One More Job.
Let me start by saying Red Dead Redemption II is a modern work of art. It is a true achievement of the 21st century and will almost definitely go down as such when people look back. Everything combined makes a great package, but, for all the love and adoration it has received, is it deserved? This isn’t to take lightly the thousands of hours that were spent building this world and filling it with characters and some of the most gorgeous scenery and landscapes that we have ever seen in a video game. But, what else new does this game bring to the table?
Red Dead Redemption II was set to be the major title of 2018. The most hotly anticipated game of the year aside from maybe one or two other games. And the reception was lukewarm at best. The positives that have already been mentioned are all accurate and there is no argument to them, the story is great and the graphics are phenomenal. But, there doesn’t seem to be much “new” with this iteration. There is no defining hook that separates it from the pack that defines it as a generational game. Not to mention the game is almost as tough to understand in the beginning as Kingdom Hearts. With so much established lore and characterization, the uneducated gamer may be completely lost at the beginning of the game, with so much context left unspoken that a character’s importance or even relevance to the overarching narrative is extremely unclear. Add the feeling of being behind before you even start the game to the brutal opening chapter and how much of a trudge it is to get to the actual game, and it just does not give a reason to keep playing.
The pacing of the game is absolutely egregious, the game is so slow that it is painful. Playing through the game it felt like reading Shakespeare, there is a reason people love it but it absolutely puts me to sleep. Back-loading a story as much as this game does is risky, it means the payoff for those who make it through will be huge, but so many people have, and will fall off of this game because the reward for the work just isn’t enough. The amount of traveling Arthur has to do creates so much dead time where the player is doing nothing, especially in the early parts of the game. If the pacing had been more forgiving and Rockstar had played a little more fast and loose with the realisim in the game, it could have been the game that everyone anticipated it being. If the first quarter to a third of the game provides an open world but provides little to do in it, then it isn’t fun. Having a game with a story that lasts for over 100 hours is remarkable, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be told well. Persona 5 manages to do this with their calendar system, it creates more of a feeling on the first play through of anxiety and the thought of ” How am I ever going to do all of this.” Then it sustains this momentum for over 100 hours. After finishing Persona 5 it feels like the game was a well made 5 course meal, it was timed right, served the right proportions, and it all blended well together. Red Dead Redemption II feels more like having some snacks before going out and having a big meal. The payoff comes at a completely different time, and it isn’t as rewarding for some players.
Open world games truly are amazing, Being able to load in maps that are as big as they are now instantly is incredible. But, Red Dead Redemption II struggles to find the balance between having a big world, and filling it with enough to justify the size. Having a smaller map generally is the smarter move. The map should only fit how many missions can fill it. While many developers try to build a bigger map and then fill it with missions which then makes those missions uninspired and repetitive. While Red Dead Redemption II isn’t that bad, it certainly flirts with it. There is just enough to do in the world that makes traveling around the old west fun, but not enough to do that it is rewarding enough in the beginning. For example, God of War’s world unfolded like a blooming flower, expanding and opening as the game progressed, which made traveling one way much less punishing specifically because the map was smaller. Red Dead Redemption throws everything at the player at the start, and while for the players that this game was made for appreciate that, the overall population seemed to have struggled getting acclimated to the game.
In the end, Red Dead Redemption II is a fantastic game that does so many things well, but it just doesn’t do anything better than its contemporaries. Even down to small details like alternating dialogue between an active voice and a relaxed voice was done in Spider-Man. Now that we are almost 6 months out of the release of Red Dead Redemption II, it is safe to say that being forgotten about wasn’t what Rockstar had hoped for. The negatives just barely outweigh the positives and it just didn’t really break the mold. At the end of the day Red Dead Redemption II is a good game, but in all honesty? It’s pretty overrated.
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