Actually, this game is great for city slickers and range riders alike. But still! The co-op missions come out tomorrow, so I thought it high time I weigh in on the game that made rdr cougar an internet meme.
I feel that I am more qualified than my counterparts Elrood and Tophat to discuss this game because I actually played Gun three years ago. Nobody else knows what that game was, but believe me when I say it shared a lot of similarities with RDR. I’m a big fan of sandbox games and running around on a horse brandishing a six-shooter is ridiculously appealing to me. That being said, buying RDR had not occurred to me until the Monday before launch. Elrood, Tophat and I were playing a little MW2 or Borderlands that night, I forget which, when a mutual friend joined our party exploding with excitement about the midnight release of RDR. The buzzword for the evening quickly became posse and in no time I was making plans to drive to Best Buy the next day. As I went to bed with thoughts of train robberies duels with my friends galloping through my head, the planets were aligning to ensure my disappointment.
The single player in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series is something I have been addicted to since I started running around Liberty City like a mad man blowing up everything I possibly could at a friend’s house. I expected no less fun from RDR. What I got was an amazing combination Oregon Trail, an online casino, oh, and a storyline that’s like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly with more dialog.
If you’re old enough to remember the days of trekking west on an Apple IIe you may find it amusing that my classmates and I spent the majority of our time hunting in Oregon Trail. So much hunting. Looking back I don’t really remember how that worked sans mouse, but apparently you can try it in Firefox here. So to find myself once again in the western states armed with a rifle was very exciting. Except there are cougars and bears as big as that stupid Model T I’m not allowed to drive. Seriously. It’s of no use for transportation, why can’t I just drive it around Blackwater trying to run down the stray dogs?
At any rate, I spent a lot of time hunting and cheating at poker and I enjoyed it very much. I also tried to heard the buffalo into Blackwater, which is apparently impossible. I find it amusing that the programs actually did consider that someone would try this and therefore programmed the buffalo to stop about halfway down the cemetery fence by the old church on the north side of town. The mini games were a focus of mine because I’ve played enough Rockstar games to assume that once I get to the end of all the missions, the game becomes pointless and boring. I have completed about 75 percent of the story missions and am currently taking a break from them so I can unlock the Legend of the West outfit. I want to look cool in the final throes of battle.
The storyline itself is nothing inspired, though it does adhere to Rockstar’s bleak view of humanity. Every last person you meet in the game is either naive or deranged in one way or another, even the old guy that wants you to collect flowers for his wife. I will say the verdict is still out on the McFarland family. They might be OK. Seth on the other hand, is one of the most insane characters I’ve ever met in a Rockstar game and I’ve met some loons. Something about that big desert sun seems to rot everybody’s brain out here.
The game is rated M for strong sexual content and of course violence. The sexual content part confused me because the main character, one John Marston, is a happily married man and does not partake of the women of the evening, plentiful as they may be. Then, as I was getting ready to pull out of Mexico and head back north I witness a completely unnecessary gratuitous cut scene and all became clear. So you have been forewarned, The Gates of El Presido begins with a very graphic and pointless cut scene. Now, sex in video games is a topic for another post, but when it comes out of left field and shows as much as this does, just let it be said I have no use for it.
The game also continues Rockstar’s long tradition of using stereotypes to fill out its character’s personalities. The missions themselves are a lot of fun and really everything you could hope for in a western. Lots of shoot ’em up action although at times they can be repetitive. When working out of Armadillo, for example, there’s a lot of “drive me here, oh crap there’s bad guys drive faster.” But by the end of the game those seem a distant memory.
For those of you keeping score at home, you may have noticed I’ve spent a lot of discussing the single player for a game I bought because of the multiplayer. Well, fact is Rockstar once again spent significantly more time on the single player and ruined the multiplayer. Anyone who has played the multiplayer on GTAIV can attest to the fact that it is merely a stripped down version of the single player. RDR is no different. Instead of including all the fun mini games like horseshoes and poker, and toys like the lasso or even random encounters and wanted posters, they just threw in a few death match and capture the flag games and left the everything else out. It’s lame. So very lame.
Imagine three strapping young cowboys named Elrood, Enosh and Tophat moseying along the plains driving a herd of cattle and home while huntin’ up some delicious bucks for dinner. This. This is the multiplayer I seek. It’s simple and laid back and very unRockstar, but to be fair, they did put the mechanisms in place for this in the single player. Or how about the posse riding down some notorious outlaw, hogtying him and dragging him back to town? It’s there, now let us do it. I imagine the argument against the inclusion of the lasso had a lot to do with the strong possibility of being in a public server and getting dragged behind a horse for 15 minutes. This concept sounds hilarious, and to cut down on the time spent tied up, there could be a simple suicide button that just respawns you away from the jerks who think its funny to ride up on somebody and drag them around.
The silver lining here is, Rockstar is releasing a free co-op missions pack on June 22, the day after this posts. Hopefully this will be a lot of fun and will include at least some of the elements described above. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!
Also, am I glad I bought RDR? Yes. Am I glad I bought it instead of Alan Wake (Elrood reviews it here), which released the same day? Not particularly, no.