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Gaming: Red Dead Redemption II

Some people will argue that the sequels aren’t necessarily better than the original, but in some cases they are. Think of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when it comes to video games, and Home Alone 2 and The Empire Strikes Back when it comes to movies. It has been eight years since the original Red Dead Redemption made it to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 (as is typical of Rockstar’s long development times), and people have had high hopes about this installment in the Red Dead series.

Red Dead Redemption 2 (RDR 2) is actually a prequel to the original game. The new protagonist is Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang. The protagonist of the first game is also in the game but plays a much smaller role. Action takes place in the year 1899 at the tail end of the Wild West era. Faced with divisions within the gang, Arthur must choose between staying loyal or following his own ideals.

The game adds three new fictional states: New Hanover, Ambarino, and Lemoyne, in addition to Austin and West Elizabeth. Ambarino is mostly a mountain wilderness resembling the United States’ Rocky Mountains and has an Indian reservation; New Hanover is a quickly-growing industrial hub; and Lemoyne is similar to the state of Louisiana— it is bayous, has plantations, and is also a former French colony.

The gameplay retains most of the aspects of the first game. However, player choice is a focal point in the game. According to Rockstar North co-studio head Rob Nelson, “We try to give you options within a lot of these missions to choose how you approach it, whether you’ll go or send your buddies in first.” Even the tiniest things will have an impact later on—how you interact with NPCs will open up quest lines (or close them) and affect your reputation with certain individuals.

Some new aspects to the game include swimming and dual-wielding weapons. Hunting, for instance, reflects real-life hunting: what weapon you choose to kill an animal and where you shoot it will affect the quality of the meat and pelt. In addition, injured animals may try to escape. Like in the real world, animal skins and carcasses will degrade over time, decreasing their value. There are various ways you can get rid of these animal parts, either by selling them to butchers or the general store, taking them back to your camp, or crafting them into clothing or other items. You can even customize your horse to suit your choices, and the possibilities are endless.

Just like animal parts, all items will start to decay over time; weapons will also require maintenance. Arthur can also gain and lose weight depending on how much he eats, a game mechanic Rockstar Games has not used since 2005’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The player character will also have to bathe regularly, much like in real life.

The amount of realism put into the game may frustrate impatient gamers and excite fans of the series, making it a mixed bag. However, it is a solid buy and will keep players entertained for weeks on end.

Developer: Rockstar Studios | Publisher: Rockstar Games
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Words by Jose Alvarez

Layout by Jael Mendoza

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE December 2018-January 2019 Issue