Tag Archives: Red Dead Redemption

Belatedly, let’s talk about Red Dead Redemption 2

Late last month, Rockstar dropped its first teaser trailer for the brand new Red Dead Redemption 2. A series of persistent rumors had popped up some months before hinted that a sequel to the very popular Red Dead Redemption was in the work. It seems that, thankfully, they turned out to be true!

In a way, I feel like I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption for a several years. I first played it in 2013, and then I played through it again, fully, earlier this year. But during the between years, I’ve played the game sporadically, just to pick up missed side quests, do a little treasure hunting, or spend a little time meandering through its wondrous landscapes on horseback. The game is just one of my favorites, from the story to the music to the environments, and I simply need to revisit it every now and then.

Continue reading Belatedly, let’s talk about Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption: Second Time’s a Charm?

Image by Flickr user Jussi Mononen (CC)
Image by Flickr user Jussi Mononen (CC)

At the beginning of 2013, I finally got around to playing Red Dead Redemption. We had rented to game some months earlier, and though it looked interesting at the time, I was too engrossed in other games to really take notice. But rather than just forget about RDR completely, I instead picked it up on sale around the holidays. It became one of the best decisions I’d ever made.

I loved Red Dead Redemption. Like, loved loved it. I called it one of my most favorite games of the Xbox 360/PS3/Wii generation. I loved its sights, sounds, and gameplay. I loved being in the “Old West” as modernity encroached. I loved taking the reigns as John Marston, ye gruff seeker of right in the face of wrong. I loved the game despite some glaring flaws, particularly with its endgame. And ever since I put down the controller nearly three years ago to date, I’ve wanted to play the game again. But as with gaming, other games prevailed, and Red Dead was set on the backburner. Our “favorite” games challenge (big ups to the friendly purveyor of Murf Versus for planting that idea seed) that we set last month finally gave me the perfect opportunity to not only replay the game, but to somehow revisit it in a different way than I had before. How did things go in New Austin the second time round? Why, I’m so glad you asked!

Continue reading Red Dead Redemption: Second Time’s a Charm?

[REVISITED] The moral compass and where it leads (or doesn’t)

Our month of weekly reblogs picks up here with a post from Cary focusing on Red Dead Redemption and morals in games (and gaming).


The moral compass and where it leads (or doesn’t)

To view the original post from May 2, 2013, click here.

Image by Colony of Gamers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colonyofgamers/3253156781/
Image by Colony of Gamers

If you follow my personal blog, you might have noticed that I recently finished Red Dead Redemption. If you don’t follow my blog, well…OMG go follow it now!  Haha…just kidding (mostly). Anyway, Red Dead Redemption. Simply put, Red Dead is a brilliant game. It’s wonderfully designed, beautiful to look at, and thrilling to play. And even as my mind fills with all the fantastic things that make Red Dead a fantastic game, I can’t stop obsessing over the one thing, the one, little thing that still bothers me about the game. It has to do with morals.

BEGIN SPOILERS 

First off, Red Dead is not a moral game. Unlike GTA IV, Mass Effect, and similar games, making moral choices isn’t part of the gameplay. But that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t convey values. In fact, protagonist John Marston’s moral dilemmas form the crux of the entire story. He had a rough past that he’s trying to escape for the sake of his family. He makes choices throughout the game that deeply affect his psyche. By the time he saves his family, were led to believe that he’s changed for the better. Yet, Marston is a man stuck between times – the rough and tumble frontier era and the new-fangled, contraption-driven modern era. He’s a hunter, a fighter, a killer, and cares little about what the future holds (outside of his family’s farm); and that’s all well and good. John is not amoral, but, in the end, it turns out that he’s not exactly the most dimensional figure either.

Enter Jack Marston, John’s teenage son. Jack is also caught between the past and the future. But Red Dead’s writers make him out to be an idealist, almost a romantic. He loves reading and storytelling. He’s interested in what the modern world has to offer. He like animals and dislikes hunting. Or, at least, these are the things he says in a few of the game’s later cut scenes. But his actions tell a completely different story. And this is what continues to bug me. In the few father-son scenes, there’s no moral tension or transfer between them. And I think there were some really great missed opportunities for discussions of values and character growth.

