Opinion: Red Dead Redemption and the Fail Horse legacy

Truth be told, it’s rare for the your-future-nemesis Sir Nachos Justice to find himself addicted to multiplayer on a console. Those who know me will tell you that the bulk of my gaming loyalties lie with the PC, because crash torn it, that’s where the real game is. Now before you go red in the PSN or get your Xbox LIVE in a knot, you must understand what it’s like to be a PC gamer through and through.

Get to the point Nachos

Some of you would refer to me as a PC fanboy, and yet I prefer the less offensive term ‘PC elitist’. Yell it from the rooftops, write it in the sky and pre-order it for my tombstone because I don’t see my passion for PC gaming going anywhere anytime soon. Keyboards not only offer a myriad of keys that are readily at hand, the more upmarket gaming keyboards allow you to dabble in such funkiness as geeky LCD displays that keep you up to date with your stats and even special buttons that allow programmable macros… mmmm, macros. I could devote the rest of this article to the advantages of mouse aiming over right- or left-thumb joystick aiming but, suffice it to say, it offers a level of accuracy that a console controller can’t match.

In an attempt at being more… objective, I’ve even dabbled in the best of what the consoles have to offer in terms of multiplayer of late. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 even the Halo: Reach beta (which I enjoyed most of all). They’re all great in their own right… that is to say if you prefer eating secondhand bubble gum over the real thing.

How you console gamers put up with comparably average graphics, vibrating controllers and a lack of accurate surround sound (read: headphones) is beyond little ol’ me. And then there’s the aiming! For starters, no PC gamer nowadays knows what auto-aim is, except for those of us old enough to have grappled with the original Doom games (and even then, that was only for enemies above you because the games were designed on a 2D rail logic). As far as I’m concerned, anyone who can consistently score manually aimed headshots with their thumb on a joystick has a higher Midichlorian count than George Lucas and the prequel trilogy combined.

A shameful confession

Console-phobic rants aside, I do have a confession to make: I’m spending altogether too much time with the recently released Red Dead Redemption, and I have to hand it to Rockstar. They’ve thrown together a multiplayer experience that’s not only fun to play, but entertaining as hell to watch. Just last night there were three of us sitting around the TV for hours, passing the controller back and forth after each death, laughing our arses off the whole time.

But the problem is that the addictiveness is comparable to cigarettes: it may be and look like groovy funky sexy fun, but there’s a whole lot wrong with it. I could go into detail about the random connection errors that have you looking at a loading screen for minutes on end, the questionable hit registry or the way that sometimes when you slide into cover you find yourself 500 metres high in the sky, crashing back down to the ground for a not so stylish death.

Instead, I’d like to focus on what has been known around the Nachos residence as ‘Fail Horse’, a term that is in the patent process of being applied to everyday folk in not-so-flattering ways. To be fair, the notion of Fail Horse doesn’t simply apply to multiplayer, as he was also problematic in the single-player portion of Red Dead Redemption as well; but his shortcomings become more frustratingly apparent in the online realm. Those who have played the game will doubtlessly already know what I’m referring to, but for those yet to dabble, allow me to paint you a picture.

The entire single-player land mass is available for the Free Roam game mode (this works as a super-clever game lobby) in Red Dead Redemption: and it’s massive. It can take you a bloody long time to get from one side of the map to the other, and you rarely do this in a direct way as you’ll be attacked by bloodthirsty critters, arsehole players from all around the globe, and the occasional fort filled with crack-shot NPCs who you will swear were trained by Vasily ‘Enemy at the Gates’ Zaitsev. There are quick travel options available, but they’re few and far between… and besides, what’s the point of playing a multiplayer mode if you’re just going to teleport around the countryside?

The legend of Fail Horse

The major problem is that you’ll be spending a lot of your time on horseback, with your not-so-trusty steed, Fail Horse. Fail Horse is named so because of his tendency to disappoint you at almost every turn. In truth it’s funny the first time you summon Fail Horse and you watch him bolt past… but then it gets real old, real fast. Y’see, you don’t move too nimbly when on foot, so the quickest way to get out of a spot of danger is to whistle for Fail Horse to whisk you away. Alas, Fail Horse lives up to his name all too often.

Not only does Fail Horse consistently fuck up the simple task of stopping close enough to you to get the hell out of Dodge, he will regularly add insult to injury. Many a time have I been lining up a killing shot, only to be thwarted by the mysterious appearance of Fail Horse, so willing and ready to take the shot designed for a random enemy: ironically, these instances are usually when Fail Horse stops close enough for me to ride off into the sunset.

