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Why Critics Love “Read Dead Redemption 2”

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Why Critics Love “Read Dead Redemption 2”

Nicholas Biglin, Staff Writer

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The original Red Dead Redemption video game, released in 2010, was met with critical acclaim, garnering a 95/100 on Metacritic, a review aggregator. Its brand-new prequel and successor, Red Dead Redemption 2 was just released on October 26, 2018, and has since been met with even greater praise, with perfect scores from multiple gaming sites. The following article explores what it is about the game that critics love so much.

The developer of the game, Rockstar, is known primarily for the Grand Theft Auto series, and is notorious for spending a great deal of time meticulously crafting a video game concept known as the “open world”; in this game, as the name quite literally states, the world is an open sandbox for the player to explore and do whatever they choose to do. Many critics have stated that this elevates the open-world concept to a new level, similar to last year’s Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Red Dead Redemption 2 follows a gang member named Arthur Morgan through the late-19th-century Wild West. That synopsis may seem vague, but that’s part of the point. In RDR2, the player controls the story; they have the power to decide who Arthur Morgan is, and how he lives his life.

This is one of the primary aspects of the game that critics admire. The game contains an intricate honor system that has consequences for the player’s actions. Go on a murderous rampage while drunk? You’re going to have a bounty on your head, but go ahead. On the other hand, if you help someone about to be mauled by a bear, they might recognize you when you step into their shop later, and give you a discount on products.

These are the sorts of things that make the game so incredible, and can be summed up in a single word: immersion. The world sucks you in the moment it starts, and you stay there until you decide it’s time to return to the real world. Everything has been so meticulously crafted and refined that it feels like a world that’s truly lived in.

The consistent emphasis on realism also contributes to the immersion. The player must bond with the horses to prevent them from bolting. If you want coffee when you wake up in Red Dead Redemption 2, you have to manually do everything yourself; it doesn’t just appear for you, as it might in other games.

Another large part of the immersion has to do with nature. Nature plays a big part in Red Dead Redemption 2, as it’s the Wild West and nature has not yet been “tamed.” In Red Dead Redemption 2, the natural environment is more realistic than ever. Hunting has been changed so that you’ll get a cleaner kill with a bow as opposed to a gun, and animals now act more realistically.

Rockstar recorded a large library of nature sounds to improve the atmosphere, and according to reviewers, it works. You truly feel like you are in the world.

As must be the case with any successful video game, there is more to it than just immersion. One thing the original was known for was its music, and although the sequel doesn’t necessarily surpass the first Red Dead Redemption in that regard, it is no less incredible.

The same goes for the voice acting. Owing to the incredible freedom given to the player, it is difficult to craft a story around the characters in open-world games. And yet, Red Dead Redemption 2 manages to succeed in that regard. It to tell the story of how the Dutch Van der Linde gang falls apart, and how John Marston, the first game’s protagonist, becomes the grizzled older man hunting down the members of his old gang to put them to justice.

Although Red Dead Redemption 2 is a master class of game design, there are some aspects which critics dislike. Some say that it can be slow at times, and the mundane tasks like making your own coffee can seem chore-like. Other reviews talk about how the lasting consequences can considerably affect the entirety of the rest of your gaming experience in ways that aren’t always good, such as blocking off certain missions because of something you did wrong. Still others state that it is not enjoyable in the traditional sense of a video game. However, there is a good reason for this; Read Dead Redemption 2 is more a work of art than a traditional video game.

Despite these flaws, Red Dead Redemption 2 is still amazing, snagging the spot for the highest rated game on Metacritic for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Many are calling it one of the greatest games ever made, and a true work of art. It is a certain Game of the Year contender for 2018, and I would highly recommend the game to those with a compatible Xbox One or PlayStation 4 console.

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Nicholas Biglin, Staff Writer

Nick Biglin '22 is a staff writer focusing on the Arts & Entertainment section. He is, in his words, "an über nerd who enjoys all things nerdy."

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Why Critics Love “Read Dead Redemption 2”