The big games of 2010: Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar's big game of 2010 isn't likely to be a Grand Theft Auto sequel. But it might just be Red Dead Redemption...

6th of 7 games for 2010: Red Dead Redemption

The Game

Rockstar, the creators of Grand Theft Auto, leave Liberty City behind with a sequel to the slightly underwhelming Red Dead Revolver. An open world romp through the dying days of the old west, Red Dead Redemption takes its cues from the revisionist Western, with the American badlands painted as a place of disease, bad teeth and the sort of immorality that would make Nico Belic blush.

Trailers promise horse play, shoot outs and the epic grandeur of a Sergio Leone flick. You play as John Marston, a former outlaw, tasked with bringing law and order to the Wild West in 1908.

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Whereas the original Red Dead was a straightforward shooter which happened to be set in the most eulogised period of American history, Redemption is balls to bones a digital study of the themes and problems that such a setting presents. Trains act as transit across the enormous play area, which offers much more than just ‘desert’. There’ll be mountains, dead end towns and various different terrains for you to play on.

You can expect the same assured, open world gameplay that’s made GTA so popular, with equine mounts replacing cars and natty wide brimmed hats replacing crew cuts. There’ll be hunting, lassoing, sneaking around in brush and everything else you’d expect from a western, but all presented with Rockstar’s gift for scope. Throw in a historically accurate civil war for good measure and this tale of revenge, redemption and the end of an era is the sort of package you’d expect from the master development house.

Why You Should Be Excited

Rockstar is one of a handful of developers who are given time to create, free from the constraints of deadlines; people buy their games, that’s a given, and that commercial viability allows Rockstar the sort of creative freedom that most can only dream about. It’s been four years since a Red Dead revival was first mooted, and you can bet that in that time Rockstar has been building a game that’s every bit as impressive as GTA4.

The western is an under represented genre when it comes to videogames, the few attempts there have been have all been enjoyable, but none of them reached the dizzy heights of some of their cinematic brethren. Red Dead Redemption could be the game that bucks that trend. It clearly owes a great debt to the work of Leone, Peckinpah and Eastwood, with its mix of sweeping vistas and craggy faced, embittered men. At the same time, though, it wouldn’t be a Rockstar game without a wry sense of humour, and a knowing nod to popular and gaming culture.

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Red Dead Redemption is the sort of game that will sweep the boards at the end of year game shows, the sort of game that makes people in the ‘mainstream’ sit up and take notice, and for the right reasons. Rockstar is capable of stretching the notion of videogaming further than most, and has the ability to handle a setting as vast and iconic as the Wild West. All signs are pointing to Red Dead being the sort of shot in the arm for westerns that Gears Of War was for space marines and chest high walls.

Red Dead Redemption is out on the 27th April for Xbox 360 and PS3.