Counterpoint: Red Dead Redemption – Sorry, Dave, but I loved it.

After our post earlier this week on Red Dead Redemption’s flaws, we received quite a lot of heat about ko-zee-ii’s opinions. To show that we don’t always agree with each other on this site and to give her flip side of the coin comes DLC’s sexiest recruit, Ashlee Adams. Don’t be misled by her ravishing good looks, Ash is a dedicated gamer who knows her shit, and can more than back it up. We may not always be of the same opinion here at DLC, but we’re always happy to offer an alternative view, so here’s the site’s first “Counterpoint” piece. Take it away Ash.

Now, Dave (also known as ko-zee-ii), I know you’re probably going to be reading this thinking, “What?! I thought you hated RDR, Missy?!” and yes, it is true that the first few times I played it I was all kinds of unimpressed. I think the primary reason was for the last god knows how long I’ve pretty much exclusively played First Person Shooters. At first, I really struggled with basic elements of the game… such as making John not walk into walls, and turning around to face a different direction.

Unlike most gamers, I went into Red Dead Redemption with no preconceived ideas or notions of what it could or should be. I’m going to come right out and confess, somehow, despite devoting many years and countless hours of my life to gaming, I have never played Grand Theft Auto. RDR was my first Rockstar Games experience.

*** PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD!! Don’t read on if you don’t want to know what happens! ***

When I first started running around shooting people in the Wild West, I certainly never expected to become so emotionally attached to the ruggedly handsome main character, John Marston. Maybe it’s because I have a vagina or estrogen or some other girly thing that causes emotions, but dammit, by the end of the game I genuinely cared about John and I wanted him to be happy (C’mon, what red-blooded woman doesn’t have a soft spot for a charming, polite, good-looking badass?!).

The ending really shocked me. When I walked out of the barn into the final stand off and my screen flipped into Dead Eye, I was on the edge of my seat, ready to take down those Federal motherfuckers in a glorious hail of blood and bullets…. and suddenly my beloved John is bleeding and gasping his final breaths in what was probably the most horrifying death scene I’ve ever seen struck upon a video game main character.

Cue about thirty minutes of hysterical crying (I’m not even kidding. I bawled my eyes out for like half an hour. There are no words for how glad I am that I was home alone when the whole thing went down so nobody witnessed that shameful little display), followed by a lot of stomping around yelling, “FUCK THAT. THAT WAS FUCKED. I’M SO MAD. RAAARGGH.” Then I calmed down, and I realised how much I actually appreciated what Rockstar had done.

Some things I didn’t love:

– I wish we’d had some cut-scenes earlier in the game that included Abigail and Jack, like perhaps a few dream sequences of their life with John on the ranch to allow us to build up more of a connection with them. I found it really difficult to care too much about characters that were, for about 95% of the game, nothing but faceless names. The few character-building ranch missions between taking out Dutch and the final showdown with the Feds just wasn’t enough to make me really give a shit about Abi and Jack. If anything, I thought Abi was a bit of a bitch and Jack was whiny and annoying.

– I’d like there to have been more depth to John and Bonnie’s friendship. Unlike Abigail, we actually got to know Bonnie and she was the only female character I actually cared about or had any interest in. I didn’t like how she was kinda just forgotten halfway through the game. The scene towards the end, where we discover Bonnie’s feelings for John, was really touching and I think part of me kind of wanted to see Abi and Jack gunned down, somehow resulting in Bonnie and John getting together, taking down Ross and becoming fugitives.

– I felt like a lot of the Mexico storyline was unnecessary. I found Reyes to be particularly unlikeable, and I thought that there were too many relatively pointless story missions that revolved around helping the Mexican revolutionaries. I would have liked to have seen more focus on the US government instead.

– Jack. Ohhh, Rockstar, what were you thinking when you cast the voice actor for this obnoxious little weed? It was tolerable when he was just a minor character, but actually having to play as Jack is almost unbearable. If I have to hear that whiny shit yell, “Come on, ya dang nag!” at his horse one more time I’m going to throw my controller out the window. I don’t understand why they didn’t give him a more mature voice once we take control three years after John’s death. Although I still have a few achievements yet to get, I have no real interest in putting any time into the post-game free roam. John is the character I built up and went through so much with, and that’s who I want to play with.

