This won’t be the most timely blog I’ve ever posted, considering that the original Red Dead Redemption was released on May 18, 2010, while the sequel, Red Dead Redemption II, was released on October 26, 2018. I bought both immediately upon release (though Amazon, so I didn’t receive them on release day) but I didn’t play either of them until now, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown and the lack of Major League Baseball.
If that wasn’t odd enough, I also played them out of order. I played RDR2 before I played the first RDR, which ended up being a blessing in disguise, as RDR2 is actually a prequel, and ends where the first game actually begins. So I’ll review the series in that order, beginning with RDR2 on the PS4 and then covering RDR on the PS3.
It took me roughly 30 days to play my way through 100% of the story mode of RDR2, playing roughly two hours per night. While I was slow to get started, within a couple of days I was completely hooked. The main playable character, Arthur Morgan, is great. He is the ultimate anti-hero. I enjoyed controlling him every bit as much as I did Batman in the Arkham series. Graphically, the game is incredible. A huge open-world, missions that actually make sense and smooth storytelling are some of the highlights of RDR2.
The first RDR is a step down on every level, but that’s to be expected since it’s being played on an inferior console. It took me 16 days to play through 100% of the game but I also put more time in per day. The main playable character, John Marston, is also a playable character in RDR2, following the death of Arthur Morgan. The point at which you take over John Marston was a negative for me on RDR2, and that feeling continued when I played RDR1. I just wasn’t a fan of John Marston as a character.
Just as you have to transition from Arthur Morgan to John Marston in RDR2, you have to transition from John Marston to his son, Jack Marston, following John being killed near the end of the RDR1 story mode. I found this transition much more enjoyable, as I think Jack Marston would have made a great main character.
If there is ever to be a third entry in the series, it would be better to roll it back before the events of RDR2, because there is a lot of talk about what happened prior to the game’s beginning, while the events involving Jack Marston at the end of RDR1 are taking place in 1915, not the best time frame for a game set in the “old west.”
I’m not crazy about the concept of a prequel game being followed by another prequel, but it would be better than nothing and would help to flesh out the story in RDR2, which opens with the Van der Linde gang already on the run after a botched ferry heist in Blackwater. A third game could cover the attempted ferry heist and what lead up to that point, including how the Van der Linde gang came to be together in the first place.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION (2010): FOUR STARS OUT OF FIVE
At first, I was going to rate the game three stars out of five, but I realized I was unfairly holding the hardware against the game. Yes, the PS3 isn’t as good as the PS4 and it’s really obvious when playing RDR1, especially in the cut scenes. Bad camera angles were a really bad problem as well. However, when taking that out of the equation, the game is outstanding. The story is really good and well written, but there are quite a few wild goose chases searching for Bill Williamson and Dutch Van der Linde. This is especially annoying when in Mexico. It made the game feel overlong even though I finished it in nearly half the time it took to finish RDR2. There’s just too much “down time.”
RED DEAD REDEMPTION II (2018): FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE
There’s really no other way to say it, other than MLB The Show, this is my favorite video game of all time, and I’ve been playing video games since 1983 when I got my ColecoVision console and fell in love with Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong, Jr. It’s perfect. The graphics, the gameplay, the story telling, the game mechanics, it’s all perfect. The cut scenes are must-watch (whereas I found myself skipping the cut scenes on RDR1 by the time I was 75% through story mode). My only complaint was that Arthur Morgan was killed and the story transitioned to John Marston, but I understand why that was done given the fact that the entire RDR1 game revolves around John Marston and his family.
If you enjoy gaming and you haven’t played both of these, I can’t recommend them enough. I would, however, suggest you play them as I did, playing RDR2 first since it’s a prequel. It makes the story flow better between the games, with the only negative being going from the PS4 graphics to the PS3 graphics. But it’s well worth it in the end.
Thank you for taking the time to read. God bless.