PAX East 2010 Hands On: Red Dead Redemption

PAX East 2010 Hands On: Red Dead Redemption

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When it comes to sandbox-style games, the gold standard is Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, so it's not terribly surprising to discover that the upcoming Red Dead Redemption is cut from very much the same cloth. At the same time, its setting in the Old West gives the by-now well-worn gameplay a completely fresh feeling. Plus, you get to make chickens explode in a frenzy of feathers, which has to count for something.

You play as John Marston, a former outlaw who has changed his ways, gotten married, and settled down. But since domestic bliss wouldn't be much of a game, the government nabs your family and gives you your mission: round up (and preferably kill) your old gang or else. Saddle up, it's time to spill some blood.

Redemption's gameplay will immediately feel familiar to anyone used to GTA or similar sandbox-style games. Either on horse or on foot, you can roam around the wild prairie as you search for your old cohorts or complete side quests. You can expect to run into some critters out there in the wilderness, but you can hunt them, skin them, and sell their pelts for profit. I couldn't get an answer on whether or not you could also eat the meat to regain health, but after playing the game, I'm guessing not. Your health regenerates, so just taking cover for a few seconds should usually be all you need. Medicine will cover the times when you're really in danger of pushing up daisies.

The weapons are what you'd expect from the game's Old West setting: you'll acquire a healthy sampling of pistols, shotguns, rifles, and even a Gatling gun. You also have a "Dead Eye" ability, which is something like bullet time. Activate it, and time stops, giving you a brief opportunity to paint your victim with targets. Hit the button, and you open up a hail of gunfire on the targets and decimate the bad guy. If the bad guy in question also happens to be a chicken, it'll pretty much vaporize in an explosion of feathers. Not that, you know, I tried that during the demo, or anything. Sicko.

GTA IV was a pretty fine looking game, but I have to say, I greatly prefer Red Dead Redemption's wide open spaces and scenic vistas. You can see for miles, it seems, and if you can see it, you can ride to it. The game also has a day/night cycle, allowing you to enjoy both the sun-baked beauty of the desert and the cool loveliness of moonlight. Yes, I'm romanticizing a bit, but it's hard not to when you see the game. It is a Western, after all. You can collect various kinds of horses, all of which are beautifully animated, and add them to your stable. The voice acting and soundtrack are top notch, too.

The demo I played was fairly short and to the point, highlighting Red Dead Redemption's combat and cover system, but it made me want to play more. They wouldn't tell me whether or not you can visit a brothel (I doubt it, what with you being married and all) or tell me about the upcoming DLC (that announcement should be out next week, but mark my words, it'll be multiplayer or co-op), but I saw more than enough to pique my interest. GTA IV was just too dreary for me. I felt hemmed in not only by Nico's criminal doings but also by the city itself. Red Dead Redemption looks to have all the technological power of GTA IV without the claustrophobia. Or the obnoxious cousin with a cell phone fixation.

Red Dead Redemption will be out May 18th.

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\Glad to see the battle system is pretty cool! Dosnt sound as bad as I originally labelled it...

I want a Gatling gun! I bet that could cause some pretty sweet havoc!

So instead of cell phones I can expect messenger pigeons? Or messenger hawks? Because hawks are more awesome than pigeons or cell phones.

And the game is looking solid. I'm just debating which platform I want it on.

Looks like my type of game, may be tempted to get it when I can be bothered to get my 360 fixed.

Mr. Grey:
So instead of cell phones I can expect messenger pigeons? Or messenger hawks? Because hawks are more awesome than pigeons or cell phones.

And the game is looking solid. I'm just debating which platform I want it on.

We were chuckling about that. The Pony Express comes tearing into scene...."Telegram!" shouts the winded rider. Frowning, John opens the envelope...

COUSIN! STOP. WANT TO GO HUNT BEARS? STOP. TELEGRAM ME BACK. STOP.

Susan Arendt:

Mr. Grey:
So instead of cell phones I can expect messenger pigeons? Or messenger hawks? Because hawks are more awesome than pigeons or cell phones.

And the game is looking solid. I'm just debating which platform I want it on.

We were chuckling about that. The Pony Express comes tearing into scene...."Telegram!" shouts the winded rider. Frowning, John opens the envelope...

COUSIN! STOP. WANT TO GO HUNT BEARS? STOP. TELEGRAM ME BACK. STOP.

Well, Pony Express trumps messenger hawks. Because I can hijack the horse and effectively leave the mailman high and dry. That will by my answer to dear ol' cousin.

"The mail won't go through... not today."

hmmm I think might check this game out.

The setup sounds "Unforgiven"...

Is there a shooting trainer where you have the option to ditch the six and grab your 2-bar?

'Cuz, that would be pretty awesome.

This was my second favorite demo at the show (The first by far being The Behemoth's Battle Block Theater). I've always thought a Western would be the perfect setting for a sandbox game.

did everyone forget about red dead revolver ? the first game in this franchise. : ( that was one of my favorite xbox original games too..

This is my #1 highest anticipated game of 2010... I've been looking forward to this for some time... Can't wait!

I'm actually quite looking forward to this, the old West is a great setting for a sandbox game, not to mention underused.
I'm just hoping that I can get to GoW3 and FFXIII before this comes out, damn my work and friends and other hobbies. There's just never enough time, if only I didn't have to sleep, what a waste of 8 hours!

rpspartin:
did everyone forget about red dead revolver ? the first game in this franchise. : ( that was one of my favorite xbox original games too..

