After long five years Rockstar Games now finally launches its first original title for the current generation of consoles, says a lot about the company, Rockstar competes against itself, trying to improve with each new sandbox, a challenge that began back in 2001 with the historic Grand Theft Auto III.
Now, almost two decades after creating one of the genre’s star, they finally launched the highly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2 , one of the most ambitious and spectacular games of all time , an epic adventure that shows us how far video games can go with enough development time and a huge economic and human resources.
And the best that can be said about Red Dead Redemption 2 that every moment has a soul, with an exciting story and endearing characters, where the narrative is always the most important. This, together with the spectacular audiovisual setting, the enormous playable possibilities and the exceptional production values, make you immerse in an open-world adventure.
A game in which every detail, every content, is careful to the inches, so you enjoy from the most mundane actions, like having a coffee in the morning while you say good morning to your camping partners, fishing in a beautiful river or You play a game of poker with some countrymen, up to the most epic moments, like robbing a bank, chasing a train or live some of the most spectacular shootings we have ever seen.
Without the surprise factor of the first RDR that surprised everyone in 2010, even those who did not sympathize with this popular film genre, this sequel bets for being much bigger and more ambitious , with a main plot that lasts more than 40 hours , and tons of side quests, activities, mini-games, collectables and little stories to be lost in its dazzling world over a hundred hours .
Without trying to revolutionize the genre or be too innovative , “simply” to do things better than anyone ever has done in an open world game , shows how few can give this medium, the ability it has to move to a vast, complex and beautiful universe and become the protagonist of the most epic western of all time, one that not even the biggest fan of the genre could ever dare to imagine.
For these and many other reasons, Red Dead Redemption 2 seems an unforgettable adventure, and a new benchmark in terms of ambition and quality, which will be a reference for all the upcoming triple-A titles we will be getting in the coming years.
Although in recent years we have expected technological and graphical evolution, with increasingly beautiful and detailed worlds or characters with better animations and modelling, but more important if possible, the quality is in the scripts and narrative, where Red Dead Redemption 2 is a great example. RDR2 without a doubt the best written Rockstar adventure, with the most interesting, complex and best-developed characters in any of his adventures, Rockstar games’ most mature work.
The story takes place in 1899, about twelve years before the events of Red Dead Redemption, and is starring the band of outlaws of Dutch Van der Linde, which belongs to John Marston, the protagonist of the previous game, who gives his witness to Arthur Morgan, the new character we control this time.
After a bank robbery that ends up as the Rosary of the Aurora, the band is forced to flee into the interior of America, with many federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the country on their heels. Thus, we live a constant flight forward in which Dutch and its faithful followers are increasingly cornered, continue to make things worse and commit more crimes to survive, and begin to emerge all kinds of internal tensions that make the situation every day. more unbearable time
Recurrent themes of the western such as loyalty, honour or freedom are always present, as well as the unstoppable progress and all its consequences, which happens to them like a truck over the protagonists, who know that their days of outlaws are numbered. And of course, there is also talk of redemption, in a story arc that leaves an excellent taste, very exciting. It is so well written that you end up taking a lot of affection – and hating – the members of the band, with whom you always want to interact and know more in-depth, with conversations that arise in a surprisingly natural way, something that we have never seen so well done in a game of this style.
Whether through the interesting diary of the protagonist in which he writes his reflections on what is happening, newspapers that we can buy or conversations that we furtively listen to anywhere, we constantly verify that the narrative structure of the adventure is portentous, and we do not get tired of it. to know more and more information of the world and of the people that inhabit it, where, as is usual in Rockstar games, there is room for humour, drama or social criticism, and as it could not be absent in a western, its good dose of epic.
We could spend hours talking about the narrative, because we loved it, but we want to place special emphasis on the protagonist, Arthur Morgan, who not only has it seemed more interesting, charismatic and better built than John Marston, is that we do not tremble pulse to say that we think one of the best characters in the history of video games.
