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Welcome Back to the West

Posted on Monday, August 1 2016 @ 08:11:29 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop his horse, overlooking the storm below.

After a few drenched minutes, the clouds begin to part and the brilliant sun shines out again. There’s not a moment to enjoy it, though, as John hears a gunshot off in the distance, followed by screams of terror. He pulls the reins around to the right and digs his heels into his steed, who grunts and takes off at a gallop.

The scene unfolding before him was a grim one: A man kicked helplessly as he hung by a noose wrapped around an old tree. A woman looked on crying from the ground, while three bandits cheered and sent volleys of celebratory bullets into the sky.

Six-shooters, John estimated, looking at the dull and rusty revolvers. Judging on the number of gunshots, there were only eleven rounds left between them. With only a brief pause, John pulled his pristine and lustrous, golden revolver. The newfound sunlight glinted off the barrel as John tilted his head so his hat blocked the light and took aim at the rope. He pressed his thumb on the hammer of his revolver, firmly to ensure he didn’t slip after the rain, and squeezed the trigger. The rope snapped, and the man fell to the ground gasping for air. The three bandits were perplexed at this sudden divine intervention. The next bullet from John’s gun found the bandit with the cleanest revolver, drilling him face first into the ground.

The two remaining bandits dropped to the ground in fear, and quickly began to scramble for nearby cover. As John took in a breath, one of the bandits snapped a round off. The small feather in John’s hat exploded, but the round skirted by harmlessly. At almost the same time, John pulled the trigger again, striking the man in the throat. He jerked his elbow backwards and down to absorb the recoil as he turned his hips to square up the remaining bandit. Not letting go of the trigger, he shot his other hand over the gun and slapped the hammer backwards. The gun barked again and sent a .44 slug into the man’s heart, pulverizing it and ending the man instantly.

John hopped off his horse and walked the last fifteen yards to the scene, where the woman was crying and holding her husband, thankful for his life. Next to the tree, the bandit with a fresh hole in his throat was pulling himself up to his knees, with a finger jammed deep into his neck. His other hand fumbled for his revolver, but couldn’t find it. John slowly walked over and raised his weapon, squeezing the trigger one more time and putting the lights out for good.

There is something to be said about a game that still manages to grab and hold my attention this long after it released. Red Dead Redemption came out back in 2010, and is widely regarded as the best game Rockstar ever made. Every scene feels like it was pulled right from the best Western movies. Tumbleweed rolls by, thunderstorms rage on over herds of fleeting cattle, gangs charge through towns shooting into the sky and yelling, and John Marston draws and shoots first.

The atmosphere to the game, to me, remains one of the best in the genre. Perhaps I’ve stumbled upon a very strong prescription of rose-tinted glasses, but I’m still having a blast. When I try to pick apart the ways the game shows its age, I always get pulled back in and forget all about the slightly sluggish controls. The frame-rate dips are gone with the Xbox One, though, and the load times are faster now, but otherwise the game remains the same. In all, I am thrilled to be playing such a beautiful game again. It takes me back to a much simpler time. No computers, no fancy cars or air planes. Just a man, a horse, and a few old guns. Don’t forget the lasso.

Side note, it seems that you can’t use money from your Microsoft account to buy the game on Xbox One, which was a frustrating surprise for me. Instead, find someone you trust with an Xbox 360 and let them into your account to do it. Or, buy the disc. Either way. Welcome back to the Old West! What was your favorite part of Red Dead Redemption?


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