No, of course not. Red Dead Revolver was surprisingly good, but just a bit rough around the edges. Redemption improves on its predecessor in pretty much every way possible.

Susan Arendt:
GTA IV was just too dreary for me. I felt hemmed in not only by Nico's criminal doings but also by the city itself. Red Dead Redemption looks to have all the technological power of GTA IV without the claustrophobia. Or the obnoxious cousin with a cell phone fixation.>

Yea and you only notice those things after playing it for about a week. I have a feeling RDR is going to have a bunch of other annoying qualities.
I'm giving this a rental like I wish I had done with gta4.
R* was the gold standard for sandbox last gen but (for me) Bethesda set the new standard. I can see how many would disagree though, especially those who like prime time crime dramas.

GonzoGamer:

Susan Arendt:
GTA IV was just too dreary for me. I felt hemmed in not only by Nico's criminal doings but also by the city itself. Red Dead Redemption looks to have all the technological power of GTA IV without the claustrophobia. Or the obnoxious cousin with a cell phone fixation.>

Yea and you only notice those things after playing it for about a week. I have a feeling RDR is going to have a bunch of other annoying qualities.
I'm giving this a rental like I wish I had done with gta4.
R* was the gold standard for sandbox last gen but (for me) Bethesda set the new standard. I can see how many would disagree though, especially those who like prime time crime dramas.

Quite possibly. We'll have to see when we get our hands on a review copy. Staaaaay tuned!

yep, making chickens explode in a cloud of feathers was the best part of Lucasart's Outlaws too...

Definatly something to look out for, definatly something i hope to get :D

Sounds a lot like Gun to me? Even down to the bullet time mechanic.

This along with Portal 2 is looking like the most enjoyable game I'll buy this year. I haven't played all that much GTA (I wasn't allowed to buy 18 games until a few years ago and by then I'd heard GTA4 was crap so I didn't bother) but this looks like a much more interesting game to me. Partially because no one seems to have a brilliant game out of Spaghetti Westerns yet.

It certainly looks like there's a lot to do and see. It seems like it's treading a fine line between realism and fun, but then again this game once again has the advantage of being set in a world I don't see by stepping out my front door (I live in a small ye' old English city not Liberty City but you get the idea).

Plus the story segments I've seen so far look promising, the characters certainly seem to stand out to me.

number2301:
Sounds a lot like Gun to me? Even down to the bullet time mechanic.

To be fair I don't doubt the majority of old western games have some sort of bullet time mechanic. If you wish to be authentic the guns are going to be pretty lacking in the epic department, so there's got to be something to spice up gun play, and what with the whole sharp shooters, fast draw types from the movies this sort of gimmick just seems to fit. Call of...something or other did the same thing too I believe.

number2301:
Sounds a lot like Gun to me? Even down to the bullet time mechanic.

So far, Gun has the best Western setting out there.
Thomas Jane is an awesome actor! Punisher, woo!although Steve Blum is my favorite...
I hope Red Dead Redemption will live up to my expectations of awesome! currently my #2 most anticipated game of 2010.
Fallout New Vegas is #1

SomeBritishDude:
This along with Portal 2 is looking like the most enjoyable game I'll buy this year. I haven't played all that much GTA (I wasn't allowed to buy 18 games until a few years ago and by then I'd heard GTA4 was crap so I didn't bother) but this looks like a much more interesting game to me. Partially because no one seems to have a brilliant game out of Spaghetti Westerns yet.

It certainly looks like there's a lot to do and see. It seems like it's treading a fine line between realism and fun, but then again this game once again has the advantage of being set in a world I don't see by stepping out my front door (I live in a small ye' old English city not Liberty City but you get the idea).

Plus the story segments I've seen so far look promising, the characters certainly seem to stand out to me.

number2301:
Sounds a lot like Gun to me? Even down to the bullet time mechanic.

To be fair I don't doubt the majority of old western games have some sort of bullet time mechanic. If you wish to be authentic the guns are going to be pretty lacking in the epic department, so there's got to be something to spice up gun play, and what with the whole sharp shooters, fast draw types from the movies this sort of gimmick just seems to fit. Call of...something or other did the same thing too I believe.

Call of Juarez was pretty good. I played Ray al the way through.

A friend of mine was a playtester of this for a while until Rockstar cut a bunch of their Massachusetts team, but everything he said made me extremely excited about this, and this little snippet confirms my desires. I can't wait to get this.

Ah, it sounds great. I've always wanted a decent Wild Western sandbox. Some RPG elements would have been nice as well (something in the vein of Fallout 3). That and I always thought it be a great game feature to customize your own firearms, like that scene from The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly. I want Tuco's gun!

Can't wait, one of my first favorite games was Red Dead Revolver and this looks just as awesome, hopfully with the diverse Indian/Chinaman enemies, it was so fun fighting those guys on an unfinished railroad.

EDIT: Year aniversery post for me!!

number2301:
Sounds a lot like Gun to me? Even down to the bullet time mechanic.

Well, pretty much all western games have had some form of bullet time, ever since Red Dead Revolver introduced Dead Eye.

 

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