Just a few months ago, Rockstar released a Western experience styled video game, and the second part of the Red Dead Redemption franchise, after a near decade-long wait.  While the game was postponed several times – just to prolong the suspense of one being able to saddle up their old nag again – most would agree that the wait was well worth it. As many would compare Red Dead Redemption One to be a “Western GTA,” it was certainly known from the start that RDR2 wouldn’t just be a Western GTA. Rather, it shows off a beautiful story that allows the player to take control of the reins at any point. This aspect also steers the outcome of the game in any direction, depending upon the choices made throughout the available main and side missions. The setting of the game is the Mid-Western United States in the late 1800s, while the main character is a tough, once misguided, orphan who slipped into the grip of the Silver-Tounged Bandit. Arthur Morgan is your primary guide who equips you with a map that is so big that it would take half an hour in real time to ride on horseback from one end to the other.  

Let’s get into the specifics of the engine that created this Western reality. When the game opens up, you are trekking through the Western Grizzly Mountain range trying to find cover and camp from the upcoming storm. The first thing I noticed was the in-depth physics engine this game brought. With my game being on Xbox One X and a true 4K Ultra HD TV, it just seemed as though everything was enhanced. With each step your cowboy takes in the snow, mud, sand, swamp, or any of the other various environments, you make out a clear footprint. The dynamics of your horse walking, trotting, galloping, jumping, and sliding truly immerses you to feel in a way that replicates being in the saddle yourself.

This game brings a different story than that of the first Red Dead. Rather than a run-and-gun John Marston, we have a loyal son-like muscle-man who matures mentally and emotionally as the story progresses. At first, Arthur Morgan is a rugged cowpoke who will do what the others either cannot or will not do. Within the first two chapters, you will fall for this character and the bond that he has with a certain fellow in the group, as well as his horse – whichever you may choose. You’ll end up finding yourself saying phrases like “you’re alright boy.” Of course, this will be said in a Western accent that you have no business trying to perfect.

There is really so much to do in the game outside of the main storyline, and I think that is one of the very – and I mean very – few downfalls of the game. I say this because you cannot go back and complete the side missions after you leave them. The game is set for 6 chapters and 2 epilogue chapters. As you move from chapter to chapter you will lose side missions, and from that, different experiences and novelties along with them. An upside to all the extra items in the game is that there is always something new to find. Even when I am on my third playthrough (and 100’s of hours deep into pretending to be a cowboy), I still somehow end up finding a strange mission I never knew about. Beside the side missions, the game offers a very realistic tracking and hunting aspect that is absolutely necessary. I mean necessary in two ways, with the first meaning that your character needs to eat, drink, and maintain a sustainable condition or he will fall to illnesses. The second being that it is just fun as hell to hunt these animals, especially the numerous legendary animals that, once taken down, can be crafted into specialty clothing with their loot.

To wrap this review up, I would highly recommend the Red Dead Redemption 2 experience if you like a story that will make you laugh, cry, and piss you off all at the same time… all while sitting horseback with a lever action and dual wielding 6 shooters.

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