We’ve been desperate to get to grips with Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption since the first time we watched John Marston ride into town. And finally, we’ve been handed the reins to give this superb looking cowboy game a go.
We were given a demo of one mission by Rockstar but were handed the pad to try out two others. There was also time for us to do a heck of a lot of off-mission stuff too, which we’ll bring you in part 2 of this preview tomorrow. So without further ado lets get you up to speed on Red Dead Redemption…
This was the one we weren’t allowed to touch. The action sees John Marston working with the Mexican Army, specifically a man by the name of De Santa – the right-hand man of Colonel Allende.
Joining their ranks sees John storming a rebel stronghold on the top of a mountain. This involves killing lots of men.
Above: The wily AI are pretty good at finding cover
As the mission progresses, the sense of scale in Red Dead Redemption comes to the fore. The compound seems to be miles away in the distance – sticking out of the red dusty cliffs like a sore thumb. But there’s zero pop-up as John makes his way towards it with his band of gringos.
The mission is nothing new really. Diving from cover to cover while dodging bullets will be familiar to anyone that’s played GTAIV, but it’s the glorious setting that sets it apart from anything else you’ve seen.
Being flanked by snipers from the cliffs of a canyon is lifted straight out of classic Western films and make John seem like a real bad-ass as he fires back with sniper shots himself. Watching the enemies realistically slide down the mountain with the brilliant RAGE physics is also morbidly entertaining.
Above: Marston disarms his enemy - cowboy style
The push from John and the Mexican army rises from the dusty flatlands, through a gorge and up to a climatic gun fight to the death just outside the doors of the complex. With the last foe dispatched via the slow motion targetting (read: Dead Eye mode) it’s time for our go…
Our first mission puts us on the trail of one of John’s former gang members, Bill Williamson. To find his former buddy John speaks to Sheriff Johnson of Amarillo and as these things usually pan out, the sheriff wants a favour before giving him information on Bill’s whereabouts.
Above: This snarling bloke is Sheriff Johnson
We follow the sheriff across town as he tells us about our mark – a criminal called Walton who may have information on Bill Williamson. Sadly, said target has the power of sight and makes a bolt for it on horseback as John closes in. We hit Y to whistle our horse – a thing you can do when ever you need a steed – and we’re off across a dusty trail. The best part about riding with an AI character is that if you hold A you’ll keep pace with them at all times.
Obviously, the desperate culprit legs it back to the Walton gang’s HQ – which is just what Sheriff Johnson wanted. It’s time to dismount and get busy with the guns now.
Above: The hunt for the Walton gang begins
The first thing we noticed as we skidded behind cover and fired blindly at the cocky gang members is that it all feels very familiar. GTAIV familiar. Of course it shares some similarities with Rockstar’s other big game but John moves a lot like Niko. From the way he tilts as he runs and changes direction, to the way he sticks to cover, it’s all very samey. But in a good way.
The main difference is in the gunplay – or specifically the Dead Eye modes, which you can see in the previous video. We use the slow-mo ability to cruelly line-up headshots before stalking our main target, Walton himself, who’s ran off and is now taking refuge behind a big rock.
There’s something sadistically satisfying in wounding an enemy rather than murder him straightaway and as we need this guy alive we aim carefully at the guy’s knee-cap, squeeze the trigger of our six-shooter and he’s down, writhing in agony.
We then get to hog-tie Walton before Sheriff Johnson rides off with the captured convict on the back of the horse. Mission accomplished.