John Hillcoat's Red Dead short inspires mixed reaction

Today, Rockstar Games lifted the online embargo onRed Dead Redemption: The Man from Blackwater,a 29-minutemachinima short that aired on TV a little over a week ago. Created by John Hillcoat(better known as director of the films The Road and The Proposition), the short wasmade entirely with in-game graphics, and it gives Hillcoat a chance to bring his director's eye to Red Dead's sweeping vistas and bloody ultraviolence. Theresult is something that gives us a perspective on the game that we'd never get while simply playing it. On the other hand, well... we'd rather be playing it.

Here's the fullvideo; read below for further commentary.

Much as we'd like to get excited about Hillcoat and Red Dead coming together, the central problem with the short is that we've seen a lot of it already. It's essentially a truncated version of the game's first act, with several key cutscenes presented almost in their entirety. And the thing about cutscenes is that, no matter how pretty or well-directed they are, it always feels tedious having to sit through them more than once. Watching them a second time triggers something deep within the gamer heart that just wants to pound the shit out of whatever button skips ahead to the action.

Above: Yes, that's great. Can we please get to the shooting now?

On the other hand, the cutscenes are pretty awesome if you haven't played the game yet(and if you haven't, you should), and some of the events unfold a little differently, so you'll still have some surprises in store when you actually play it. It's also kind of interesting to see the action sequences play outwith nointeractive elements or over-the-shoulder views.

Really, though, what makes the short worth watching are the bits in between the cutscenes, where you'll see extremely pretty shots of the game's desert landscape...

... as well as close-up views of what happens when an outlaw's brain gets splattered by a Gatling gun.

However, watching the short simply isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as just playing the game. And because it doesn't show off anything new or original (to anyone who's already played it, at least), we're left with what's essentially a talenteddirector re-cutting someone else's film out of order. And thatcreates something that feels like the original, but a little off. It's not bad, butit hasan element of been-there-done-that that mars its potential awesomeness -and makes us extremely curiousto see what Hillcoat could do with full access to the voice cast and a new script.

What's your ownreaction to the short? Let us know in the comments below.

Jun 8, 2010

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.