Tag : red-dead-redemption-2

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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.

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Setting Goals for 2019

It is important to set yourself some goals and targets regardless of what walk of life you’re from as they give you something to aim or aspire to. New Year is the obvious time, the cliched time, to set goals because you have a clean slate and a full 12-months ahead of you.

First, sorry to my entire readership base of three for not updating this little corner of the internet since Nov. 17. You can blame the lack of content on the fact I’ve been balls deep in Red Dead Redemption 2 on the PS4. The game is nothing short of fantastic. I’m almost done with the story mode, so will be writing a review at some point next week all being well.

As for my goals for 2019, you’ll realise several of them are interlinked; completing one will likely achieve another. Without further ado, let’s look at what lies in store for 2019.

Stopping Smoking

Stopping smoking

This is the number one on my list and I won’t care one iota if I fail to hit the rest of my goals if I manage to achieve this. I’ve stopped smoking a handful of times before falling off the wagon and starting again.

There’s a history of cancer and dodgy hearts in my family so me smoking is even more stupid than it would be for anyone else. You also have to take into consideration the financial cost of smoking. The brand we smoke is around £8.60 a packet, which is fucking criminal, and I’ve loosely worked out I’m currently spending approximately £400 a month on cancer sticks. That’s £4,800 a year. £4,800 a year that could be spent on a family holiday or wiping a credit card, anything other than destroying my lungs.

The plan is to go cold turkey. I used an e-cig the last time I stopped, but it’s not going to be too long before we get told by the experts that these are just as bad for you as cigs. Putting anything other than air into your lungs is a bad idea if you think about it.

To help keep me on the straight and narrow, I’m going to transfer money daily to a savings account, meaning I can see the savings I’ve made. We can then use the money how we see fit every few months or so.

Improve My Fitness / Lose Weight

Another goal is to improve my fitness and lose some timber, which goes hand in hand with stopping smoking. I started 2018 by jogging regularly and was starting to get into it. Then I pulled my right calf muscle and took six weeks for it to stop hurting. By this time, I’d given up on jogging and essentially sat on my arse for the rest of the year.

I’m not getting any younger and have already done a shit ton of damage to my body so vastly improving my fitness and losing some weight/ body fat to give myself a fighting chance later in life seems like a good idea.

I’ve already drastically cut down on the amount of alcohol I drink and that should make this goal easier. I’d need to weigh myself on New Year’s Day and somehow measure my body fat percentage at the same time before setting a concrete target.

Take More Care of Myself

Again, this is loosely connected to the improving my fitness and losing weight. I’ve never been one for following fashion trends but I do sometimes see clothes I like but then never buy them because they won’t look right on me.

Also, working from home means that you don’t have to take as good care of your appearance as you would if you had to work in an office o rhad a customer facing job. This means tend to only shave when my growth makes me want to scratch my face off, and I only shave my hair when it’s got to the stage that it looks like I have a dandelion clock on my head; that’s an exaggeration but you catch my drift.

These couple of things are connected to my mental wellbeing, too. Despite being an opinionated twat, I actually have quite low self-esteem and confidence and the opinion of myself is rather low. I still have spells where the black dog pays a visit, and this exacerbates the above. Making a conscious effort to improve all areas of my life, especially myself, should see a happier, less anxious and paranoid 2019!

Read at Least 12 Books

Must read more books!

Reading is one of those things that is easy to fall out of the habit of doing. While I find it hard to put a book down once I have started it, it does take a while to get used to reading again. My concentration levels seem to drop when I try reading. I think the main reason for this is the fact I skim and scan hundreds of articles and websites each week rather than reading them properly. When I then come to read an actual book, I find myself skimming and scanning, missing chunks of the story and not getting into it properly.

Twelve books in a calendar year should be easily achievable as it’s only one a month. Substituting browsing the news websites and the like for a chapter of a book should make achieving this target a piece of piss.

Write at Least 50 Blog Posts

Again, this should be easy as it is an average of slightly less than once per week. If I managed to read 12 books, that is 12 entries right there, plus if I start playing poker regularly, I’m sure I’ll fill this blog with bad beat stories!

Get Back Playing Poker Regularly

Playing online poker at partypoker

There was a time when my entire life revolved around playing poker or improving at poker. I’d play online or sometimes visit my local casino for a small donkament or cash game. Large portions of my time were spent reading books, forums and watching videos about poker.

Playing poker and being so invested in this game led me to working in the poker industry, which in turn stopped me playing poker. I often use the excuse that writing about poker for 10 hour a day means I don’t want to play poker when I down tools at the end of the day.

While this is true, there’s also a fear factor to consider. Thinking about it, I’m a little scared that I won’t be able to win anymore. The game has progressed so much and I’ve not kept up with the latest trends and strategies. Being unable to beat the game would piss me off, even though I was never a big winner by any stretch of the imagination. Not to mention it doesn’t look good for a someone in my position to be a complete fish at poker!

Perhaps I’ll stick a small amount online, probably at partypoker, and see if I can grind that up playing nano-stakes cash games. We shall see.

Make £5,000 From Non-Work Activity

This goal could be linked to the above if I do eventually jump back into poker, but it may also spur me on to start at least one of the two websites that I bought the domains for around this time last year!

I purchased one domain that is going to be a gambling portal with things like sports betting, casino and poker site reviews. I’ll feature strategy for these markets, news too, maybe even transfer gossip and esports.

