The question of whether Red Dead Redemption 2 was going to be a good game or not is needless – Rockstar have a track-record of always delivering great gaming experiences that often topple expectations; but with that said, 2018 has been a solid year for gaming, so it’s only fair to ask where that leaves Rockstar’s Western sequel amongst the quality titles we’ve seen in 2018.
While there have been some internet-sighs regarding the game’s pacing, it’s hard for anyone to deny how jam-packed with triple-A spiffiness Red Dead Redemption 2 is. From the spectacular scale of the fictitious American West, right down to the time-sinking side-quests, RDR 2 has an abundance of content and polish that’s made the eight year wait since the original well worth it.
Everything that made Red Dead Redemption (and, let’s not forget Red Dead Revolver) so great has returned and been improved upon. The slow-burn Spaghetti Western story is full of family uncertainty, revenge, and tests of loyalty (you know, the stuff the genre is famous for), while the alluring gameplay mechanics of Dead Eye, the dynamic Euphoria physics engine, and stellar set-pieces all return; while still giving you that lonely feeling of wandering the American outland, kicking open saloon doors, and having a standoff with some bandit scoundrels. It really manages to not only deliver, but perfect that Wild West immersion that so many other games have struggled to capture.
A moment of praise also needs to be given to the voice-acting and script for the game, which is often indistinguishable in quality from that of a big budget Hollywood film, giving players some densely fleshed-out characters who you care about, despite their flaws.
It is really hard to fault Red Dead Redemption 2, and it’s minuscule shortcomings aren’t even worth mentioning; so where does it sit on the ‘if you can only buy one game this Christmas scale’ then?
Well, 2018 has given us the surprisingly robust God of War and the superhero love-letter that is Marvel’s Spider-Man (both of which we absolutely loved). These two games which will undoubtedly be in the discussion for Game of the Year, but while each game has it’s own strengths, it’s hard not to edge Red Dead Redemption 2 above those two release purely due to its immense scale and longevity.
Around this time of year, that ‘Game of the Year’ topic tends to arise, and while there’s still a few late-2018 releases that could shake the boat, there’s no doubt that RDR 2 is a contender for that much-wanted nod of approval.