Red Dead Redemption: First Gloss


Something you may not know about me is that my upbringing was absolutely steeped in cowboy nostalgia. One side of my family settled in Oklahoma (“settled,” that’s a cowboy word for ya) and growing up I heard all kinds of starry-eyed stories about life in the prairie and the Wild West and how “the Indians would come into the house at night and kiss the babies if you weren’t careful.”

While I may never know what in god’s name my great-grandmother meant by that last statement, I think eventually I was bitten by the cowboy nostalgia bug. And finally it’s all come full-circle and I can combine my urban geek lifestyle with that of my forebears in covered wagons. I’m sure they’d respect me virtually dispatching outlaws and breaking horses in Red Dead Redemption‘s border towns. Yes, I am sure they would have the utmost respect for that.

So yeah, I actually managed to procure a little free time to fire up Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption and tap into my cowboy heritage via the Xbox 360. So far it’s going really well. Here are my first impressions! I mean, my First Gloss– that’s what I’m calling these previews these days.

1. Holy shit it’s exciting to be playing a game that’s not set a) in a war-zone b) in space or c) in a dimly lit horrorscape of some kind. Makes me wonder what other largely untapped settings remain for the gaming industry.

2. Your rough-and-tumble (that’s a thing, right?) protagonist is one damn finely dressed gentleman. I really like what he’s wearing as the game begins. I only have one of his outfits so far, but you can acquire more for playing dress-up through sidequests and whatnot, of course. I love the art direction and this era’s style in general– It’s a feast for the eyes. A feast I said! I always wish games that allow this degree of freewheeling would RPG-out and offer a huge amount of clothes and gear to acquire. I could do that all day. Also I would LOVE to design my own cowgirl. But I get this is a narrative 3rd person shooter and not some pansy-ass JRPG. I get it!

3. Okay, so I’m not far into the game, but I’ve already been sidetracked with flower-picking, coyote-hunting and fowl-shooting. This reveals a lot about my RPG roots probably, but I’m super pleased to have little sidequests like this built into the open world of Red Dead. I’m notoriously distractable in an open game, so I imagine I’ll spend a lot of time roaming around aimlessly through the desert. But luckily, Rockstar anticipated that and put all sorts of fun, unpredictable stuff in the environment: the first time I wandered about fifty paces out of town I found a dude who was getting eaten alive by cougars and clearly needed a hand.

4. I cannot ride a horse to save my life. I mean, I think I can in real life, actually. I cannot ride a horse to save John Marston’s life, rather.

5. Red Dead Redemption is brought to us by the makers of Grand Theft Auto, a franchise notorious for letting you do Whatever the Hell You Want. So I expected things to start out real messed up, like I’d be double-crossing some Mexican drug cartel and raping and pillaging and all sorts of shit I’m probably gonna have mixed feelings about. But so far, I picked a lot of flowers and politely rode a train without even hijacking it. Okay, so MAYBE I accidentally shot some townsfolk with a shotgun. And I may have killed a dog I thought was a coyote, because it can be hard to tell. Oh yeah, and I accidentally skinned MY OWN HORSE after letting it get killed by wolves. That takes the cake for the most messed up thing I’ve done so far. It was sick. I pray it never happens again.

I’ll be back with a full review after I stop hunting unsuspecting wildlife and picking flowers and actually follow the plot! But for real this time, not like when I said I’d be “right back” to review Final Fantasy XIII and what I really meant was ‘ask me in November.’

Check out the Wild Wild Virtual West yourself, for the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3, and let us know what you think!

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Taylor has written 136 articles for us.


  1. I’m so glad you’re reviewing this game. WANT IT SO BAD.

    Note: A friend of mine said he robbed a bank and that it “didn’t go well”…so I mean. There’s that. Just a head’s up. In case robbing a bank was something you thought would be a great idea.

  2. “[…]how “the Indians would come into the house at night and kiss the babies if you weren’t careful.”

    While I may never know what in god’s name my great-grandmother meant by that last statement[…]”

    I thought that was pretty clear actually.

    Also, I WANT THIS GAME NOW. I’m highly distractable irl and so I OBVIOUSLY love these types of games; I understand you perfectly Taylor. Keep updating until I get it! Please?

  3. Heehee, I totally know what you mean about fully RPG-ing it. I’m waiting for the day when a GTA style game, gets crossed with the lifestyle complexity Sims, and then crossed with the hugeness of online games like Warcraft. Then, I feel, gaming will really have become accessible to women. (Now I say this knowing that a lot of women, my other half included, don’t particularly care as I do about the personality and style part of the character).

    I’m currently away from home on work, and I had Red Dead Redemption on pre-order, so it is KILLING ME that it’s sitting in my postbox, unloved. /wail

  4. Taylor, my maternal grandfather’s family is Native American… we might have to have our own real-life cowboys and indians type fight or something. This statement has nothing to do with the video game. Carry on.

    • I’m part Native American too! Part Cherokee part Choctaw. I always wish I was full blooded. Sigh.

      • So you’re at war with yourself then? ;) We are Ojibwe [Chippewa] but all the family records burned in a fire so there was no proof for us grandkids to get college scholarships, which really sucked. After being forced off the reservation my great-grandpa 1)shunned the entire culture and 2)grew very distrustful of the government. To this day my grandpa calls himself white and is full of conspiracy theories…

  5. Yes!!! I heard that Rockstar was developing this game a couple years ago and was super excited about it, but then forgot about it! I loved that game called GUN, anyone remember that? The boss fight at the end rather sucked however.. I just loved riding the horsies around aimlessly for some reason!
    I’ve been playing Dragon Age for about a month straight now, and I’ve been waiting for a new awesome game to check out, looks like this one will be it!

  6. This game + The Man With No Name trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West soundtrack playing in the background is like overdosing on awesome.

  7. Hey Shellitor! I remember GUN! I really liked riding the horses around too! I’d ride ’em real fast like (uh oh, I’m talking cowboy already) and then skid ’em to a stop and just off real quick. I also liked to jump over fences/bushes/dead people/other animals/everything.

    Taylor! I can’t wait to play this game! If I ever un-lazy myself and join Gamefly, this will be my number one rental. And I’m with ya… I love a good space/warzone/horrortown game as much as they next guy, but it’s nice to mix it up a bit and land yourself somewhere different. And also in a cowboy hat.

    • Yeah!! That’s exactly what I did! Why oh why is that so much fun? Heh! I also loved the while on horseback shooting bad dudes n stuff, heh heh! I might have to dust of my PS2 and play that game again.

  8. Why, oh why, haven’t I bought myself an Xbox by now? I’m a gamer. I game. I would love a game that was set in the old west. The exploring and coming upon little things to do makes a good game really fun. It’s so nice to not be hemmed in to a script.

  9. Picked this up at the weekend, and definitely going to make some time to play it this week.

    I am desperately hoping the multiplayer has some cowgirl avatar possibilities, because when my friend was persuading me to buy it a while back, I asked if I could be a cowgirl with a lasso and we could go rustle cattle, and he said yes, and if he lied I will cry and never trust him again.

    Although RPG-ing up games like this sounds good in theory, I’m quite glad they don’t do it more. I found the small RPG elements in GTA San Andreas (like levelling up running stamina and going to the gym) a bit unnecessary. I already am exhausted by one online RPG, I sort of like to keep the offline games a little simpler and purer.

  10. This game is great. Fantastic writing, and truly engrossing side quests and mini games. Officially taken over my life. And I love that I’ve pretty much spent hours upon hours pursuing outfits for Mr. Marston. Digital dress up! Haaaaay!

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