That both the characters and the story are so well constructed, partly because of the time they take for it, how long the main plot is, as we said before more than 40 hours. This has its advantages and disadvantages; On the one hand nothing is told in a hasty or abrupt manner, all the characters have a great story arc, very coherent and with their doses of protagonism, but it has its bad things, like some almost inevitable ups and downs in such a long story, especially in a part of the end, which we can not explain for obvious reasons.
In any case, there are many occasions in which Red Dead Redemption 2 touches the sky , both in several action scenes of the most epic and spectacular that we have seen in any game , which will remain for the memory, as other moments not so vibrant but more emotional , such as certain conversations or simple acts such as singing a song with the members of the band around a bonfire, celebrating that one day they are still alive and in freedom.
To give you an idea of its magnitude, we are talking about more than 100 missions only in the main story, and all very careful and with outstanding production values, at Uncharted levels, so that you can get an idea. And most surprising is that almost all are varied and different from each other, and only about four or five have seemed loose, which has much merit.
As it happened in GTA V, the line between the main and the secondary practically vanishes, it does not matter what you do that everything is very careful, each content has a lot of quality, and you never know where you are going to find a new adventure or interesting character, It is a real pleasure to explore its beautiful scenery.
A world full of possibilities
But Red Dead Redemption 2 does not live only on its history and its missions, and the fact of exploring its huge and exciting world is an adventure in itself, with an enormous fauna composed of more than 200 animals that we can hunt -and that can hunt-, with a lot of strange people with whom we can live the most unusual moments, curious and even emotional, with all kinds of random events, in which to help people or in which rival gangs can ambush us, and all kinds of mini-games, such as poker or dominoes, or visit theatre shows.
We can work as a bounty hunter looking for criminals, dedicate ourselves to hold robberies, rob banks, trains and stagecoaches, attack lairs of rival gangs, find all kinds of collectables, fish, collect plants and prepare recipes, hunt legendary animals, go shopping , change clothes, hair and beard -the best at any game-, have a few drinks, complete a series of action and hunting challenges and, ultimately, have fun with tons of content, all very careful , and they allow us to play as we please.
Our relationship and interaction with everything that surrounds us is much more worked than ever in a Rockstar game, and we can approach any character and greet or provoke him, as well as intimidate him with our weapons. We never know how an NPC will react, each one has its own personality, something that is also influenced by the honour system, which allows us to be a good-hearted outlaw or an authentic villain, something that is defined throughout the crowd of small decisions throughout the adventure. These do not change the strong main story, but they do influence the perception that the world has of our character.
They have also added small survival elements, very light and not slow down the pace, such as having to feed or rest to have health and resistance ready or have to dress appropriately in each area of the map, as well as take care of our horse as much or more as ourselves. There are many small details and systems like these, that do not have a great weight in the development, but that all together help that feeling of realism, of being in a living world and with real characters, which encourages you to behave in a way reasonable, getting into the role of outlaw or cowboy.
Nature is another protagonist, most of the map is spectacular scenarios that you never get tired of, and there is a wide fauna and flora with which we can interact, being, like many other parts of the adventure, something very present but also optional. You can focus totally on the story and not just dedicate yourself to hunting, obtaining money and resources through all kinds of robberies and crimes.
We have loved the representation of nature, with all its beauty but also its harshness. It’s amazing when you leave a deer badly wounded and it dies on the ground, with moans that will bother many players, until you kill him definitively, or the realism with which you skin the different animals. In other games the killing of animals is trivialized, they are nothing more than mere resources, and here they show you with all the realism what that supposes, something that we think is very positive.
This applies to other aspects of the adventure, violence is always very present, with situations and images that may even be unpleasant, but not in a festive and trivial way as in the GTA series, but rather in a realistic way and raw , as life itself must have been in 1899, in the Wild West.
The action scenes of Red Dead Redemption 2 have reminded us of the latest Rockstar games, as if it took a little bit of each one, although the most positive reference is that of Max Payne 3, which has reminded us a lot. Some very funny and wild shootings, for the forcefulness of the weapons, many and very varied, and violence and even gore, and of course the excellent physics and animations of the enemies.
