As of the beginning of 2019, I have played multiple games that were experiments into the comercially dangerous zone of a slow-paced experiance. Some of those,
for instance Proteus, is balancing on the edge of even being a game – it’s more of
an experiance simulator than a game, a walking simulator without a clear goal.
Some of those are straight up movies with the “play next scene” button scatterd
all around the controller, like Heavy Rain or Dragon’s Lair.
A few years ago I got Red Dead Redemption from PS Plus on PS3. As I’ve been mostly broke then, and the only game capable device was the PS3, so paying a small fee for access to all those productions was the rare oppurtunity to play
some of the newer games out then. Some of the games on PS Plus were the
case of a rare gem, a forgotten perls (i.e. Scott Pilgrim vs World – If it wasn’t for
PS Plus I think I wouldn’t even hear about the thing existing). Also the
A-something titles were there.
By the way, isn’t it stupid that we call the production value of games by A-something? I don’t like that. It’s just like the batteries size – it wasn’t long ago “AAA” was the smallest rare thing in your stuff, now it’s the “AAAA”, and out there probably some evil masterming is plotting to make “AAAAA” so I can scream it out in a technical anger every time I’m trying to buy the damn things. And with games, I’m just as dazzled & confused as I am with those batteries. But while I can stick the batteries into the slot and check if that’s the case, I cannot easily
stick a game into the A-something slot or socket, nor does it have any significant
Red Dead Redemtpion 1 was the game where the fun wasn’t there. It was more like an endurance test on the player, who was dwelling deeper and deeper into
the westernish early XX century and into the madness of the story.
I cannot remember if I have finished RDR1. I do remember playing it for hours only to find myself tired as hell. I also cannot remember much about the game-
I do remember that noone liked the protagonist in-game, I do remember catching some animals, and I do remember some kind of a snake-oil salesman. Before playing RDR2, I’ve had to read the rest of the story on the wiki, as the game
bored me so much that the story slipped from my mind, as unremarkable.
Unremarkable is not a word I’d spit out in the case of a game made by Rockstar.
Their games since GTA3 had the tendency to deliver “the new something”.
GTA3 was the first serious police-car sandbox in 3D. Vice City is just Vice City, and Vice City is the hyper-romanticized nostalgic 80s postcard, coated with cocaine
and fresh sweat of the floral hawaii shirts. San Andreas was the game where you had the feeling that basically anything can be done out there – you didn’t just get one game in the box, but toys to be played with. GTA IV had a meaningful commentary on what it’s like to imigrate to US and why it sucks. GTA V was there to satisfy all the people with different play styles, and had an interesting case of in-game menu done with a phone. Manhunt (1&2) just looked like the designers had tried to make the most gore-ish game ever. Hell, even their Table Tenis game was made cause they’ve wanted to showcase how good their new RAGE engine is.
And yet, RDR1 was unremarable for me. Yet I’ve jumped straight onto the hype train of buying RDR2 the weekend it released, while being told “it’s sooo good” by multiple people. And the first weekend I’ve played the thing, it seemed to me that I wasn’t playing the game everyone else was playing. I got bored again, and quickly. The game tells you, during it’s bloody long introduction (which is about 10 hours) that it doesn’t want to be played.
What do I mean by “it doesn’t want to be played”, you ask? It’s not like the game
has a popup telling you “TIME EXCEEDED” or something. It’s more of a feeling, that you’ve had enough for today – or even maybe for at least a month. There are multiple games out there without such a flaw – games that can be played with no end while maintaining the player being sticked directly to the damn screen – main RPG Pokemon series here is the best example – I’ve put about 80 hours straight into each game at least, most of which was during the very first week of playtrough.
So yes, RDR2 is a game that doesn’t want to be played by my terms. It also lives on the false promise of a sandbox, which isn’t really a sandbox – you’re greeted with
QTE everywhere, and some of the time during missions you’re encouraged to turn on a “movie mode”. The shooting inbetween all that isn’t really a challange,
but “lock onto a baddie and shoot and repeat” thing. So… RDR2 is closer to being a Heavy Rain / Dragon’s Lair clone for me rather than being a sandbox like Saints Row 3/4. At least that’s what the game is about for the first 30-50 hours of extremely boring 4 chapters – a movie. But while Heavy Rain was more of an “on the track” experiance, RDR2 gives you some degree of freedom… and as soon as you got a taste for it, you’re punished – I’ve had mutiple situations where my group of outlaws was running for their lives while I’ve tried to shoot the pursuers – and invent a plan on the go -only to die or end the mission cause I hadn’t hidden behind the rock the designers intended me to hide behind.
Here I’d like to make a quick break. Do you happen to know what a bad game is?
How one would point out a bad game? It’s the same problem as with many-A games. What is the thing that shows – hey, it’s an universally bad game?
For me that would be the related to the game itself – is the executed idea executed half-assedly? Is the game world presented in such a way that I can properly interact with it? Those are the questions I’d rise – those are the questions one would rise when asking about the game being finished as a product – and I’m surely not the only one with such conclusions as to overall game “bad” aspect:
And you know what? RDR2 has multiple problems with its controlls. A load of times I’ve tried to talk with someone in-game, and instead of talking I’ve shot them directly in the face with a shotgun. And while you could argue that’s some sort of a next level of immersion – you’re a mad outlaw here after all, that could happen – such an explanation doesn’t cut it in case of collision problems. Yes, the
game is riddled with a f*ckload of them. I’ve been stuck in a rock, couldn’t jump on a little ledge, and had my horse spinning on a wooden fence.
But those are mostly techinal issues, not ones concerning the design. And somewhat, I’m a sort of game maker myself. The last thing I do while I try to push out games during jams is music and sounds – they’re the last thing to do, but without them the game feels empty, unfinished of sorts. I’m not the guy that fancies some sort of “delightfully empty” experiances. I’m the guy that’d swallow the Dragon Quest VIII’s symphonic score deep-throat, any time. That’s why I felt that Zelda Breath of The Wild was an unfinished piece of art – it felt like a prototype of game, something that will be good in 30 monthly updates (but Nintendo stopped doing anything with the game after 2 DLCs. Talk about a waste of potential!). And you know what? RDR2 is in a lot of cases silent. So, to conclude: It doesn’t even try to stimulate me with the cheapest, oldest trick in the book – playing music while I play!
So, would I recommend RDR2 to anyone? Let’s think:
Do you like exploration? The world has nothing remarable or especially rewarding that comes out of exploration.
Do you like killing everyone? Then hey, the missions force you to kill in some sort of a pre-determined time frame, so you’re not free here to go full psycho.
Do you like socializing? Then the protagonist constantly will be about “AAA FOGGGET ABOUT IT” type, whom seen everything and wants to be left alone.
Do you want to achieve something? Then this game tries to discourage you from achieving anything at all, showing that the world around the gang is going straight to the brown hell of guano.
And finally, do you like having fun? Cause this game is not fun. This is “old grumpy men doing grumpy old man things in XIX century”.
Should you play this? No. If you want to spend a weekend playing something, try Far Cry 5 instead. If you want to watch a western movie, watch a western movie.
At least you won’t spend a weekend trying to find a reason why’d you even drop the cash for Red Dead Boredness 2.