Unfortunately, Fail Horse is the cat among steeds and does whatever the hell he wants. If you want a quick getaway, he’ll take twice as long to get to you. If you want a clear line of sight, Fail Horse will want to be in front of you. If you want to lead Fail Horse slowly down a potentially damaging decline, Fail Horse will decide to tumble and die… and sometimes even take you with him. Unfortunately, I’ll be suffering beneath the burden of Fail Horse and his various cousins until I hit a higher rank, and only then will I know if I’ll be passing on the Fail Horse crown to Fail Bovine… if I make it that far at all!

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  • Bagmup

    Unfortunately, the horse riding mechanics in this do suck a bit.

    and console > pc baby..

  • NachosJustice

    If by using the 'greater than' symbol, you mean they provide greater frustration, a greater power bill and they grate on your nerves, then yes… I wholeheartedly concur.

  • Snake

    Not a bad game as I'm enjoying it a lot. Though it's far from perfect. As Baggy as said the riding mechanic & controls are a bit dodgey. Totally agree with the failhorse. Stop Damn you Stop. I don't like how sometime random encounters can just pop up in front of you and you get killed by 4 guys before you have a chance to draw a weapon

  • NachosJustice

    I'm still trying to figure out why it's so addictive! I just hope I can reach the perks of the higher levels before I get over it.

  • PSIress

    I got teleported across the ranch once. Wasn't exactly a great first impression.

  • NachosJustice

    It's a good thing that first impressions don't last… right?

  • kozeeii

    I'm about 3-4 hours in and I've had a whole mess of bugs really piss me off.
    I think the voice acting is really weak, and the one thing that has had me about to “rage quit” was the inexplicable loss of $250 from my character's cash for no apparent reason, literally as I was just about to go weapon shopping for the first. What The Fuck??
    It plays decently enough, but there are problems that everyone is turning a blind eye to, and they MUST be addressed…stay tuned for my review soon…

  • PSIress

    well lets just say it better not happen during missions. I've already heard there are one or two mission breaking glitches.

  • Bagmup

    I suppose pc's do serve their purpose, they keep freaks off the streets and in their mummy's garage instead.

  • NachosJustice

    Trust you (read: jew) to get upset about having money disappear :P. Looking forward to your review!

  • NachosJustice

    I've had a few stuff ups, the worst was when the game hard locked while I was trying to surrender to the local cops… just goes to show how they want you to play the game.

  • NachosJustice

    I LIVED IN MY MUMMY'S GARAGE FOR A YEAR…

    Not entirely sure I disproved your point there… hmm.

  • PSIress

    I'm thinking a lot of people out there jumped on board the hype train that just crashed from of a lot of glitches with this one.

  • NachosJustice

    Are you talking about single-player or multiplayer PSI (or both?)?

  • PSIress

    Both from the sounds of mp, I haven't touched it yet. I just cant seem to get into the sp for long before getting bored, the glitches don't help either.

  • NachosJustice

    Multiplayer is a lot of fun and it'd be great to get a posse together, but it's still not without it's share of flaws.

  • Link01

    If you're using Red Dead's multiplayer as a height of greatness… you my friend have not played many a multiplayer games… and your argument is totally invalid

  • Nick

    Wait, 2 channel headset is better than a 5 or 7 channel surround sound system? I mean, I do enjoy both PC and Console gaming, but find that the Home Theater gives me a better sound system. I mean, I will move my real head left and right to quickly help hone in on a sound.

    I agree completely on mouse and keyboard, but disagree on the sound! Give me my 5.1 home theater system any day!

  • Waddy101

    “As far as I’m concerned, anyone who can consistently score manually aimed headshots with their thumb on a joystick has a higher Midichlorian count than George Lucas and the prequel trilogy combined.”
    I can do that do that on my xbox, i know what your getting at about mouse and keyboard but with a computer you have to sit at a desk constantly to play it whereas with a console you can relax on a sofa or something. That is one of the main reasons why i use my console more, don't doubt me though i do love pc gaming on my custom built-rig because of the customization options like third party mods and a nearly always higher graphics quality.

  • NachosJustice

    The point of this article was to highlight the problems with Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer, contrary to the current popular opinion in the media.

  • NachosJustice

    Two-channel headsets… weren't they phased out before the 21st century? I'm currently using a 7.1-channel surround sound headset, upgraded from a 5.1-channel surround sound headset. I also have 5.1 surround sound on my Xbox 360/PS3, and while it sounds great, it pales in terms of accuracy when compared to the aforementioned headsets; particularly as it relates to height.

  • NachosJustice

    I do rather enjoy the convenience of relaxing on a couch while playing some good ol' fashioned console games, but I've also done a few stints of plugging a computer into my TV and using a Bluetooth-connected keyboard/mouse combo to make PC gaming a whole lot more comfortable :D.

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