Have you ever wished you could go back to the days of the Wild West? To travel on horseback across the open plains and mountains of the new frontier, live off the land, trade in the towns and hunt down the bandits of so many childhood stories? Well, very soon you can. Rockstar San Diego are developing a new sandbox style game, Red Dead Redemption, on a scale comparable to that of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And like the GTA series, Red Dead Redemption is set to bring a whole new meaning to in game freedom of action.
Set in at the turn of the 20th century, during the death rattle of the old west, players will control the character of John Marston, a former outlaw who is given an ultimatum by government agents to hunt down his old gang leader or his family will be in danger. Marston must travel the vast gameplay area, encounter literally hundreds of unique, individual characters, visit countless towns and trading outposts over three distinct territories to find his man. Each unique area is distinct from the other, and one is based in Mexico with a revolutionary sub-plot. The vastness of the game is to be kept interesting by the random generation of encounters as the player explores, including ambushes, hangings, calls for help and attacks. There will be a plethora of mini-quests or side-stories and players will be able to hunt animals for their skins when in the wilderness.
The game will encourage exploration and an honour system will keep track of the character’s progress and moral compass. Good deeds result in increased honour; nasty acts will result in depleted honour. In the bounty hunting side quests players can choose to kill or take their target criminals in alive, with effects to honour of your choices.
The videos of the game that have been released show that, like Rockstar’s other big title, GTA4, Red Dead Redemption uses the R.A.G.E. engine and the layout is familiar to GTA fans. Several multiplayer game modes have been announced, including free-roam, deathmatch, team deathmatch and gold rush. Like GTA4, free-roam will allow the players free reign of the entire game map, but adds the ability to interact with other human players to form posses and take on other gangs. Multiplayer will allow character progression over 50 experience levels and an unprecedented level of freedom of action, with players able to act as vigilantes, outlaws and lawmen to name but a few.
Red Dead Redemption focuses mainly on gunplay in combat, with an array of era-accurate weaponry and the ability to slide-to-cover, use your environment tactically, target a specific person, free-aim or blind-fire your way through any engagement. A deadeye targeting system will allow the player to target specific body parts in slow-time when the deadeye bar is sufficiently full, allowing the quick dispatch of multiple enemies.
Rockstar have managed to recapture the excitement surrounding the release of their flagship GTA titles in the build up to Red Dead Redemption’s May release date, with a clever promotional campaign and informative teaser trailers and videos at their website; gamers wait in eager anticipation to see if the game lives up to the hype, or dies a slow agonising death like it’s predecessor, Red Dead Revolver.