red dead redemp­tion II

Rock­star de­liv­ers an­other cow­boy clas­sic

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - START - Dave Meik­le­ham

Arthur Mor­gan’s Old West epic makes us hate the real world more than a lit­tle bit. Com­pared to the end­lessly pretty prairies, be­witch­ing bay­ous, and ver­dant val­leys Rock­star’s lat­est open-world mas­ter­piece serves up, mod­ern city sights can’t com­pare. Once you’ve spent hours roam­ing the eye-arous­ing heart­lands of New Hanover, go­ing back to a world of grubby multi-storeys, lit­ter-filled parks, and graf­fiti-cov­ered streets just won’t cut it.

Red Dead Redemp­tion II is a mas­ter­piece; as ob­vi­ous and de­served a 10/10 as you’ll find on Xbox One. Is it game of the year? With­out a doubt. How about game of the gen­er­a­tion? Quite pos­si­bly. With its vast, won­der­fully var­ied map, in­cred­i­bly sharp script, as­ton­ish­ing vi­su­als, and an elec­tric se­lec­tion of bril­liantly paced mis­sions, this is the sort of sand­box clas­sic only The Witcher 3 and Rock­star’s own Grand Theft Auto V can go toe-to-toe with.

This (cow)boy’s life

Set 12 years be­fore Xbox 360’s Red

Dead Redemp­tion, this pre­quel fleshes out the crim­i­nal anec­dotes John Marston used to re­gret­fully re­call. The story picks up in the dy­ing days of the 19th cen­tury in a ru­ral stretch of US States that are slowly but surely eras­ing the age of the out­law. The ro­man­ti­cism of the Fron­tier is fad­ing as en­croach­ing cap­i­tal­ism and big city life steadily put paid to cow­boy ways. It’s in this rapidly evolv­ing world you step into the spurs of Arthur Mor­gan: a surly, strong-minded yet of­ten com­pas­sion­ate cow­poke. Mor­gan is the num­ber two to Dutch van Der Linde, and 70 per cent of the game sees you car­ry­ing out this delu­sional, yet ide­al­is­tic leader’s crim­i­nal bid­ding.

With much of Dutch’s gang con­sist­ing of gung-ho scoundrels

and mis­fits – from for­mer work­ing girls turned en­thused bounty hun­ters to sil­ver-tongued con men – the game’s script sur­prises at ev­ery turn. Rock­star de­liv­ers a twist­ing, sub­ver­sive story that com­bines el­e­ments of Once Upon A Time In The West, There Will

Be Blood, and even The Revenant. The script is rapier-sharp, the plot beats bold, and the themes ma­ture. When it comes to stel­lar triple-A sto­ry­telling, Red Dead Redemp­tion II sets scin­til­lat­ing new stan­dards.

This is also a game where you very much craft your own sto­ries at ev­ery avail­able op­por­tu­nity. Like any good sand­box worth its sodium, Rock­star’s out­law throws a va­ri­ety of worth­while side dis­trac­tions at you. En­gage hun­dreds of be­spoke NPCs in con­ver­sa­tion, then ei­ther greet or an­tag­o­nise them with con­tex­tual chats. Treat your­self to all man­ner of ques­tion­able hair­cuts at one of the game’s many bar­bers. Try your hand at high-stakes poker to ei­ther

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