By Geekcore 14 Comments
So I bought Red Dead Redemption last Tuesday, and it's been an engrossing experience. My wife has been annoyed with the late night shootouts in Pikes Basin, my students have been jealous of my achievement whoring (me and a few students have an ongoing achievement contest), and I've--well--I've been lulled into John Marston's world, and I'm just waking from this week-long slumber.
But now that the single player campaign is over and I've hung my poncho on the coat rack, I've been thinking about the ending of the game (no spoilers I promise). I've come to the conclusion that the final "boss" encounter was very appropriate. It seems that many games--Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock come to mind--have final bosses that don't fit the ebb and flow of the game. While I love both Mass Effect 2 and Bioshock, the final bosses felt like they were trying to match what consumers want from a final encounter. Apparently, we all want big bosses and epic encounters even if they don't sensibly fit into the story. These types of encounters seem to be disconnected with the process that built to the end of the game.
Luckily, Red Dead Redemption doesn't fall into that trap. The end encounter (it doesn't really have a singular boss per se) matches the game's sense of climax. And that is where Red Dead Redemption hits all the right note--its gives the player great highs and good lows. Red Dead Redemption gives the player a chance to sit back and let things sink in. I was never given that false sense of "hurry or the world will end" that many games resort to. The worst part of that scenario is that it's almost always a lie. Normally, I see these moments and decide that I'm going to finish up all my sidequests before beating the game. Red Dead Redemption doesn't have to do this because, like a good essay or movie, you have an idea that the end is looming, you feel it coming. And while you don't want it to end, you know it has to.