Most of the content in these markets is factual and quite dry. My plan, if I ever get the bastard off the ground, is to make them a little tongue-in-cheek and maybe even mildly offensive. Think Paddy Power and not The Guardian! Stick a few affiliate links in, fish read my shit, sign up to sites and viola: extra wonga.

The second domain is more fun but could lead to someadvertising revenue. It’s not a new idea, but I want to write a pisstake newspaper for Yorkshire folk. An old mate of mine, Simon Young, has a brilliantsite called the Suffolk Gazette that I love reading. I’d love to do something similar so look out for the Yorkshire Tribune coming to a screen near you soon, hopefully!

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Blogtober Never Really Happened

My plan of penning 25 blog entries during the month of October, known affectionately as Blogtober, fell flat on its arse with me only managing a paltry six posts.

Blogtober started well, dipped in the middle and the less said about the end the better. Three posts in the first four days of October stood me in good stead to achieve my goal, but only three more across the rest of the month saw my fail spectacularly.

Work kind of got in the way on more than one occasion, although that’s not a good excuse because work will, hopefully, always be there. Then there was some private family stuff that I’m not prepared to go into right now, but it took up a solid week and left me a little unmotivated to do anything at all if I am honest.

Shock, horror! Video games get in the way

Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect Andromeda

Just as I was about to jump back in the hotseat and attempt to make up for lost time, I found myself motivated more to piss about on the PlayStation 4. I managed to complete the Far Cry 4 campaign, a game I started four years ago when I first bought my trusty PS4 and decided to install Mass Effect: Andromeda.

The Mass Effect series of games are up there with my favourite video games of all time. I bought the original Mass Effect for the Xbox 360 probably around 10 years ago when I found it in the bargain bin of GAME for a few quid. It was a game I instantly fell in love with and spent an age completing.

Mass Effect 2 released in January 2010 and is to this day one of the all-time classics; it is a masterpiece. Again, I spent upwards of 30 hours exploring various galaxies and being immersed in a wonderful story that I didn’t want to end.

BioWare released Mass Effect 3 in March 2012 and it was one of the few games that I didn’t mind paying full price for; I usually wait for the price to come down unless the game looks set to become a classic. The game itself was decent, although the ending was total dogshit especially when you consider fans of the series had put in more than 100-120 hours into the Mass Effect trilogy. I won’t post spoilers, but it was bitterly disappointing, so much so that the developers had to release new endings after a backlash from the nerdiest of fans.

I wasn’t holding out too much hope for Mass Effect: Andromeda because various reviews of the game said it felt rushed, unfinished and had more than its fair share of bugs, some of them game-breaking in how bad they were.

Thankfully, with me waiting forever to get around to playing this game, several patches had been deployed and most of the bugs squashed. I probably logged 10 hours in the game, which could have been 10 or more blog entries, I know, before some kind-hearted person bought me the Red Dead Redemption 2.

I’ll probably write a separate entry about Red Dead Redemption 2 because I am nowhere near finished with it despite piling 20 or more hours into it so far. Yes, I am almost 38-years-old investing time into video games, but it’s so damned addictive.

Two poker freerolls

Plans to jump back into the poker world also took a back seat, as I am sure you have already figured out. No Monster Series tournaments were played at partypoker, not even one. I did find the time to play in another £1,000 freeroll at Grosvenor Poker and a £3,000 freeroll too.

The £1,000 freeroll saw me fail to get above starting stack at any stage. By the time the blinds had increased to 125/250/25a, I was armed with a 4,447 stack, or slightly more than 17 big blind. One guy min-raised from middle position and both the button and small blind called. I opted to jam all-in with 9h9s only to see the original raise re-shove plus the other two players call off their stacks!

A board reading 8dJc2hQcAd didn’t look too good for my lowly pocket nines, so it was not surprising when I busted in 41st place with 18 spots paid. The original raise has AcAh, the button had 8c7c and the small blind QhJh meaning I got my chips in with less than 15 percent equity. Nice one, Pud.

Cowboys shot down

Pocket kings

Pocket kings

Things went a little better in the £3,000 freeroll even though I failed to cash. I managed to hover around the average stack before a short spell of being card dead and not being in the right spots to steal or re-steal reduced my stack somewhat.

Again, it was the 125/250/25a level that saw me come unstuck and I was in the big blind for this hand like my exit hand in the £1,000 game. A player jammed all-in for 3,075 from the hijack and I had a simple call to make in the big blind with KsKh. Villain showed Ac9d so I am a decent favourite to almost double my stack and make a run towards the money; I think a min-cash was like £80 so not too shabby.

My kings stayed ahead on the TsQs4c flop and the Th turn only to be cracked by the motherfucking Ad on the river. This left me with 1,458 chips and they went into the middle when the action folded to me in the small blind. My jam with Jd9c was snapped off by the big blind’s KdKh and I busted despite flopping a nine, meh.

I quite enjoyed playing on Grosvenor Poker so I may see if I can somehow spin up the massive £15 bankroll I have on there from the first £1,000 freeroll. The only thing that pisses me off with the site is how some split pots result in you have fractions of chips. I’ve just seen a tournament taking place now where the chip leader had 10,762.54 chips. I mean, how the fuck can that happen?

Needless to say, I’m going to attempt to post more frequently and play more poker between now and the end of the year, that is if I can tear myself away from being a cowboy / outlaw whenever I get a little bit of downtime from work!