– Although I was glad I got to empty a clip into Agent Ross’ head in the final mission, I was extremely disappointed with how it panned out. What could’ve been such a satisfying and bittersweet conclusion,  was instead a short, anti-climatic, run of the mill duel with an old retiree. I mean, yeah, I shot his wife and his brother as I encountered each of them, but I wanted to tie Ross up, rape him with my shotgun, shoot his family in front of him then piss on their corpses. [Wow Ash, simply WOW! – ko-zee-ii] Or at the very least, a bit more dialogue would have been nice.

One point I did want to address that Dave mentioned in his article on this subject (see Flogging a dead horse – Red Dead’s epic fail), was his statement about John going out like a bitch. Okay, yeah, at earlier points in the game John took on a hell of a lot more bad guys than that, single-handed, and came out unscathed. And yes, he basically committed suicide by walking out in front of a firing squad to bring about an unglamorous end to a guy who’d kicked more ass across the map than all those government boys combined.

But what if he had beat them? We all know that John could’ve taken each and every one of them out, but more would come and his family would constantly be in danger. There’d be no hope of a normal life for Abigail and Jack because the government would never stop coming for him. So the way that I read into that scene was John finally getting his redemption. In sacrificing himself, he tried to save his family.

The ending was not without its flaws, but I take my hat off to Rockstar for creating an ending that generated such a strong emotional response from me. They created a true Western adventure, and the old classic Westerns never had happy endings. Even though I was, and still am, devastated that John Marston had to die, I think if I’d just rode on back to the ranch and lived happily ever after I’d have been a little unfulfilled. The fact that the game continued after what we all assumed was a cliche happy ending left me with an ominous feeling, and considering not one of the stranger missions ended on a high note I suppose I should have seen it coming.

I’ve always been a fan of tragedies (be it movies, books or games), and the ending of Red Dead was sad in so many ways. Aside from the obvious point of John’s death, you could almost say the real tragedy is that Jack turned out exactly like his father despite everything John and Abigail did to prevent that from happening. It’s almost ironic that in their attempts to wipe out one killer, all the US government did was create another one.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with Red Dead Redemption. It’s not the greatest game ever made, it gets pretty repetitive at times and it’s glitchy as hell (which was usually more funny than anything else – at one point in Mexico I tried to steal some dude’s mule which somehow resulted in Mr Mexican Man standing on his mule’s back while riding away), but any game that can not only make me strongly care for its characters, but actually weep for them, ranks pretty high in my books!

The following two tabs change content below.
  • thrillho

    First! …but more to the point: I agree with both articles on the RDR debate as I both loved and hated this game. It had it’s good and bad aspects- like any game- and i think the points raised in both articles are fair and justified. Good fun following what you all thought, and I’m glad I’m not the only person out there who though it wasn’t the greatest game ever made.

  • Anonymous

    While I cant comment to much on the ending of this game (I will finish it one day…….probably), I will agree that your point of view on it does make sense, making the ultimate sacrifice for his families safety. As for ‘pointless story missions’, welcome to Rockstar Games.

  • Snake

    The Same, one day I’ll finish it. While this is my first rockstar game too. I have to say I do like it. No its not the greatest game in the world, and I haven’t found any bugs like Dave has. My biggest problem with the game is it dooesn’t make me want to play it. I don’t know why is this as I love westerns having grown up on a steady diet of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne movies as a kid. But there is just something about this game that makes me want to play other games. When I force myself to play it I do enjoy it

  • Ashlee Adams

    I actually felt the same way, to be honest. It took me a long time to finish RDR because I would play it for a day and have fun but then didn’t really feel like playing it again for a while. It wasn’t until probably the last third of the game where I got really sucked in and sat up til 4am for a few nights in a row to play it and finish it.

  • http://twitter.com/FiveThumbsDown Tom

    I feel an anti-climactic ending was what the game needed, but it could have been done without the duel. The duel really fucked the pacing of the final sequence.

    An ending where you travel all that way as the son to kill your fathers killer, and all you find is an old man among ducks. If it could have left that feeling of no matter what Jack did it still didn’t change anything, that would have been a great ending.

    Of course all the console retards won’t get the ending and wish there was a shootout with explosions and tits, but I digress, Rockstar set the game up with potential to have a really bittersweet ending that makes you think, and they dropped the ball.

  • Anonymous

    I’m with Dave *gag* Rockstar is turning out garbage atm.

    This was by far the buggiest piece of trash i ever rage traded.