Open world games are something I’ve always gravitated towards. Having a fully interactive environment that I can manipulate and explore at my leisure is such a liberating prospect. An open world denotes longevity, conveys a sense of scale and quality, which is essential for me if I want to get my moneys worth. Not that linear games are without substance or quality, but a game with a broader surrounding is a much more reliable investment. I’ve scoured the “Oblivion” plains. Cruised the roads of “Need For Speed: Most Wanted”. Pillaged the tombs of Skyrim. And mowed down the inhabitants of Vice City with a levitating tank. Of course without an equivalent story and gameplay, being able to explore an expansive terrain with any satisfaction is futile. But sometimes, even with the right components and expert alchemists blending, the resulting concotion can be somewhat ambivalent. For me the one game that applies to is Red Dead Redemption 2.
I really do admire this game greatly. Red Dead 2 is gorgeous, with a profoundly reviting narrative about the decline of traditional “Wild West” ideologies and dealing with the intruding escalation of civilised society. Yet, for some reason the overarching narrative becomes a little dry. Mirred in tedium and slow yet methodical progression of the campaign, that is admittedly intricate. Consorting with the Van Der Linde gang–whom are complicated and numerable, but largely unremarkable. Not to mention the fully actualized world that’s breadth and depth can only be matched by its detail and beauty. But is ultimately devoid of charm and is frankly a desolate place to occupy when not in the smattering of towns or settlements. The missions themselves feel perfunctory, trivial little pursuits that act as tutorials to exhibit the imposing world, as apposed to errands that benefit the characters motivations or the players genuine experience. The realistic overtures of the setting extols a particularly authentic sensation that I don’t always believe compliments the simulated fantasy of a game. Watching your horse galloping through camp, injuring occupants during a cutscene is hardly in keeping with the games rooted realism. But my biggest discrepancy can partially be attributed to the games lead protagonist, Arthur Morgan.
RockStar have prominently featured character’s that are morally contradictory. Protagonists that demonstrate great loyalty to friends and family, convey respect or compassion to those they’ve built a repour with and even demonstrate a tremendous kindness to strangers. But by the same measure are also capable of immense cruelty, violence and seemingly lack any moral fortitude. That somehow the former caring intermissions negates the latter masochistic tendancies, demonstrating the complicated duality of man is a rather predictable troupe. Are they good people doing bad things, or bad people doing good things? Frankly, who cares. Personally Arther Morgan plays like a side character that has been elevated above a far more interesting group of settlers. It’s baffling to me that a game that features John Marston so prominently in the background, a man that gained notoriety during these formative years and eventually earned penance for his crimes isn’t the central character here? (From the start I mean). To experience his infamous exploits that ultimately leads him to his eventual redemption seems like a missed opportunity to me.
No doubt this elaborate speech is going to antagonise a lot of fans, particularly as this concerns the single player experience, not the woefully dull online strap-on! Many of whom will be quick, yet articulate to rebuke my rather glib surmise as ignorant, stupid, misguided or just plain wrong! And I won’t fault you for it. I’m fully aware that Red Dead Redemption 2 is perceived as an incomparable triumph of visuals and storytelling that only Citizen Kane can emulate. But for some reason Red Dead 2 just didn’t click for. My lose I guess.