Take hunting. In a mission titled “John Marston and Son,” John decides that Jack’s spent enough time with his head in books and it’s time for him to learn how to hunt elk. Just prior, John and Jack talk about hunting, and it’s clear that Jack doesn’t like it all that much, but he agrees to go. Call me too involved, but what I hoped for was more reluctance on Jack’s part to participate in the hunt and the chance for John to really become a mentor. I hoped that Jack would refuse to fire at the animals, refuse to skin them, maybe stand up for what he thought he believed in, and maybe fight a little with his father over the issue. Make it interesting! Instead, I got a nominally unpleasant hunt-kill-sell scene just like all the other unpleasant hunt-kill-sell scenes. Jack didn’t say a word of protest and he seemed just as happy to be killing things as his father.

Really? I was just plain angry after that. Marston’s incredible story of decision and survival had disintegrated into a pile of dead elk. The game had kinda, sorta experienced a few moral twists before that point, so what happened? Why not explore the moral issues between father and son at that point? Why even provide an epilogue about Marston and his family if there wasn’t going to be any real character development? Just end the #$!&% game and quit with the ^&$#@ busy work then!

END SPOILERS 

Why do so many stories in games fizzle out when it comes to morals? And I’m thinking beyond what we get to do in many Bioware games. It’s fun to choose between “good” and “bad” and see how those choices affect our characters and the other characters and the environment. But we instill our own values into those characters, and those values are not necessarily written into the game itself. I realize that it can be difficult to convey emotional complexity in games — even L. A. Noire with its “advanced” facial features didn’t get it right all the time — but why not take the extra step to display emotional and moral moments that might go against the “grain.” (Okay, actually L. A. Noire did get it right here, in my eyes anyway.) We see it all the time in novels, movies, TV shows…why not in video games? As video games have progressed, our characters have gone from being one-dimensional to two-dimensional to  three-dimensional in looks only. What is preventing game writers and developers from crossing this seemingly invisible chasm of storytelling?

I’m ready for some multi-dimensionality in character development as well. Bring on the morals and values and complexity you game people, you! Yeah, sometimes I just like to shoot things and collect stuff in games; but sometimes I want a game that makes me think. Challenge me with something that I may not believe in! Go ahead…I dare you.

 

My “Deserted Island” Games — Xbox 360 edition

Image by Flickr user pabuk
Image by Flickr user pabuk

I don’t know that I’ll ever find the right words to describe my relationship with our Xbox 360. Since picking up its controller some six years ago, we’ve run the gamut of emotions, from adoration to frustration. I’ve not played many games on the console, but those few that I have remain the ones into which I’ve sunk the most hours. I mean, the Mass Effect games alone count for months worth of gaming time. And as I look at my list, it pains me to choose only a handful of jewels among the diamonds. If I could only ever use a single current-gen console ever again, it would be the 360, and that’s despite its propensity towards death. We only went through one red-ring episode, and that was one too many as far as I was concerned. If that were to happen with my 360 on my island…well…I’m sure I could MacGuyver a fix with coconut fibers, sand, and solar rays.

The moral compass and where it leads (or doesn’t)

Image by Colony of Gamers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colonyofgamers/3253156781/
Image by Colony of Gamers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/colonyofgamers/3253156781/

If you follow my personal blog, you might have noticed that I recently finished Red Dead Redemption. If you don’t follow my blog, well…OMG go follow it now!  Haha…just kidding (mostly). Anyway, Red Dead Redemption. Simply put, Red Dead is a brilliant game. It’s wonderfully designed, beautiful to look at, and thrilling to play. And even as my mind fills with all the fantastic things that make Red Dead a fantastic game, I can’t stop obsessing over the one thing, the one, little thing that still bothers me about the game. It has to do with morals.

Continue reading The moral compass and where it leads (or doesn’t)