Hunter K.’s Review: Red Dead Redemption 2 on PS4

THE CHOICES ARE YOURS…!

‘Red Dead Redemption 2‘ is the third title in the Red Dead franchise and is a prequel to ‘Red Dead Redemption‘. This game was created by Rockstar games on October twenty sixth, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox 1, and P.C. With this game, Rockstar wanted to one up themselves from their previous title ‘Grand theft Auto 5‘ by making their biggest game yet, a game that has been in development for eight years.  And trust me it was worth the wait. Caution Spoiler Alert Ahead…

In this installment, you play as gunslinger and outlaw, Arthur Morgan, who runs with a gang led by Dutch Van Der Linde, accompanied with a large cast of other gang members including the returning character you played in the first ‘Red Dead Redemption’, John Marston.  The game starts with the gang fleeing in the middle of a winter storm trying to find a place to lay low as they are getting out of the way of the Pinkerton detective agency that has been tracking them down for quite some time. While you’re there, you , Dutch, and gang member Micah Bell find a cabin to get out of the freezing cold. The only problem is that you run into rivalry gang The O’Driscolls. Once you have “cleaned up” said mess of your enemies, and find there is widow named Sadie Adler.

After this mission, you follow other objectives whether it is finding a lost and hurt John Marston or hunting with fellow gang member Charles Smith, after these it is time to finally get out of the winter tutorials and into the warm grasp of the true heart of the game. You set up a camp where you can raise money to purchase upgrades for your gang, and go hunting to give your camp food. The game, then sets you close to your first town called Valentine. This is your first introduction to get “familiar” with the locals be it good or bad, and the first introduction to the new dialogue system. Holding down a curtain button will give button prompts to aim weapon, greet, or to antagonize a civilian. Each one having a unique response as they were made with a vast script to make them feel real to the player. With this you can go to Valentine or go out and explore the vast land in Rockstar’s largest map yet.

From large vast plains, to the tallest forests, to the dry southwest deserts, or the southeastern harsh swampland and the grand city of Saint Denis and even some returning locations from the first game like the evolving civilized city of Blackwater or your average run down western town of Armadillo it doesn’t only depend on the towns to make the game look amazing. The game already does that naturally as Rockstar has, controversially, poured those eight years of love, hard work, and dedication into so much meticulous detail that you might need a magnifying glass to see.

You go through the game doing missions with other gang members as you stay one step ahead of the Pinkerton’s, who are on your tail and will not hesitate to arrest or even go as far as to kill you. The gang’s motive is to keep wanting to get money to go to a different state. Robbing trains, banks, and oil companies is not enough as Dutch seems to start losing his mind when he doesn’t get his way. Finally, it is time for the heist that will set things straight. Once you relocate to a building remotely away from Saint Denis, you are going to rob this bank and hit it where it hurts taking thousands of gold bars and  bonds.

Upon arriving things seem to be going your way, as you unlock safes taking what you want when suddenly you are notified that the police, along with the Pinkerton’s lay in waiting outside, holding one of your gang, Hosea Matthews hostage and threatening to kill him if you do not turn yourself in. After calling their bluff, they shoot Hosea straight through the heart and he drops dead. Meanwhile, Dutch stalls while you blow a hole through a wall to escape. John gets captured as this sets up a plot point from the first game. You leave the bank shooting your way through police and detectives to get out of sight while waiting for nightfall, so you will escape the city.

Night comes as you, Dutch, Micah, Bill, Javier, and Charles leave the abandoned apartment  and sneak to the docks where you will leave by boat. Once you realize that you can’t get past these guards, Charles acts as a diversion, once the guards are in pursuit,  you escape.

Now this is what I consider the black sheep of the game. Looking back, it makes you feel like you are playing a completely different game. The point I am getting to is… Guarma. An Island off the coast of Cuba. The boat you take ends up in a storm and winds up shipwrecked, leaving the gold at the bottom of the ocean. Once stranded on the island it does not take you long to find the rest of your crew! Getting off the island is not so easy, as you find yourself fighting your way through people who know you have a bounty on your head. Upon arriving back in the U.S.,  Dutch states it is a better idea to split up, so you take a horse to your previous camp to see if anyone is still there. During this ride, they play a song by D’Angelo, Yes…you heard me correctly, D’Angelo, sings a song called “Unshaken” which fits the game in this serious tone way too well. In fact the entire soundtrack does. It is so appropriate, that I wish they would play it more often.

For awhile, the tempo of the game gets a little bizarre for me and it is not till you finish that you realize it was a setup for the the ending. Arthur starts coughing up blood and it turns out that he has been infected by the slow killer, Consumption (now known as Tuberculosis). As the disease progresses he starts hallucinating and sees an elk. I had a feeling this was a symbol as through transitions between chapters you see this elk through nature with a surreal filter with lens flairs and a heartbeat. That is when my mind was blown, as I realized that it was the same elk.  After awhile it runs off and  depending on what decisions you make, you might have a wolf but, I was a big ol’ goodie who read my bible and took my vitamins just like the Hulkster told me too.

