It was pretty upsetting to hear the staff pile onto Red Dead 2 on last weeks Beastcast. To an extent I didn't expect Jeff to enjoy the game, as he's been vocal in the past about not enjoying that style of open world game, but it was pretty frustrating to hear Ben and Dan be so down on it, especially after how positive they were in previous weeks. I haven't paid much attention to the post-release coverage, having been preoccupied with finishing it myself - so this was the first time I'd really heard people turn on the game. I haven't read much else, so I don't know if this is exclusive to the Giant Bomb staff or if this sentiment is being mirrored elsewhere, but it's a shame either way.
I think the most upsetting thing was a lot of the complaints felt petty in the context of a game that is so broad-reaching. I also felt there was an element of exaggeration and misinformation when it came to some of the anecdotal complaints that were leveled at the game. Sure knocking someone down on your horse when you're riding around St Denis will attract the attention of the cops, but to suggest that it instantly launches you into a full-scale firefight to me demonstrates an ignorance of the games systems - frequently I would bump into someone and be "moved along", essentially told to leave the area at my own pace, in full view of the police, with no consequent chase or bounty. Other times I would be caught by the police and told to surrender - doing so would mean a brief cut-scene in the cells and then a quick release back onto the streets to carry on my business without a lengthy chase. Or how about instead of blaming the game for punishing you after you literally trampled a pedestrian to death, you don't ride your warhorse around a crowded city at full speed?
I'm not going to pretend the game is flawless, because it's clearly not - the context sensitive controls are consistently overwhelming and confusing, and I accidentally punched my horse (Sorry Hector!) far too many times to pretend otherwise. The hunting and crafting can be tedious, and too many of the games upgrades are hidden within certain recipes which are simply not economic to complete. There's all kinds of little issues that are going to arise from a game that attempts to do so much - my girlfriend complained that the fishing was tedious, to which I replied it's pretty miraculous that there's such a robust fishing system in that game at all. And I think that's why the recent whining has felt so needling and petty; there are questionable issues of game design which, while valid concerns, shouldn't detract from what is a revolutionary game, both in terms of writing and technical prowess. If you don't like the plot then fine, if you don't like the characters then whatever, but it seems super short-sighted to compile a list of petty grievances and then stack them up against what is otherwise a triumph for the entire medium.
This is probably going to evolve into a bigger discussion with pretentious titles like "should games be fun?" and "are you responsible to recognize and promote innovative experiences even if you don't enjoy them on a personal level?" but i'll put those on my blog, where you're welcome to ignore them :P
Anyway, I thought it was great. As you can probably tell. It's disappointing to me that it's currently being dismissed by the staff, and I hope those discussions don't discourage anyone from experiencing Red Dead 2 themselves.