Posts tagged red dead redemption
Eleven hours since I saw the end credits and no sign of me getting bored yet. I have, however, given up on finding the “California” stranger mission for a while. I need to complete it for an outfit, but I’ve searched the big purple circle on the map for a couple of hours without finding any sign of the stranger, so I’ll come back later. I’ve switched to another outfit (when I’m not helping out random people or dueling) so next time I play I’m going to have to search Thieves Landing for a chest containing a scrap of cloth. That’s not going to take ages. The weird thing is, though, that I’m really looking forward to it.
I found Merle wandering round Mexico, so I caught and tamed him again. I then traded him to a horrible man in exchange for someone’s freedom, then stole him back… and then watched him crumple to the ground when attacked by a cougar. Argh!
On the plus side, I’ve now completed the “kill two cougars with a knife” challenge.
Yes, I’ve finished the story, but I’m still playing.
Last night was pretty wonderful for the three hours or so I played. I collected some plants, saved some helpless people, played horseshoes and took part in some epic shootouts. A couple more achievements – for getting lots of money and doing some hideouts.
I’m already starting to be a bit of a naughty boy, though. I started a couple of bar fights (and ended one of them by pulling out my rifle and splattering brains across the ceiling of the Armadillo saloon). I shot a dog and a pig, just to work towards the “kill one of every animal” achievement. Worst of all, I shot a train driver and then heard screams as people left the train to see what was going on and got attacked by wolves.
It doesn’t matter, though. I’ve got my bandana on, so I’m not losing any honour. That makes everything okay, right? Right?
So, last night I saw the credits roll on what has to be one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. I got to the end without spoilers and I urge you to do the same. Knowing what’s coming would be absolutely ruinous.
With that in mind, if you’ve not finished the story and seen the credits then do not read any further. Please. Don’t do it to yourself.
HERE BE SPOILERS. TURN BACK. NOW.
No, really, go away.
ONCE MORE. HERE BE SPOILERS. TURN BACK. NOW.
So, you watch Dutch fall to his death and it’s time to go home. And it’s idyllic. You can see why John fell in love with Abigail and your son Jack is as whiny and full of himself as a teenage boy should be, but you sense that he’s got real potential. You herd cattle, tame horses and take your boy out shooting. And, of course, you know it can’t last.
But what’s going to happen? The ranch is set up so that at some point it might have activities. Maybe it’ll have infinite taming and herding missions. Is someone going to set themselves up by the horseshoes so you can play? Maybe this will become a happy, working ranch, a home to come back to after going off to hunt cougar or pick flowers.
Maybe. But it even if it does, there’s going to be blood spilled on the grass before you get there. You know it can’t last. And, if you’re like me, you’re dreading a mission where John goes out on his own, because of what he might find on his return.
None of that happens, though. They come to you. Dozens of men in army uniform. Are your wife and son going to survive? Even as it started, I didn’t expect what was coming. I mean, it’s an open-world game. Threads are left dangling – strangers, ambient challenges, all the extras of the game world.
And then John’s in the barn with a firing squad of sorts lined up outside. And then you realise. There’s no way you can take them all. You try – I think I dropped four of them before they got me – and you fail and John slumps to the ground. And suddenly you’re Jack, on a horse, riding back to your father. There he is, on the ground, looking as dead as it gets.
Still, though, you expect him to cough up some blood and wake up in his bed. But no. This game has had the audacity to kill John Marston – to kill you. That doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen.
But it did. And now it’s three years later and you’re Jack. You’re alone. The ranch isn’t populated by farmhands and cowboys. It’s just you, still sleeping in your childhood bed, though you’re no longer a child. What are you to do?
You’ve got revenge on your mind, but there’s no mission marker. It’s just you and the world.
I went to the graveyard near Blackwater to finish of a stranger storyline. Three years later and a widow is still by her husband’s grave, still mourning, still bitter. Nearby, I see a new stranger marker. A government man; I ask him about Edgar Ross. I have a lead.
And I ride.
I ride west. Which seems appropriate.
