Red Dead Redemption 2
The first Red Dead Redemption came out in May of 2010, and it was arguably one of the most ground-breaking games at the time. It offered an open-world cowboy experience, multiple options of playing as a bandit, hundreds of hours of side quests, and mechanics that make the player truly feel like a cowboy from the old west. Almost no other game came close to the quality that Red Dead Redemption offered. The Dead Eye system is still unmatched nine years later because of how intuitive it works, and how it makes every gun fight that much more intense. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the highly-anticipated sequel, and with nine years in the making, it should be worth the wait.
Let's get something out of the way, it is a miracle Red Dead Redemption looks this good on modern day consoles this late in the generation, even on launch PS4s and Xbox Ones. If the 100+ Gigabyte download was not enough to convince you, nothing will. Animations are also amazing, and while every game is striving to be as close to real life as possible, Rockstar is always ahead of the curb. Whether it be the way horses run across the land, or the way coats and jacket move with the wind, or the way wheels ride through the mud, every aspect of Animation in Red Dead Redemption 2 is near flawless.
A game can look pretty, but at the end of the day, what really matters is how a game plays. Just like a car, it can have a beautiful body and engine, but if cannot handle a turn with ease, it still falls behind other games in terms of fun and replay-ability. The honest truth is that Rockstar Games has spent so much time making the game look good, they forget to remember that a game should also play good. It's not like they changed the whole system, everything in Red Dead Redemption 2 feels just like it did in the first game, but where it counts in terms of exploration and mission variety, that is where the game seems to lack.
It has to be said, the first two or three hours of Red Dead Redemption 2 are nothing more than holding the X button and watching in-game cutscenes play. Very little is done in the gameplay department, except for a few moments of high-velocity gun chases. The game feels very scripted because it wants to ease you into all the mechanics of the game. Fair enough, but when the world actually opens up, you look back and realize you did not learn that much. Then when you are ready to be the cowboy you are, your bank account is filled with money and every mission is almost the same. It usually falls into the variety of go to destination A and assassinated target, or follow target, or get a haircut with target.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a lot more story-driven than the first one, and Rockstar seems to feel proud of their story as the game progresses. However, and while story can be subjective, it is hard to tell a story about a ruthless cowboy when none of the actions are ruthless, and you have enough money to buy multiple houses. The story is about a group of cowboys and prostitutes wining about how they are having trouble with money. Meanwhile, the player can get fully equipped with the best clothes, guns, and horses in a few hours. Nothing feels valid or real.
The problem is there are moments when Red Dead Redemption 2 really does feel like an amazing game. When you are given a target, and you find the target, and then you go on a 10 minute chase across a canyon on a train, it feels so unique that no other game could match. When you compare the time you are having fun with the game though, it is severely minimal compared to the time you are not having fun. Those moment are great moments, but you have to go through a lot to enjoy the game at that point.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is not a bad game, far from it, but considering how much quality everything else has, and how the first Red Dead Redemption offers more in terms of content, quality, and longevity, it makes Red Dead Redemption 2's failures that much more evident.