. That just decreases its impact when people really should be yelling.
The hunting/gathering/treasure quests were ok, but what made me stop completely stop dong them was the last gathering one. Get 15 of x, fine, I’ve been doing that the whole game. But “get 15 of plant x, and 2 more of every other plant?” Screw that. Get your own plants you jerks!