I find his wife. She sends me on my way. I let her live.
I find his brother. He sends me on my way. I let him live, too.
These are the sins of Edgar Ross, not the sins of his wife, not the sins of his brother.
And there he is, hunting duck by the river. Four bullers in his arm – and I hope he feels them before the final two bullets hit him in the head. He slips into the river, quite dead.
There I am, wearing my father’s old hat and duster coat, standing by a river in Mexico as the man who, more than anyone, is to blame for my father’s death lies there turning the water red.
Do I feel empty? Hell no. This revenge feels very, very good. And then the screen goes red and white, the words RED DEAD REDEMPTION are stamped on it and the credits roll. Immense satisfaction, but also a great sense of loss. Not only for John Marston, who I spent fifty hours with, but for the game. It’s the same feeling as you get when you finish a great book. You don’t want it to go on any longer, because it’s complete and it works and that’s the fucking story, but now it’s gone.
And doing it over again is possible, but wouldn’t be the same.
So, really though, what now? There’s a whole world out there. I’ve got challenges to complete and outfits to find and achievements to get there’s a number in the eighties that I have a real shot of getting up to one hundred.
But, no, more than that – who is Jack Marston? That’s what I get to decide. Is he ruined beyond redemption? Am I the man my father wanted to be or the man my experiences made? Outlaw or hero? Murderer or killer? (As John says shortly before he dies, there’s a difference. At least in intention.)
Now I get to choose. Online, I’ve seen a lot of people who played a “good” John Marston are playing an “evil” Jack. And I see the attraction. Free of cutscenes telling me who I am and pushing me in one direction, I now get to do whatever the hell I want. The world’s a playground and maybe I just want to shoot everyone.
I think that would be fun, to be the black hat. To put on my bandana and kill and kill and kill again with no remorse and a stack of pardon letters in my pocket.
Here’s where things get strange. It’s a game. Just a simple old game world with clear rules and boundaries and consequences. None of it matters. The story’s over and it’s a playground.
But I don’t think I can do it. I don’t think I can turn cold-blooded killer of the innocent. Not because of who I am, the big beardy fellow with an Xbox controller, but because I know what John wanted. He wanted his son to be better than him. And if I turn Jack into the scourge of the west, am I not betraying his memory? I feel like I have a responsibility to John Marston. We went through a lot together to save his son and, well, I guess I need to see him saved.
Let’s see what happens, though. I’m still in the shock of the endgame. In a few days maybe the feelings will fade and the bullets will fly into the heads of shopkeepers and farmers. We’ll just have to see.
SPOILERS ABOVE. IF FOR SOME BIZARRE REASON YOU’RE SCROLLING UPWARDS DO NOT READ THIS POST UNTIL YOU’VE SEEN THE CREDITS ROLL AT THE END OF RED DEAD REDEMPTION.
I love this game so much. It even looks beautiful in blurry shots taken with my iPhone off the telly screen.
I thought I’d finish the game last night, but there’s a lot more to it than I thought. I won’t say anything else right now, because I don’t want to prejudice your experience – or to encourage comments that may spoil things for me.
Expect a huge, emotional, spoiler-heavy post when I do get to the end of the story, though.
Hunting last night. Lots and lots of hunting. I needed beaver and boar and I eventually got everything I needed. Then I shot some birds and collected some Red Sage and made my way back to Mexico to give them all to chap who’s probably going to kill himself with them.
A pretty quiet night, really, but throughly absorbing.
Had over an hour to play this last night – bliss! I mainly went around picking flowers, partly to complete survivalist challenges and partly so Billy could give them to his lovely wife Annabel. It’s lovely to see a couple so in love after so many years of marriage.
I also persuaded a man not to have relations with a prostitute, met up with the would-be movie mogul from earlier in the game, shot several people who deserved it (and at least one who didn’t) and got killed by bears.
