Officially my favourite game of all time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 November 2018
I don’t quite know where to begin when talking about this game. I was excited for it as soon as it was announced by Rockstar, but nobody, including myself, realised it would be quite this good. Let me start off by saying...this game is a masterpiece, and that word is thrown around a lot - for films, games, albums. But this is as a creative achievement, is truly one of a kind.
The narrative is by far the strongest of Rockstar’s so far, and in my opinion, the history of gaming so far. The cast is huge, going from the Van Der Linde gang to side characters who you meet in the world. Each character is so rich, vibrant and textured that they genuinely feel like real people. For this, you will find yourself investing your emotions in their comings and goings, in their triumphs and downfalls. The story is fierce, with strong themes of loyalty, trust and brotherhood. You see this once dominant gang steadily decay under the boot off the Federal Law, and the multiple challenges that the world sets on them. It is exhilarating and tragic to see them evolve from optimistic outlaws to broken individuals hoping for a better life for themselves. It is by far the longest story mode I have ever played. Doing only side quests and stranger missions, I am over 80 hours in. Missions are versatile, ranging from action-packed bank robberies to more subtle objectives such as fishing or heading to one of the many towns to interact with the locals. They enhance the sense of character and realism in this world, immersing you into feeling beyond a mere player holding a controller. I never thought that a game would be able to surpass the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt or BioShock in terms of storytelling, but Rockstar have made RDR 2 slow-paced, but thoughtful, mature rather than guns blazing 24/7. Each set piece is masterful, paying homage to classic Sergio Leonne Western films. The dialogue between characters is believable, and some of the one liners are to die for. I would also like to take this opportunity to warn readers that other reviews have story spoilers, as does YouTube sites and social media; browse at your own risk!!!
The world itself is vast, being substantially larger than the original (even though it features the top half of the first game, anyway). It varies from alligator-invested swamps to open plains, from an industrialised city to farming commutnies, from mountain peaks to snow-carpeted wilderness; in terms of location, this game simply has it all. And the story takes you to a large amount of the map in an organic way, which is not only relevant to the story, but also gives you a chance to explore different areas out of your own leisure. The light effects are beautiful, especially when the dying light of sundown dapples through the arms of trees. The sound effects add to the immersive world too, with crisp sound quality that makes it again seem more than a video game. Rockstar’s attention to detail is the greatest achievement in video game history as of so far. Even rockstar themselves may not be able to surpass what they have achieved with this game. I play on an Xbox one X and on a 4K TV, and in Native 4K, this game is beyond stunning. Many times (more than I dare to admit), I was staring out into the game’s world in awe. I was simply left with pure wonder at how a game could look, feel and sound so real. NPCs will carry on with whatever they’re doing or saying whether you’re there to witness it or not. Encounters happen frequently, meaning long horse journeys to and from locations are not mundane or lacking excitement. Rival gangs will ambush you or be up to no good within your proximity. Citizens will ask for your help or try to rob you. So much can happen that you almost can never predict when something will; that’s what keeps it fresh after countless hours of play.
In this world there is also so much to do and engage with, from hunting to treasure hunting, to bounty hunting and completing challenges. Even when the story is over with, I guarantee you will not be left with little to do. there are over 200 species of wildlife, and if you’re like me (being a completionist and wildlife nerd), you’ll have many hours of fun just from studying or hunting wildlife. Many upgrades can be made either to the main camp or to your inventory layout, meaning there is almost always something to strive for, whether it is to earn money, or to complete a specific challenge.
I’ve rambled on enough and no words will ever be able to fully explain the pure epicness of this game. You have to just play it and find out for yourself. I went to the midnight launch and do not regret it, nor the many many hours I have put into it. Drawing close to the conclusion, I know it will be hard to leave once it’s over. Arthur Morgan is my favourite video game character now.
A masterpiece in virtually every aspect. If you enjoyed the first game, you NEED to experience this. It ties in the first game with this one extremely well and in an organic manner. You will not be disappointed. Forget online games; this game will be the main talk of this year, and for a very long time no doubt.
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