There are many, many shootings, it is a game with tons of action, but at the same time, it is quite affordable. As we said at the beginning, the narrative is the main protagonist, they want the game to flow and what they pose playfully is never a great challenge, something that can disappoint the most experienced players looking for a challenge, something they already complained about GTA V.
To complicate the existence we can reduce or deactivate the aids to point, something that changes things quite, having a very customizable gameplay, both in the controls and in the screen interface. The shootings add some salt and pepper to the Dead Eye, that special ability that allows us to slow down time and perform spectacular shots of precision, something that they do not allow us to abuse either, and that adds a lot of spectacularity to the combats.
They also offer us the possibility of repeating the missions of history and fulfill a series of objectives , such as finishing certain scenes in a time limit, having a high percentage of correct answers or not using objects to heal us, and depending on the number of these objectives that we fulfill we will obtain a bronze, silver or gold medal. A challenge mode that is undoubtedly designed for the most expert players, who will still continue to miss a higher difficulty mode.
An Audiovisual Masterpiece
How could it be otherwise in an overproduction like this, the graphics are a real pass, possibly the game that has surprised us most visually in the current generation of consoles , and not by specific aspects such as textures or modeling, but rather because of the rotundity of the whole, the harmony with which the technical and artistic side meet to create visually stunning moments .
The superb direction of art together with the sophisticated lighting create simply overwhelming images of strength and beauty that are unparalleled, our jaw has been dislocated several times. On more than one occasion we have stopped to think that if when we started playing, whether it was in the 80s, 90s or even the first years 2000, we would have been told that we would end up watching games like this, it would have been hard to believe, it is amazing.
The highlight, among many other aspects, the life-like work of animations, both for its quality and its variety, in the words of Rockstar more than 300,000 unique animations, something that we believe fully after having played it, which is also accompanied by a large physical work.
Not everything is perfect, and the only aspect a little loose we have seen in the graphics are the faces of the characters, both their detail and expressiveness, which is not that they are bad, but they are not up to the best. It is true that you can not demand the same to an open world game as big as this one to a linear one, but it is that in the other aspects Red Dead Redemption 2 yes it surpasses visually any other title currently on the market.
We have analyzed the version of PS4 Pro, which goes to 30fps completely stable and without any graphical defect, being very solid technically and visually impeccable, with a great use of HDR if you have a good TV.
We have also tested it on the original PS4, and despite offering a lower resolution and having some defects, such as sometimes a bit of popping or long load times for textures, the result is frankly surprising, with a completely stable framerate and a visual finish that is not too far from PS4 Pro offers. It is admirable that a hardware with almost five years and that did not come at an exorbitant price can move without problems a visual portent like this.
Moving to the soundtrack, but it is that it has seemed to us one of the best we have ever heard, almost 200 original pieces composed by Woody Jackson, habitual of Rockstar in the last decade that already worked in the first Red Dead Redemption, and that has collected here all the styles that have been made and for having of the western, being an authentic delight the quantity and variety of compositions , with each mission with its own musical theme.
The role of sound and music is very important during the game, being able to raise very high the majority of action scenes, adding an inexplicable epic with words, you have to live it. The great visual ambience along with the excellent soundtrack and the story context of some missions create unforgettable moments, a true “martial arts dream” for any lover of the western, which can leave you with some tears of pure emotion. And as is usual in Rockstar, dialogues with over 1000 different actors and some great performances.
A few weeks after PS4 and Xbox One celebrate their fifth anniversary, Rockstar’s first original title comes to them, which has seemed to us to be the best game of the generation. An action adventure in the open world overwhelming for its graphics and playable possibilities, but we will remember for its endearing characters and the epic and exciting story we have lived with them.
It does not innovate in practically any aspect, nor does it want to revolutionize the genre, it is simply Rockstar trying the hardest yet, once again surpassing itself, offering us the most ambitious game of all time. One that deserves to be lived by any lover of this art and entertainment, which shows us, once again, that the bar has been raised once again, we cannot thank enough to Rockstar and cherish RDR2 on several occasions.
We have done this review with a download code for the PS4 PRO version of the title provided by Rockstar Games.