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Chris Kavan's Video Game Reviews (477)

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Maneater 3/5
Door Kickers: Action Sq... 4/5
Spider-Man (2018) 4.5/5
Red Dead Redemption 2 4.5/5
Boot Hill Heroes 3.5/5
Control 4/5
Victor Vran 3/5
Katamari Damacy REROLL 4/5
SIMULACRA 3/5
Hitman: Absolution 3.5/5
Alternativa 2.5/5
Stardew Valley 4/5
Undertale 4/5
Cyberpunk 2077 3/5
Fable Anniversary 3/5
Strange Brigade 4/5
Satellite Reign 3/5
Watch Dogs 2 4/5
Divinity: Original Sin 2 4.5/5
Marvel: Ultimate Allian... 3/5
Star Trek: Bridge Crew 3/5
Metro 2033 3.5/5
South Park: The Fractur... 4/5
Sundered 3.5/5
Mass Effect: Andromeda 3.5/5

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Red Dead Redemption 2   PC (Steam) 

How the West Was Done    4.5/5 stars

Rockstar is not stranger to bringing larger-than-life open worlds to the masses. Obviously Grand Theft Auto is their main series - and, aside from some questionable remakes and a heavy-hand with fan-made creations - they have been good at improving with each new entry. While Red Dead Redemption doesn't get as much attention, it is more than just Grand Theft Auto but Cowboys. Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a prequel to Red Dead Redemption and does a fading old west justice by presenting both memorable characters and story and some truly great visuals. As long as you're willing to put in the time, it's a great experience.

Looks and Stuff: While my somewhat aging computer may not be the best platform to judge it, Red Dead Redemption 2, even after four years time, looks amazing. While the character animation and voices are top-notch, it's really the setting that is the star of this game. I have to say in most open-world games the ability to fast travel just feels right - even in Cyberpunk I was happy to get to where I needed to be as fast as possible at a certain point. And while fast travel does become available in Red Dead Redemption 2, I hardly ever used it just because jumping on my horse and riding out felt so good. Plains, forest, badlands, mountains, swamps - the game makes every place looks and feel different. Plus you get weather effects and a whole lot of nature - and the occasional stranger to help - or hinder - as you see fit. This world is full of just things to do and I admit I loved shooting up bandit camps just as much as I loved to run around picking herbs or hunting animals. The pitfall of such a beautiful canvas is that it took me so much longer to finish as it was easy to become distracted from the main story. The game features some amazing cut-scenes, original music and no celebrity voices, but plenty of voice-over talent. And I appreciate the work because there is a lot of dialogue to take in and it never feels strained. I had very few issues, some clipping here and there and a few crashes - but I blame most of it on my aged PC, not the game. It felt very polished and no quest or story bugs popped up, no T-posing or rag-doll jank - very smooth.

Story: The game follows the Van der Linde gang - led by Dutch van der Lind who, at the start of the game, are trying to recover from a job gone wrong in the town of Blackwater. Their money has been lost, they have lost two members of the gang and they find themselves in the frigid north, barely hanging on. We meet our protagonist, Arthur Morgan, right-hand man to Dutch and one of the longest-serving members of the gang along with Hosea Matthews, who is older and the main voice of reason. Early on, we also meet John Marston, who nearly dies after being separated and becoming a meal for wolves - along with his wife, Abigail and young son, Jack. This is no small gang, either - Molly O'Shea is Dutch's woman - though she argues with him constantly. Charles Smith is capable if quiet Native American, Susan Grimshaw is the harsh matron who keeps the other women in line: Karen Jones, Mary-Beth Gaskill and Tilly Jackson. Bill Williamson and Javier Escuella are fiercely loyal to Dutch and his vision. Leopold Strauss is the money man while Mr. Pearson is the cook. Sean Macguire and Lenny Summers are the newest members of the gang but both are eager to prove themselves. Uncle is a layabout who seemingly does little for the group, but is kept around for... I'm not rightly sure, but he's there too.

The story quickly introduces more characters. When the gang learns that a rival gang, the O'Driscolls, is nearby, they manage to save Sadie Adler but not her husband. While Sadie may seem like a heart-broken housewife, she will soon prove to be one of the fiercest members of the gang - one bent on revenge and sometimes a bit too eager to fight. The gang also learns they O'Driscoll's were planning on robbing a train belonging to oil magnate Leviticus Cornwall, and Dutch decides to one-up and rob it first. But this decision sets off a course of events that will have the gang running for the rest of the game, as they make an enemy of Cornwall and his Pinkerton army. The gang is rounded out by the hot-headed Micah Bell, who Dutch seems to like but Arthur and others do not, Reverend Swanson is gambling, drunken priest and Josiah Trelawny is a grifter who shows up now and again with good information. They also manage to snag Kieran Duffy, a young member of the O'Driscoll gang who, despite some initial distrust, decides he likes this group much better and stays on. While that's a whole lot of people to take in - the game does a good job of giving most of them a distinct personality, a bit of back-story and their own interactions with Arthur. Most of the game is the gang trying to make a big score - failing - running to find a new camp - and trying to make another big score. People are lost along the way and it soon becomes apparent that Dutch is also losing control. From feuding Southern families to big-city politics to an island paradise-turned-prison - the game goes to many places. And if the main story isn't enough, there are enough side-quests and characters to make your head spin - from a cross-dressing lion tamer to a pair of twin brothers to an old west serial killer - and many, many, MANY, more - don't skip out on any of the asides because, brother, that's where the fun is amidst some depressing times. I can't give away much more without spoiling but the epilogue to our story leads directly in to the events of Red Dead Redemption and does so quite handily.

Gameplay: A third-person sandbox game, you have a lot of control over what you can do. You have three main stats - health, stamina and dead-eye - all of which can be improved by just going through the game and also drinking certain items you can find. You always carry two guns - trusty revolvers and/or pistols, along with the ability to carry up to two more on your back (shotgun, rifle, repeater, bow). You also have throwing knives, dynamite, molotovs and melee weapons along with your trusty rope. While you start off with fairly simple weapons, throughout the course of the game you will will find many other (and better) options. You can clean your weapons with gun oil to get them back into shape and even customize them at the shop to make them look as damn fine as you want. There are a number of wheels - weapons being one, but also healing items, horse items and simply doing thinks like setting up camp or fishing (yes, you can hunt AND fish). It takes some getting used to but once you have it down, it becomes like second nature.

As this is a sandbox game, you will be riding and walking a lot. While some have complained things move too slow, I never found it that bad. Most houses you come across can be explored - and looted - and you will find plenty of stuff along the way. Food items heal you, tobacco improves dead eye and alcohol gives you stamina. Each of your three attributes also has a core and certain items you find or craft can increase this to give you additional temporary boosts in each category. The game gives you a lot of options from gambling to hunting legendary animals to tracking down various collectibles out in the world and, of course, all those side quests and strangers to help along the way. The best thing I can say is to explore - yes, it's easy to get side-tracked but that's where you find the best hidden Easter eggs and random stuff and it makes from a much better experience when you do.

Replay: I know the game has an online component meant to keep things going for as long as you want but I've never tried it and don't think it's my thing. For the core game, aside from deciding if you want to be bad or good, I don't think there's much that will affect the outcome of the main game and thus this is mostly a one and one kind of game - but there is so much to do, believe me that's more than enough.

Final Verdict: This is open-world gaming at its best and the worst thing I can say is that it's easy to get distracted but that's part of the fun.

Presentation: 5/5
Story: 5/5
Gameplay: 4/5
Replay: 3/5
Overall (not an average): 4.5/5

 

 


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