An online multiplayer option is slated for release as a pubic beta in Nov. of 2018. (Photo courtesy of Rockstar Games)

Aaron Robinson
Connector Editor

“Red Dead Redemption 2” was released on Oct. 26 to huge fanfare, as more than seven years had passed since the release of the universally acclaimed “Red Dead Redemption.”

This game, the third in the “Red Dead” series and a direct prequel to “Red Dead Redemption,” has fixed most of the complaints from its prequel and expanded on the world map and graphics.

The story follows Arthur Morgan, an outlaw and a member of the Van der Linde gang, and also includes the original “Red Dead Redemption” protagonist John Marston in the same gang.

During the opening credits and introduction of the plot, much time is dedicated to setting the scene and displaying the climate. While it is incredibly realistic, it does drag on for a little too long.

Following the intro, Morgan is on a horse ride that again takes far too much time before anything of consequence happens, but little details like the speed in which Morgan can traverse through the snow shows how much thought went into the design. While drawn out beginnings are usually a staple in action games, about 12 minutes of real time passes before any commands are needed besides pressing a single button.

Despite the slow beginning, once the game gets started, it moves along pretty quickly. The story is amazingly well crafted and has the authentic western feel the game was going for.

Players might feel most frustrated with a lack of a fast-travel system, as crossing the map is so slow and never picks up, even though many events can occur while walking or riding.

Among the additions, dual-wielding weapons and swimming are now options and in game decisions pilot a majority of how the player wants Morgan to appear. Rob Nelson, Co-Studio Head at Rockstar North, said: “We try to give you options within a lot of these missions to choose how you approach it, whether you’ll send your buddies in first or whether you’ll go in first.”

Morgan can choose different dialogue trees with non-playable characters;he can have a simple friendly chat with an individual,  threaten them for the player’s own personal interest, or he can kill them and loot the corpse.

Although the game is incredibly realistic, there are times when the realism is too frustrating. Weapon and item degradation causes important food to rot and guns have to be maintained closely or they will be rendered useless during important times. Characters have to bathe regularly and depending on their diet, gain or lose weight which affects their movement. Each of these things are underused or flat out ignored in most games, and if players wanted to take care of characters, they could just play “Sims” instead.

Even though some tasks are menial, they are impossibly satisfying. Chopping wood brings in minimal useful rewards, but watching Morgan raise an ax above his head, then bring it down in a fluid motion just feels right. Similarly, each motion a character performs feels right, meaning a lot of time was invested in not only the landscape, but every little motion detail was perfected by the design team.

The bountiful amount of side missions is just another great addition to the game. Players that love to play after the main story ends are in for a world of treats. There has to be at least enough side missions to fill up two or three lesser games. Each mission, whether small or large, serious or funny, is a joy to complete.

The climate might be the most aesthetically pleasing aspect of the game. The map spans snow-covered mountain regions, dense swamps, dramatic oil fields and even a sizeable New Orleans-inspired city. There’s also a secret, sprawling area players would love to travel through.

The game’s soundtrack is comprehensive and composer Woody Jackson did a sensational job creating unique sounds for every scenario Morgan finds himself in. The music can dovetail between shredding player’s nerves during a terrifying cave assault involving cannibals to perking up a scene where Morgan and his pals celebrate some successful missions by downing all the whiskey.

“Red Dead Redemption 2” offers a sharp script, genuinely creative gameplay and dialogue, amazing tech and one of the best structured plots in a video game in quite some time. Besides the minor tedious gameplay mechanics, this game has the possibility of being named the best game of the year.

Final Grade: A-

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