Oh, and I’ve got a new way of dealing with those women who try to lure me into ambushes. Once I’ve dispatched the lurking men, I hogtie the lady, put her on my horse and then dump her on the floor of the nearest brothel. (I may or may not shout “Whore delivery!” as I do so. Let’s say I don’t, because this is worrying enough already, psychologically speaking.) Now, I assume they won’t force her to work there, in fact I reckon they’ll cut her loose, give her something to drink and send her on her way, but I reckon it’s a humiliating enough experience to pay her back for trying to get me killed. And it’s nicer than than leaving her tied up on the train tracks. (That gets very messy indeed.)
Next time I play I think I’ll be on the hunt for beaver. And boars. Luckily, they seem to be in the same rough location. Unluckily, I think it might be bear country.
Things you can do when you only have half an hour to play Red Dead Redemption at the end of the day:
Kill a horse thief, then run over the horse’s owner by galloping back to them at full speed.
Kill a coach thief, then destroy the coach by riding over a rock at full speed while trying to return it to its owner.
Drink some whisky.
Find the last two treasures to earn the rank of legendary treasure hunter.
Stop and admire the beauty of the snowy woodland spread out below you.
Get killed by bears. A lot.
It sounds like a lot, but it was the quickest half hour of my life. I’m a bit sad that I’ve completed all the treasure maps now. It’s pretty much impossible to pick out a favourite element of a game this big and wonderful, but if I had to, it might be them. I love that you actually have to use your brain and eyes to find the treasures, rather than just following blobs on a map.
Okay, this post might have a few too many spoilers for those of a sensitive nature, but I’ll try to keep things general where possible. If you want to play the game unsullied, best look away now, though.
So, my Mexican adventures came to an end. I’m sure I’ll be back later on – there’s a chap down there who needs me to deliver some beaver at some point – but right now I’m up north in the town of Blackwater. Awfully unsettling experience, riding into that town. After the emptiness of Mexico and New Austin, it feels claustrophobic and far too modern. More than that, though, I feel out of place. Even after changing out of my bandito outfit and going back to my duster, I don’t feel right. I’m not built for the city, even one of only a few blocks. And it doesn’t help that the townspeople know who I am and warn me to keep myself under control as I walk around. I couldn’t even find anywhere to hitch my horse outside the saloon. It’s rare that a game unsettles me so deeply. Certainly a huge achievement, but not an especially pleasant one.
On a technical note, the game’s been getting buggier and buggier. Nothing too major, but I did need to restart the game entirely at one point after a stagecoach I needed to drive refused to move, even after restarting the entire mission. And then after an epic, game-changing mission the game stopped doing anything for about three minutes until another cut scene suddenly kicked in. Strange that the problems have been with the story missions – in a game like this I’d have thought they’d be the most likely parts to work properly.
Two things have killed me in Red Dead Redemption: animals and stupidity.
You see, if you keep your wits about you, people aren’t a problem. Peasants with guns, mostly. Use Dead Eye mode correctly, stay in cover, look for smoke and muzzle flashes and use the terrain to your advantage – do all that you won’t die. You’ll only be killed by gunfire if you run into crossfire with an empty Dead Eye meter, or if you fail to spot where bad guys are hiding. (Or, sometimes, if you go into a big, important mission without stocking up on medicine first. That definitely counts as stupidity.) Gun fights with armed humans are exciting, satisfyingly brutal and often make you feel like the coolest badass in the world, but they’re never very difficult if you’re sensible and keep your head. (Though that is, as you might expect, easier said than done in the heat of the moment.)
It’s the animals that are really dangerous. Out in the desert at night packs of wolves come out of nowhere. Cougars can pounce without warning, bringing down your horse and, if you don’t react quickly enough, you too. When you’re out, alone except for your horse, you’re very vulnerable indeed – especially at night. There’s nothing in the game that hurts worse than seeing your horse crumple to the ground when attacked by a wild animal. (Except, of course, when your horse gets hit by a bullet due to your own greed and stupidity, but we talked about that a few days ago.)
On the upside, at least when you do see off a pack of wolves you can skin them and take their hearts. That’s a pretty good way to get revenge, if anything is.