Tag : dutch-van-der-linde

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Is Red Dead Redemption 2 The GOAT? Not Quite

Caution: Does contain some spoilers

The most ambitious Rockstar Studios game of all-time is how Red Dead Redemption 2 was billed in the build up to its October 26th launch and it delivered in that respect.

From the gorgeous scenery, to NPCs that remember your previous actions, to horses’ bollocks that shrink or grow depending on the current climate, the detail in Red Dead Redemption 2 is second to none.

Showing ambition is great, but you need to be able to deliver the end product. I showed ambition in my late teens, chasing leggy blondes with big tits and I got fuck all to show for it. Rockstar did deliver on their promise of a fantastic game, yet I feel that those people calling it the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) have been caught up in the marketing hype that surrounds AAA launches.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Positives

Red Dead Redemption 2

Let’s take a look at some of the many positives surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2. I’ve already mentioned that it is arguably the best-looking game I have seen on the PlayStation 4, rivalling, if not surpassing, the amazing graphics displayed in Horizon Zero Dawn, which is one of my favourite games of all-time.

The level of detail is astounding. One mission saw me visiting a shop that was hiding the dirty secret of being a front for slavers. I had to find a way to enter the basement of this shop to discover where the owners had been keeping the slaves chained to the walls. After the shopkeeper refused to give me any information, I set about him like a pissed Connor McGregor on the night bus home, beating him until he spilled the beans. When I returned to the same shop a few game days later, the owner was weary of me being there, referred to my previous dishing out of cowboy justice and was even sporting a bandage around his head.

The most ambitious Rockstar Studios game of all-time is how Red Dead Redemption 2 was billed in the build up to its October 26th launch and it delivered in that respect.

You’ll also find some genuinely hilarious moments throughout the game thanks to Rockstars’ ability to tell a story like no other. From the eccentric French artist, to the incestual rednecks who will bum you and sling you in a ditch, Rockstar keep the side missions and random encounters fun and a joy to complete.

Two of the Best Ever Video Game Characters

Red Dead Redemption 2

Then there’s the acting of the main characters. Arthur Morgan is a great character who you start to connect with. That’s an issue with many games, you just don’t connect with them so don’t give two fucks if they die a painful death or they conquer their goals and ride off into the sunset. When Arthur gets sick and eventually dies, I was genuinely pissed off because I wanted him to escape the life of an outlaw and make it out there on his own or with his love interest.

Dutch Van der Linde is another superbly portrayed character. Rockstar do an amazing job of portraying Dutch as a charismatic leader whose world starts tumbling down around him, becoming more desperate and unhinged as the story reaches a thrilling climax. It’s rare for me to be so heavily invested in more than one character of a video game, film or book.

You also have to admire the sheer size of the map and the number of things you can do if you wish. There are 178 different species of animal to study, hunt and kill, each going about their own business in the vast setting. Spending time tracking better specimens and skinning them allows you to upgrade Arthur’s satchels and outfits and even allows you to make special trinkets that give you boosts.

Rockstar have set dozens of challenges from being a bandit, to excelling as a gambler (you can play dominoes, blackjack and poker). I reckon it took me a solid 60 hours to complete the story mode and I didn’t even complete half of the challenges or study that many animals.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Negatives

Red Dead Redemption 2

Having to find 178 different animals, including tiny bastard bullfrogs, is a massive chore when the hunting mechanic gets boring after two or three attempts and the fishing is about as interesting as, well, fishing.

So if a game is massive, fun, detailed and has a Hollywood worthy cast of characters, why isn’t it the GOAT? Well, my friend, it is a victim of its own ambition. It’s chasing those elusive leggy blondes with big tits when it should probably have gone for a solid 7/10 instead and got its end away. As great as it is to have all these different tasks at your disposal, they don’t really serve a purpose in-game.

For example, I got through the entire game with no issues at all without the need to upgrade any of Arthur’s outfits or satchels. There wasn’t a single time that I wished I had more space in my inventory, I just didn’t need it.

Another issue regards hunting in that you don’t need to do it to survive. You obtain meat when you kill and skin the ark-filling selection of animals but there’s that much food dotted around the map that I think I only ate something I killed two or three times. Having to find 178 different animals, including tiny bastard bullfrogs, is a massive chore when the hunting mechanic gets boring after two or three attempts and the fishing is about as interesting as, well, fishing.

Which brings me onto the character maintenance aspect of the game. You’re meant to feed Arthur and your horse on a regular basis to keep them in optimal condition; you need to clean your horse regularly too. Problem is, it doesn’t fucking matter if you don’t. Rockstar claims being underweight improves your stamina but reduces the amount of damage you can take, but the game is that easy during combat – I died once in a gunfight in the entire game – that it wouldn’t matter if the enemy were firing foam Nerf bullets at you.

I Don’t Need No Money

Then you have the money in the game. Early doors, you’re as skint as a Big Issue seller and wondering how you are going to afford any ammunition for your revolver. Within a few hours, you’re dripping with cash, have 10 guns at your disposal and don’t need to loot or rob anyone or anything. I think I had just shy of $8,000 before Arthur died and once I’d acquired the pump action shotgun, I didn’t need any other firearm because it was so OP.

While I loved Arthur in the game, I already knew he was going to die at some point because he is never mentioned in the original Red Dead Redemption that this game is a prequel to. Arthur is a strong, worthy lead character, yet I get the feeling he is just another version of John Marston, the original game’s main protagonist.

Why didn’t Rockstar focus the story of this game on Dutch? Show how he formed the Van der Linde Gang. Allow us to experience his world falling apart and showing us what happened to him in the run up to being hunted down by John in Red Dead Redemption? Dutch is such an amazing character that he could have had this entire game to himself. Perhaps that will come in some DLC at a later date?

Don’t get me wrong, the above faults did piss me off a little and some of those negative points have stopped me from trying to earn the Platinum trophy, yet Red Dead Redemption 2 is still a game you simply have to play and is up there with the top five games of this console’s generation. The pacing is off a little with the first four chapters being quite slow before it erupts like acne on a teenagers cheeks for the last two chapters, which are ridiculously good and at a pace 10-times what the previous four were.

Get your hands on a copy of Red Dead Redemption 2 and let yourself get lost in the hype. Just don’t expect to play the GOAT because while the game is superb and amazing value for money, it tries too hard to impress and that sometimes results in it being bucked off its horse and onto the dusty desert floor.