Rockstar’s NEW GTA:IV Style Western Sandbox Game Heads Our Way
©2009 Grant Smythe:
Two of the team go gun-slinging with Rockstar’s new Sandbox game
Red Dead: Redemption is NOT just your average 3rd Person Perspective shooter. It’s one of THE Biggest Sandbox (GTA:IV esquire) style games they have ever embarked on, almost 3 times as big as GTA:IV. So do not mistake it for “just another western shooter” – because it certainly is not from what we’ve just seen.
This is GTA:IV gone all historically western on us.
Here’s a teaser of what to expect, and even from this early run code the game looks and plays remarkably well.
• Red Dead Redemption Multiplayer news
• Red Dead: Redemption Trailer
Western games became popular toward the end of the Xbox’s life-cycle and the beginning of This-Gen with games like Dead Man’s Hand, Darkwatch, Oddworld: Strangers Wrath, Neversoft/Activision‘s game GUN, and Call of Juarez but, though all good games, many needed some more massaging in several places to be truly great. Now Westerns are back on the menu with sequels to both Call of Juarez and Red Dead. There was even talk of a GUN 2 (“Gun 2 – Magruder’s Ghost,”) in late 2007 through Activision.
I was a fan of the earlier 1st-Gen Xbox game, Red Dead: Revolver, (available as BC for the 360) with it’s great aiming, slow-mo “Dead Eye” targeting system and not too shabby gameplay. So when we got the call to pop-on-over to Rockstar, we jumped at the chance.
So it was with some level of excitement that we headed off to their offices in uptown Surry Hills in Sydney.
Rockstar, home of GTA:IV and its ilk, is ‘suitably’ placed only several meters away from the Sydney Police training grounds and head offices . . . they must enjoy the irony.
We entered with questions: would we be disappointed, would the early code deliver, would the game satisfy the variety of generations that buy games these days? A sandbox western – would it work as well as GTA:IV?
Red Dead: Redemption uses both the RAGE (Rockstar Advance Game Engine) and the Euphoria Live Motion Engine. The results are brilliant to say the least. Here’s the RAGE in action in their earlier effort with Table Tennis, and if you have not played the game, then get in NOW. You’ll not be disappointed. Below you will find the Euphoria Live Motion in action.
• RAGE Engine at work
Set at the turn of the twentieth century, our hero is John Marston, a retired gunslinger who’s put his life back together and gone all ‘civilian’ – well at least for the last 3 years, with a wife and family. Unfortunately he’s approached by what is termed as “The Bureau“, which is quite factually actually. The BOI (Bureau Of Investigation) was formed at the turn of the century around 1889 and became simply known as The Bureau, starting proper in 1908. It was manned initially by 12 Agents on loan from the Secret Service.
Well they made our character an offer he couldn’t refuse, and turned out to be as ruthless as the men they were sending him after. The game is based around historical events around the time that industrialism and an increasing Federal government presence were squashing the “Wild West”.
The Bureau, not to be confused with The Pinkerton’s, which was started in the mid 1800’s and still operates today as the Pinkerton Detective Agency, went on to become what we now know as the FBI. So there’s some degree of authentic history within the game.
Size wise the game is HUGE, 3 times the size of GTA:IV. It is by far the largest undertaking Rockstar have ever done on a sandbox style game. It is broken into 3 distinct regions: Mexico, as it was at the turn of the twentieth century, The Plains and The Frontier. They all offer their own unique landscapes, buildings, life, animals and interactions between them all.
You’ll find thriving metropolises, barren wastelands, small out-posts in the wild frontier. It has all the makings of a true Western Adventure for you to explore and traverse. If you can see it, climb it, ride or walk up it, you can get to it.
Personally I can’t wait for the chance to become John Marston and save the nice lady in the burning building, find out why The Bureau has made this ‘ultimatum’ and get back to my family – who are hopefully still alive . . . but right now . . .
