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Red Dead Redemption 2 (Video Game Review)

Updated on December 17, 2018

*My review will contain spoilers*

This game, like many of Rockstar's line-up, hits it right out of the park. From beginning to end I was consistently riveted by the several hours worth of story, entertained by countless amounts of side quests and random occurrences around the insanely large open world, wowed by the impressive visuals as well as perfect music ques in every scene. I loved this game and everything it had to offer. I wouldn't consider myself a gamer so to attempt to review this game on a technical aspect in terms of game-play or controls would be silly, although I do plan to touch on that briefly. Mainly what I would like to discuss is story, character, pacing, cinematography, and voice acting.

I suppose before getting into the nitty-gritty of the sequel, I feel that it's appropriate to share my thoughts on its predecessor to give a better understanding of my mindset going into this installment. Unfortunately I never got around to playing Rockstar's "Red Dead Revolver" from 2004, but I have played 2010's "Red Dead Redemption"; a game that I claim to be one of the greatest games I have ever played. Joining the party a few years late, after all the hype surrounding the game amongst friends as well as the internet, I was somewhat worried that I would find the game underwhelming in the case it was possibly over-hyped. However, it turned out that I absolutely adored it. The writing blew me away and even broke my heart in parts, the action and violence were deviously enjoyable, the game mechanics felt natural and fluid, the world building was incredible, the side missions were fun, and John Marston is easily one of my favorite game characters ever. He's funny, charismatic, a total bad ass, and extremely sympathetic. You get a real feel for who this man is, interesting ideas about his past and where he is now in seeking redemption. "Red Dead Redemption" gives great detail, as well as great care, to its world and its characters, something that is heavily carried over in its follow-up.

"Red Dead Redemption 2" supplies everything the first game had to offer; from a well-crafted story, interesting characters that are likable, exciting action beats, addictive game-play, and a full world that feels truly lived in. It is quite remarkable what they have accomplished with this game. I mean they put such attention to detail, not only in a physical matter, but within character interactions too. The plot focuses 12 years prior to the events of the first game, so it is less a sequel and more of a prequel, but I would still strongly recommend that you play the 2010 game first before getting into the sequel because when the player has some of the context about what will happen to certain characters later on it gives everything even more poignancy. Anyways, in this prequel we mainly follow a character named Arthur Morgan, an outlaw that is joined up with Dutch Van Der Linde's gang who also includes John Marston, Abigail, Uncle, and Bill Williamson from the first game; plus a few new faces that haven't been seen before. Arthur is pretty much Dutch's right hand man, there's a real bond and trust between the two that brings a good amount of depth to the Dutch character that wasn't necessarily seen previously. From the beginning Dutch and the whole gang are on the run from the law, as well as certain other outlaws that try to put an end to them, after a robbery went wrong. Moving from location to location throughout the entirety of the story just trying to shake them and gather enough money to hopefully put their troubles behind them for good and disappear from everyone who wishes them harm.

Early on, you get a sense of how this gang works and why these people have taken refuge with Dutch. The game shows how inspiring and charming Dutch was in his prime. And over the course of the game, which takes place over a few months approximately, you see his descent from a powerful figure among the group to a man where the lines have blurred so much you're not sure if he's really doing things to benefit everyone or just what suits himself. When starting the game, I wasn't too sure of what to make of Arthur Morgan. I was concerned that he wasn't going to be nearly as interesting of a character to follow as John Marston was in the first game; especially since John Marston is also a major supporting role. But luckily I was proven wrong. We see a man full of several layers, with a dark past and a personality that I can see how it fed into Marston to lead him into becoming the man that he does later in life. Arthur Morgan is a bad man, trying his best to do the right thing. When you learn more and more about the things that have happened to him, how he got to this point, and what he's going through now; it leads to some pretty impactful moments. In lesser hands, Arthur could have come across as a 2-Dimensional, generic cowboy hard ass. With Rockstar though, he is given a backstory full of intrigue and sadness. I don't want to go too deep into spoiler heavy details about the game, but know that this game recaptures a lot of the heart ache that is felt from the first; which Arthur has a lot to do with in multiple points of the story.

The world created here is ridiculously filled with so much content, I'm honestly not sure how I'm going to do it all. From talking to people on the street, random scenarios that play out in the world such as robberies or kidnappings, you can also rob stagecoaches and trains, go fishing, hunting, drinking, horseback riding (obviously), play poker, blackjack, swimming, mountain climbing, dozens of side quests involving toy boats, science experiments, bounty hunting, taking pictures, watching silent films and plays, searching for buried treasure, helping out a traveling zoo, cook, farm animals, discover plants, and so much more.

Plus there seems to be a couple of different ways that the story can play out, or at least certain things that happen in the world from the choices that you make; which will also preoccupy my time I'm sure. I will say that if I do have any minor criticisms it would be the handful of bugs I ran into while playing; occasionally my character would get stuck in spots that made no sense, I would supposedly be getting arrested but then a weird moment of the game freezing for a couple seconds and then all of the sudden the game declares that I've died. Some textures wouldn't pop in for a bit longer than it should. With all that being said I believe this game, along with the first, to be masterpieces. The storytelling and world building is something right out of a Michael Cimino film like "Heaven's Gate". Most of everything I've played under this developer I have enjoyed and I still look forward to their seemingly bright future. Frankly, I'm ready for "Red Dead Redemption 3". Something I never thought I would say since I thought the first to be a great stand alone that shouldn't be tampered with, but after playing the second I am all for another sequel.

Red Dead Redemption 2 on PS4

© 2018 John Plocar


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