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Hands on: Red Dead Redemption

We visited Rockstar in London to get a taste of Red Dead Redemption prior to its release. We were thoroughly impressed...

Harsher and more realistic than anything you may have previously experienced. Welcome to the wild west as you have never seen it before.

The 19th century is about to turn into the 20th century. The era of the wild west is slowly coming to an end. John Marston starts to realise this as he has been betrayed by his old gang, and he gives up his life as an outlaw and starts a family. One day there is a knock on his door. Federal agents hand Marsten a simple choice. He can either hunt down his former associates and bring them to justice dead or alive or his family is toast.

Red Dead Redemption

John Marston's mission takes him through three massive and completely open areas in the south western United States and northern part of Mexico. The environments in Red Dead Redemption are so beautiful that you can ride around for hours and enjoy the scenery. But this western isn't just huge when it comes to the size of its environments (it beats out both Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto IV), but it's also densely packed with content. We played through two mission and in between them we came upon several things on the side, unexpected events and a shoot out between law men and a gang of bandits.

In one of the missions we had to deal with a wanted man. Personally, I shot him in the foot and incapacitated him, while the journalist next to me shot him dead. We were informed that such choices will have a noticeable impact on your game, and if you commit too many criminal offences you will become a wanted man yourself, and if you decide to gun down an entire settlement it will be a ghost town the next time you come around. It's a dynamic world, and if the weaponsmith gets killed his shop will be closed up for good.

The concept in Red Dead Redemption comes across as a refined and more realistic version of Grand Theft Auto IV and the controls are very similar. All of the weapons from the era function realistically, the shotgun kicks like a donkey and the ringing in our ears from the rifle was quite persistent. During gunfights you duck in and out of cover all the time and the cover system worked like a charm. It's fairly obvious where you can use the environment for cover, but it doesn't look artificial in any way. Red Dead Redemption is filled to the brim with frantic shoot outs.

Red Dead Redemption

Even the physics in Red Read Redemption are polished to perfection. Shoot an enemy in his foot and he will fall down and try to crawl away, snipe a horse at full speed and he will stoop down and the rider will get thrown off. Another nice detail is that you can shoot off any hat, not to kill whoever is wearing it, but to show just how badass you are. We also experienced some delicious explosions as we shot up TNT boxes in a mine, and saw baddies fly across the screen.

Red Dead Redemption is described as a spiritual sequel to 2004's Red Dead Revolver. We don't necessarily agree as two only things the two games seem to have in common are similar names and something called Dead Eye. Dead Eye, is a simple bullet time system that lets you slow down time and target Marston's enemies. When you pull the trigger the bullets are served with the finesse of a true gun man.

Red Dead Redemption

The multiplayer is another one of Red Dead Redemption strengths. It builds upon the foundation from Grand Theft Auto IV, but with many added improvements. Our favourite multiplayer mode lets us roam freely in the open world, explore, shoot each other or team up to do side missions. There is also a multiplayer mode called Gold Rush, where you collect bags of gold, and there are the usual suspects in the shape of death match and a capture the flag clone. One detail we loved about it was that prior to each match both teams lined up in a classic duelling positions. Standing face to face with the other team is a great reminder of just who you're gunning for, and it also gives us a chance to get in a cheap shot before the action starts.

Rockstar San Diego have devoted many years on Red Dead Redemption and it really shows. It's an extremely vibrant, cool and entertaining game. We have found ourselves a new western hero, a new favourite world and brilliant action title we cannot wait to spend more time with.

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