At this point we get to ride around a bit and take in the beautifully detailed scenery. Vultures swoop in to feast on the rotting corpses of our victims, stage coaches pass by in a plume of dust and we even spot a cougar chasing a deer through a bush. Nice. But it’s not long before we stumble across a sub-mission.
It turns out there are still members of the Walton gang in the area as an icon pops up on the radar to indicate just that (you’ll be able to track down gangs throughout Red Dead Redemption). These a-holes have taken the daughter of a farmer hostage and this just won’t do.
Above: Marston gets busy in the killing fields
John agrees to help the weak farmer and gets to work despatching members of the Walton gang. Rather than pick them off from a distance, which we could’ve done easily, we decided to have a closer look at the close-quarters combat. Plus, we had the privilege of infinite health so why not, eh?
We punch, we barge, we push and we fire our revolver off at close range. And while the sense of impact is good, we still can’t help but feel that Jimmy from Bully (Canis Canem Edit) would kick his and Niko's ass in a fist fight. Minor grizzle aside, we managed to stick a rifle under a gang member’s chin and blast him to death as well as rushing in quickly to shoot a guy in the stomach with our six-shooter.
The final encounter with the Walton gang is inside the house where you find the farmer’s daughter has a gun held to her head by one of the bad guys. There’s supposed to be a tense stand-off here like that bit in RoboCop where the would-be rapist gets shot in the nuts through the victims skirt. Heroically we assessed this situation within milliseconds and unload three shots into his skull before he hits the deck.
Above: John gets ready to burst into the farmhouse and deal out justice
Wiping gangs out won’t incur a Wanted level for John as they’re criminals anyway, and doing them in will also lead to cash, weapons or even treasure maps.
Saving the best ‘til last, the final mission has John working with a stereotypical Irish drunkard called, erm, Irish. By the sounds of things this old soak has crossed John before so he’s none too pleased about working with him. Thankfully, the gamble to work with such a liability means Marston may get his hands on a gatling gun.
It’s located in a mine at Gaptooth Ridge and as you may expect, the gun’s being guarded by some gun totin’ men. We slip behind some cover and take out three guards in a single bout of Dead Eye magic.
As we make our way into the mine shaft we have to work our way down to the bottom – through dimly lit paths crawling with guards that have no doubt heard the ruckus outside. Shooting lanterns here will make them explode and set fire to any poor sap stood close to them. There’s also the obligatory red barrel that naturally blows up enemies should you shoot them.
Above: Red barrel + gunshot = KA-BLAMMMMO!
This mission feels a lot like the first one we played – move from point A to B without dying. But when you find the gatling gun the tempo takes a turn for the awesome.
You see, the gatling gun is in a mine cart and the only way John can get it to the surface is by pushing it back up the way he just came. So now he’s pushing this heavy thing and defending himself with his pistol. Get to a downhill bit and you can hop aboard the mine cart like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom.
Above: "Yeeee-haw, ride 'em, cowboy!"
This is where we needed to be quick on the Dead Eye trigger so as to plug anyone we hurtle towards. There’s even a bit where you have to blow up a box of TNT before the cart careers into it.
It’s excellent stuff and makes us think that there are going to be some very interesting missions in Red Dead Redemption that will keep us entertained throughout.
And with that, our hands-on experience is over. As promised, we’ll have a full run down of the brilliant off-mission stuff you can do in Red Dead Redemption tomorrow (Friday 29th January).