Red Dead Revolver
I sure like Westerns and I do like shooters but unfortunately these two don’t get combined very often. Last one I enjoyed was Outlaws but that seems like ages ago although it’s only six years actually. Rockstar gave it a try too and the result was Red Dead Revolver: a game that is certainly rare but it is not because there isn’t a hell of a lot of competition that they can get away with everything or do they?!
First thing you will have to get used to is the camera which is to be operated completely manually. Of course filming and photography still was in its infancy so you can not expect the first Kodak camera from 1888 to be an innovative and practical digital one as we got today! After half an hour you will get used to it and it will only thwart yours plans occasionally when you are riding a horse or so.
Compared to other movies Westerns are quite long. More than three hours is still long for a movie, even today but that is were RDR fails slightly. I figure if he saves his breath an experienced gamer should walk through the single-player in a day. That is long compared to a movie but a game should at least last a full weekend, even the ones that play like a movie. You can play in multiplayer levels against friends or cpu but that does not has what it takes to lengthen the experience and neither do the things you unlock when you finish the story mode. You can play it again on hard instead of normal or run through the story once again but you fail if you shoot anywhere but in a head. You should be able to play a duel against a friend, that would have been fun but these things simply do not have much added value.
What I appreciate most in games like this is the story and that is where this games shoots the bulls-eye. It feels as if written by the master Sergio Leone himself which would have been a mission impossible since he died in 1989. Too bad he missed the fall of the Berlin wall, which ended the cold war symbolically, only half a year after his death. You wonder why? We would have seen one hell of a good war movie because he was planning something spectacular with the Soviets on the siege of Leningrad. With these political barriers faded that would have been easier then ever. Not that he deserves all the writing credits though because his first real success, A Fistful Of Dollars, was a shameless remake of Yojimbo from Kurosawa. Perhaps interesting to know is that The Magnificent Seven, another great Western but with John Wayne, was a remake too (except that story moved to the Wild West) from Kurosawa’s Shichinin No Samurai. In the end all that does not even matter because it is a great story about revenge with a snowball effect that takes you on an adventure all over the west. Thumbs up Rockstar.
It is not completely justified but everybody does associate Morricone with Western scores. This classmate of Sergio Leone is still adding scores to his list, unbelievable but true this list contains over 400 themes, and it is without doubt I can say that the music is the best I have ever heard in a game. As I said Morricone does not restrain himself to making Western music. Other movies he contributed to are The Untouchables and Kill Bill but if you are talking about coincidence you’ll like the sound of this. Morricone is going to do the soundtrack for a movie called Leningrad to be directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Perphaps he wants to help realising his late friend’s last project, who knows?
Graphics are special and take a while to get used to but after about an hour, when you have made sure that is meant to be blurry and it is not your television giving up, you will stop noticing the special style. The cut-scenes are great because they are given that old look you get on a VHS after watching it a dozen times.
Now, I do not see the short story mode or the manual camera as a con and you can indeed forgive those things. The AI remains unforgiven however because it is so bad that it takes away some of the atmosphere so preciously created. Whether your opponents are plain dumb or can do things only Gods are capable of does not matter. The thing is you have design levels and difficulty in a way that the protagonist can create a situation wherein he beats a worthy opponent. That surprises me from Rockstar because they already had know-how from Max Payne concering AI. They have used the slow-motion gameplay again too so why creating something bad instead of reusing something good? If you have to walk up a stair to make it on top of a roof so does your opponent and he cannot simply stand on ground level one second and appear behind you on the first floor a second later. On the other hand a soldier must not stop shooting and turn his back at you to face some bushes while you are reloading.
There are three kinds of games in the world my friend: the good, the bad and the ugly ones. Red Dead Revolver sure as hell isn’t bad perhaps ugly but meant in a dirty kind of way as a Leone Western is supposed to be. You can buy a lot of third person shooters for a fistful of dollars but for a few dollars more you get one that feels as if you were holding a fistful of dynamite instead of a controller!