Let’s find out from another of our staff what his thoughts were of the game Rockstar Australia were showing us. Plus I must say, many thanks to the staff at Rockstar Australia for their wonderful hospitality on the day, it was great finally catching up with them in person:
Also, would hope that we see some DLC escapades similar to the GTA:IV style. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the game is open to a huge number of expansions, and ripe for the picking in that department. Personally I think it is a perfect opportunity for Rockstar to have more DLC available for its games, and thus move closer to digital downloads being more common place.
©2009 Arthur Kotsopoulos:- CE (Community Editor)
Upon discovering that there was a Rockstar office in Sydney I was eager to see what Red Dead: Redemption had to offer after watching the debut trailer in all it’s awesomeness.
Based off the RAGE engine used for GTA IV, Red Dead: Redemption looked amazingly spectacular. Mountains, cacti, horses, wild dogs, grass, tumble weed, basically everything was surprisingly detailed even though the game was in its early code form.
It wasn’t without its little problems though, which are easily forgivable since it is an early code, but I have to say it certainly has captured that whole “Western look and feel” that is missing from many other similar games.
Going for a much more realistic open terrain approach, rather than an arcade ‘on-the-rails’ linear shooter game, it has all the things a Western fan could dream of. There was one special moment I won’t forget, however, where we were shown how big the actual landscape is: if you can see it you can reach it.
That plateau way over there, “yep, you can get there”.
Then there was the random civilian (or so we thought) that popped from behind a rock asking us for help and a ride back to town. OK, sounds fair enough I thought. Pretty generic game situation, but whatever. Then to my utter shock the civilian grabbed my character, threw him off his horse, and then laughed his arse off all the way to the closest hill. Bugger.
When I recovered from the unexpected incident, I started laughing, thinking ” What a dirty **** . . . that was mad!”. In the Wild West there are always consequences of course, and the horse thief got shot in the arm, fell off the horse, managed to stumble away up the hill, but then ended up getting attacked by a wild pack of dogs. How’s that for gameplay!
This was just one of the moments that amazed me. There was a pack of renegade cowboys riding through the barren wasteland, dragging a dead rival from their lasso, while shooting in the air. Another pack of wild dogs attacked an old lady who had fallen victim to the heat. In another section a wagon got hijacked whilst speeding past cacti.
What topped the whole experience was seeing how Red Dead: Redemption utilizes the Euphoria Engine used in GTA: IV and takes it up a notch.
• Euphoria Live Motion – In Action
In GTA IV when you would shoot an enemy they would fall, stagger and such, as a human realistically would. Yet there were times where it was pan out weirdly and look strange. In Red Dead Redemption, however, the Euphoria has been updated to give an even more realistic reaction to fatal gun shot wounds and other woundings.
Shoot an enemy in the gut and they will actually grab their gut and crawl on the floor. Shoot a cowboy whilst he is riding a horse and he will fall off the horse just as a real human were to if you shoot them.
Again shoot someone in the leg and they will fall to the ground then get back up only to limp. Enemies grab their arms if they are shot there and much more.
Then there’s your horse. Different horses react differently towards the player, which is a nice touch. We still have more to learn though. Is the horse tamed? How much punishment can he take running at full speed? Will the horse answer to your whistle? They can even be shot (using the Euphoria engine as well remember), wounded and will react differently on each occasion.
It’s these little things that make this game so promising and even though it is following in GTA IV footsteps in terms of success and franchise notoriety, many will find this game to be just as good if not even better.
Length-wise the game may feature a few less main missions than GTA IV, but where GTA IV’s were shorter these ones will be much longer and more indepth. However, from what we saw, just 3 missions, there’s obviously a lot more, so it’s reallyhard to judge at this point.
In terms of scope let’s just say that it is the biggest project Rockstar have ever done.
For what it’s worth I’d buy the game even if it was released the way it is now, imperfect but very enjoyable. Make sure you check these out while you are here.
• New Images 29-05-09
• First images