Subsequentially,  you come to find out  Dutch’s love betrays him and sells the gangs plans to the Pinkerton’s , causing them a whole new heap of problems that they have to shoot their way out of…Bonus, the traitorous bitch does end up getting killed herself. The next mission is a train heist, where supposedly John gets shot and he is pronounced dead by Dutch. Anyone who played ‘Red Dead 1’ knows John is not dead! Sick of Dutch’s B/S, members start leaving until the only ones left are you, Micah, Dutch, Sadie, Charles, John, and family.

Later on, Abigail, (John’s wife), is captured by the Pinkerton’s so you and Sadie decide to rescue her. You cover her as she goes in to get Abigail, and when she does not come out,  you find yourself in the position of not saving one but two people and go in where you run straight into Pinkerton’s Head Detective Milton. Holding a gun to your head, he announces that Micah was the mole this whole time. I knew it! You, (Arthur) at this point in the game, is now gravely ill as he succumbs to consumption tries to grab Milton’s gun, but can’t muster the strength to disarm him. Watching this scene unfold, Abigail manages to get her hands free, grabs a gun and shoots Milton in the head. You bring Sadie and Abigail back to Jack and tell them to leave while they can. With one problem down, there is one more left. ..Micah.

Riding back to camp, you hear the voices of the people you have helped as yes…D’Angelo plays once again in the background. God I love this game. When you get back to camp you confront Micah and you both end up in a standoff with guns pointing at each other. As you try to tell Dutch that Micah is the spy, you realize that Micah has been manipulating Dutch so he does not know which one to trust. Low and behold, a very undead John walks into the camp and announces Dutch’s treachery back at the train heist. From there it just gets worse as the Pinkerton’s are not done by a long shot! As you and John make your get away by horse, the Pinkerton’s with Micah are hot pursuit. Sadly, both horses die and it is a tearjerker of a moment where Arthur says goodbye to his horse and thanks it for being alongside him. This sucked as I had had that horse from the beginning of the game and the story permanently gets rid of it. John keeps shouting that we have to go before they get us and we make our escape by foot.

This leads to a storyline arch, Abigail gave you a key before leaving saying that Dutch had hid his money in a cave close to camp, and you have the choice to go back and get the money or help John. Going back gives you the “Wolf Ending” like I previously stated and, I will have to play my next go around.

In the end, you go up a mountain with John and give him your hat. You tell him that you have nothing to lose, but John has a family to lead. As John leaves, you sit quietly , but the moment  is cut short as Micah jumps you from behind  and you fall down to a ledge below. With no escape in sight, you must fight or die trying. Arthur and Micah end up having a fist fight that is great  and well played out but eventually Arthur’s tuberculosis sets in and you are nothing but a slug. Crawling to a gun, Micah is behind you when Dutch steps into frame, and you wonder who will he chose to side with. He chooses none and just walks away, as does Micah. Arthur crawls to prop himself on a rock and stares into the sunset and gives his last breath before succumbing to his Tuberculosis. Then it cuts to the elk, then shots of the mountain while zooming out, then I cried a little.

The final credits roll, and the game ends,,,or does it? Now it is time to play as John. It is okay in places but is not as interesting as playing Arthur as we already have an entire game dedicated to John but the best mission of John is building that house. That mission is fun and they play a fitting song behind it. OH! Yeah finding Micah. You end up finding Charles and Sadie and you go into the snowy mountains where Micah was last found. Charles ends up getting shot in the arm and Sadie gets stabbed in the stomach. John is left alone as he climbs up the mountain shooting down any men that steps in his way. You get to the top and Micah steps out and confronts him. He has you pinned down but Sadie sneaks up on him and ends up being a human shield as Micah grabs her. At that moment, Dutch steps out of Micah’s cabin.  You tell Dutch about everything over the years and asks for his help to save Sadie. Dutch finally makes his decision and you both empty your guns into Micah and Dutch walks away. Come to find out, there is money in the cabin which you take to your family. After going back to the house,  John gets married to Abigail, Charles leaves to start a family in Canada, and Sadie goes south to continue her career as a bounty hunter. And that is game.

This is strongly one of the best games I’ve played in a while. Looks great, plays great, but every game has their faults. There were a good amount of glitches, the aiming system is still the same after all these years and is nothing innovative, and Guarma… why Guarma. But aside from all that this could be game of the year easily. There is so much to do. From shaving your hair and different facial hairs to even fishing. Easter are all over the place along with returning legendary animals to hunt. This is a solid game and I will definitely plan it again. If you’ve already played it, do it again. And if you haven’t, Definitely pick this one up and add it to your collection.