Outlook 2010: Red Dead Redemption
In a way, Red Dead Redemption will be Rockstar's first Red Dead game. On the PS2, Red Dead Revolver was already being built by Angel Studios for Capcom before Rockstar acquired the developers and renamed them. They're building Redemption from the ground up, and that's the most exciting prospect about it.
If Rockstar knows how to deliver anything, it is melodrama threaded throughout a thoughtfully realized virtual world. But with the setting of the Old West, a lot of the tricks that it's used in the Grand Theft Auto games just won't work. No ambient inner-city chatter or radio stations with demented deejays. In a GTA game, you know you're going to get into car chases; the whys and wherefores of a coyote attack or bear hunt aren't as familiar. We're going to have to tame wild horses in this game!
We already know what kinds of folks we'll probably be meeting, though, since the Houser Bros.' empire specializes in moral ambiguity and conflicted characters. Protagonist John Marston talks about having been a thief, a murderer and a kidnapper. But I don't know what kind of Marston I'm going to be. That's exciting.
Russ, you're the scholar of the Western. Do you think we're going to get the videogame equivalent of "The Searchers"?
This will really be a proving ground for Rockstar, won't it? Is the company truly as masterful at world-building as we'd like to believe, or has it evolved one toolset and one approach that is perfect for replicating the modern world but too specific to apply to anything else? The America of Red Dead Redemption is a whole different world. Different combat dynamics, different vehicle dynamics, different pacing, different attitude.
And so much of that world has never properly been built in a game before. There are very few horses that feel right, very few usable rope dynamics (i.e., lassos) and no Western worlds that actually feel like they're a representation of the time, rather than a version of a modern city with 80 percent of the stuff taken out.
The pitfall here might be to expect an Old West equivalent of Grand Theft Auto IV, when what we should really be looking for is a workable game along the lines of Grand Theft Auto III. I'm concerned that Rockstar is hoping to build a world on the level of Liberty City in GTA IV and, without having years of understanding how the underlying mechanics work in a Western world, that it won't work.
But then I look at the gameplay trailer that was released in December and think, damn, they might have done it -- this might be on the level of GTA IV. So while I think the game equivalent of "The Searchers" is a lot to ask for, and not even what we really need, I'm seeing more than enough to have some old-timey hope that Rockstar has taken the high road to success.
Our Outlook for the first half of 2010 continues...
- Outlook 2010: Alan Wake
- Outlook 2010: Aliens vs. Predator
- Outlook 2010: APB
- Outlook 2010: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
- Outlook 2010: BioShock 2
- Outlook 2010: Command & Conquer 4
- Outlook 2010: God of War III
- Outlook 2010: Gran Turismo 5
- Outlook 2010: Heavy Rain
- Outlook 2010: Just Cause 2
- Outlook 2010: Final Fantasy XIII
- Outlook 2010: Red Dead Redemption
- Outlook 2010: Star Trek Online
- Outlook 2010: Supreme Commander 2
- Outlook 2010: Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction