Review: Red Dead Redemption Game of the Year Edition Pete Cooper 4 November, 2011 Game Reviews, Retail Games Red Dead Redemption was 2010’s game of the year by a long stretch. Just looking back at Tom’s review here on Xboxer360 you can see the love that was offered freely to the game, and the metacritic score of 95/100 is more than well deserved. Having played the game at the point of release, Lord knows I share Tom’s love for the tragic story of former outlaw John Marston and his horseback-riding adventures across the dying West. The story itself is highly nuanced, bringing in all the very best of the Western genre while injecting their trademark cynicism and wit to the proceedings. A huge cast of colourful and entertaining characters helped make Red Dead Redemption one of the best single player gaming experiences that the Xbox 360 has to offer. For those of you who have not had the joy to play Red Dead Redemption (or as many gamers took to calling it, Grand Theft Horse), the story follows John Marston, a former villain of the old West who is being forced to come to terms with the death of his way of life. It is 1911, and technology and industry is taming the badlands and bring the Wild West to heel. Coerced by government agents, Marston is sent as a bounty hunter to help eradicate his former gang in an adventure that goes from the American prairies to old Mexico and back again. The game also comes with a multiplayer mode, allowing you and your friends to play in traditional deathmatch scenarios in both team-based and free-for-all flavours or against the AI. Capture the flag modes are also available, and the highly touted Free Roam mode allows you and your posse to ride out into the open plains and hunt animals, attack AI gang hideouts or simply muck about fragging one another. The experience now has waned from what it was when the game first came out and forming posses isn’t exactly easy, especially with the slew of games being released this season, but if you can get a group of friends together to go for a ride, it’s a fantastic experience. It would have been very easy to make Red Dead Redemption into a highfalutin’ exercise in pedestrian gameplay, but Redemption managed to tow the tricky line between pretention and auteurism. The game of course uses the same engine as GTA IV, and I can safely reaffirm that they managed to do a heck of a lot with it. For anyone who might find this concerning due to issues regarding the arcade-style combat of the GTA series or their inability to use vehicles, you will be pleased to know that horses are much easier to ride than motorbikes and the combat, while at times unforgiving, is both simple to grasp and rewarding. This is especially true when using the dead-eye mechanic – a game function that really does turn you into gunslinger you need to be. The core game itself remains brilliant over a year on, and the addition of the various pre-order and post-release DLC in the Game of the Year edition means you get the ultimate Red Dead experience possible, expanding the game world, creating new side-missions and plenty of new multiplayer modes. This is great for newcomers, but inherently of less value to those who have played the game already, especially if they have bought up the various DLC packs. The GOTY edition also adds a hardcore mode that makes certain parts of the game truly unforgiving, dropping your health and severely nerfing dead-eye so that it only regenerates with the death of your enemies. It’s tough. Tough like the West. It feels like the way the game should be played. Now, Rockstar are known for many things, but if there’s one thing they’re known for best, it’s having their finger on the pulse of popular culture. Red Dead Redemption itself is a glorious celebration of the Western genre, creating a wonderful cinematic experience up there with other Rockstar titles GTA IV and LA Noire (though I would argue it plays better than either). It is fitting, then, that the Game Of The Year edition come with Red Dead Redemption DLC “Undead Nightmare”, offering up a healthy serving of zombie movie throwbacks to go with the Western offering already on show. The Undead Nightmare DLC works as a nice, out of continuity side story to the main game – a fun romp through a zombified Wild West. Undead Nightmare is possibly the biggest draw, a massive campaign coupled with even more multiplayer content. There’s little to complain about in Red Dead Redemption that was not covered in our previous review – minor repetition and occasionally occurring bugs that crop up from time to time but do not fundamentally let down the gameplay experience. It is a small price to pay for what is, for all intents and purposes, a work of art. So what more is there to say about Red Dead Redemption’s Game of the Year edition? Game of the Year was a title well earned in 2010, and the new release makes this the definitive experience of the game. If you’ve never played it, this is your chance, and I urge you to take it. What a game. What a game.