Red Dead Redemption: Making The Classic Western Genre Accessible


Having played through most of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption I think that it is safe to say that the game itself is nothing short of spectacular. This comes as no surprise considering the fact that Rockstar has set the standard over the years for open world storytelling, but for important than the game itself is the atmosphere the world that the player must navigate and interact with.

Throughout my time with the game I found myself blown away by the meticulous detail of the game world. I often had to stop my horse to look around and enjoy the view. I have played a lot of open world games in my time but none of them have ever caused me to stop dead in my tracks to enjoy the scenery. The environment is beautiful and at times, it seems like Rockstar was trying to capture the classic slow, panning, long shot of a classic western. I have to say that they have indeed succeeded in this regard. With a completely open environment, Red Dead Redemption feels like the old west in the respect that anything can happen and the main character John Marston can go anywhere and do just about anything.

Never have I experienced such a rich environment has I have in red Dead Redemption. The world itself, lives and breathes along with the player. There are animals to shoot and skin, missions to take on and bounties to be collected. The preceding examples only name a few of activities that the Red Dead Redemption has to offer. It seemed that I was perfectly content riding my trusty steed and hunting the dozens of different wild animals in the game world for hours. This really drove home the feeling of the old west for me. It is that “I choose where I go and what I do mentality” I felt like a true cowboy as I rode through parries and deserts sometimes shooting animals (or people) on a whim, like a real wild west drifter.. Games have offered the potential for freedom like this ( Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Fable) but few have done it nearly as well. A Free Roaming western simply makes sense because that’s what cowboys did, they drifted. Not only does Red Dead Redemption allow for a spectacular atmosphere and western drifting mentality but it allows the player to feel like a top notch, old west,  gunslinger.

The gunplay in Red Dead Redemption just feels right. The controls are quick and responsive and they allow for quick and precise shots, just like the expert marksmanship of the main characters in classic westerns. The standard gunplay itself is good but it is the dead eye mechanic that makes the player feel like a crack shot. The first time you get to mark six headshots and then watch John Marston make them all while firing from the hip is truly a remarkable experience. Needles to say, if Sam Fisher and John Marston were to engage in a pistol duel it would be a close match. That bring said, Rockstar nailed the gun slinging in Red Dead Redemption and gun slinging is one of the most important culture highlights of the Wild West. Everything that is true for the single player game mode also carried over to the multiplayer, online mode. In some cases the multiplayer option adds to the Old West feel of the game.

The Multiplayer in Red Dead Redemption is very similar to that of GTA IV, players are first thrown into a free roam lobby and are left to their own. This unstructured free roam lends itself very well to the Western Genre, as the Old West was free to roam. However, the Old West was also unforgiving case and point, so are other players in free roaming online games. If a player is not careful they may find themselves shot as they are hunting wild animals or raiding gang settlements. I would imagine that the nomadic lifestyle of the Old West was not too far off from these scenarios. The free nature of the multiplayer mode itself adds to western atmosphere of the game.

In conclusion, I believe that Red Dead Redemption has done a fantastic job of    creating widespread interest in the western genre among the gaming audience. Others have tried (Gun, Red Dead Revolver) with little success in capture the open and free world that was the American Wild West. It dies so with its good use of environmental details, plethora of activates, and wild west game play. I have heard gamers in free roam lobbies talking about how they have watched western films for the first time after player Red Dead Redemption and cannot get enough of them. Perhaps more games can strive to create this type of atmosphere and to create interested in their subject matter as Red Dead Redemption did. I look forward to the future after this precedent has been set.  Needless to say, I won’t grow tired of Red Dead Redemption anytime soon.