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Letters from the Front

RDR2_Screenshot 216 (1)

( Editor’s note: This is the last post for 2018. The Spiderman review has been pushed back to next month. Have a great holiday and a happy New Year.)

Red Dead Redemption II is a western for the ages.

If you have already played the original Red Dead Redemption, you may know how this story ends and it ends tragically but you don’t know the beginning.

Red Dead Redemption II begins 9 years before the beginning of John Marston’s journey back to West Elizabeth in 1911. Red Dead Redemption II begins at the turn of the century, at the dawn of the 20th century, in 1899 and tells the story of the Van Der Lind gang and their exploits across the West at a point in history when the West is beginning to pass into legend.

This world is one of violence and is defined by it. Bandits roam the dirt roads, predators hunt their prey, and the men of industry don’t blink twice when stepping over the poor as they push a relatively new country into a new century. In this land of what seems to be filled with unlimited freedom, the Van Der Lind gang feels right at home.

Led by Dutch van der Linde, this gang isn’t like the rest of the outlaws. They don’t think themselves as part of the problem but part of the solution. They support each other, rob from the rich and give to the poor and share the goal of getting to a place that is far and get away from society and the problems that it brings but things are changing. As a new century begins and the West begins to fade into myth and civilization is rapidly approaching from places like Philadelphia and Boston, their particular lifestyle is rapidly speeding towards extinction. 

Standing in the center of this story is Arthur Morgan, Dutch’s right hand man. His exterior paints a man that is scary and tough but his interior paints a completely different picture. He is a reflective man and is struggling to continue with this lifestyle and is struggling with his morality. He feels right at home with thieves, crooks, murderers, and the usual ne’er-do-wells but you can tell that he wants out as he is beginning to see that this way of life is pretty much over. He begins to contemplates the real cost of this sort of life. You can choose how his story ends, but regardless of your decisions, his struggle is at the heart of this epic tale. 

Red Dead Redemption II is Rockstar’s greatest game yet. This is the biggest adventure ever created by Rockstar themselves, it is rare to find a game that has all three pillars and each pillar comes together to form a cohesive game that not only is one of the best works that Rockstar Games has ever created but is the next step in gaming and the next step in Open World games. This game is the future. 

 By the end of the 80 hour campaign, you’ll have played the men of industry, executed jailbreaks, robbed banks both small town and big cities, clashed with the beginnings of organized crime, and much more across a vast land that encompasses parts of the Wild West to territory west of the Mississippi in an intriguing and a well-crafted story that Rockstar has ever served.

As the gang is chased across each county in each region by gangs that have been employed by the government and chased by the Pinkerton Agency, Rockstar crafts something something quite special here. In the quiet moments of the game, which I wish there was more of, you get to know each of the characters including John Marston and Abigail Marston, a former prostitute that has now settled down with John. Each member brings something unique and each are likable, including Uncle himself, and it pains you to see them leave as they’re starting to realize that this lifestyle is practically over with. 

The gameplay falls into the usual Rockstar tradition. The gunplay is okay at best and the controls are wonky as hell and it isn’t until 80 hours in that the control scheme changes to something more traditional. Rockstar have always done good stories and build awesome worlds but the gameplay and controls always falter which is a shame.  Anyways, the story, the characters, and the world is at the center of this epic tale of American life on the final frontier.

The open world is unequivocally the most well-crafted and fully realized open world in the medium of videogames. The attention to detail is insane and pushes you into an era that has long been forgotten. The expanses of wilderness come alive with a dynamic weather system, the most ambitious ecology of animals and flowers, and each store’s interior and exterior look authentic to the era. You can spend hours and hours just exploring the varied terrain and entering cities and small town cities on the frontier and Rockstar packs all of this with interesting side quests and side characters.

Many of the big cities and towns have their own personality and character with Saint Denis taking the jewel. Saint Denis represents the future of America; it is filled with factories, technology, and things to do as opposed to the wilderness. You can take in a vaudevillian show from the East to meeting new and interesting strangers like a French artist in a bar. There are plenty of things to do as you go through the story. 

 Since Grand Theft Auto V five years ago, Rockstar Games has returned and outdid themselves. Red Dead Redemption II is the greatest game they have ever put out; Red Dead Redemption II is a compelling companion story and blends directly into the original game. The depth of the world, the compelling characters, and the technical triumph that Rockstar Games achieved with Red Dead Redemption II ends up being one of the greatest videogames ever created and is one that every single gamer on this earth should experience.


Rockstar Games has once again redefined the open world genre and redefined videogames forever. Red Dead Redemption II is the gold standard for open world videogames and gaming as a whole, every gamer should experience this. Bravo, Rockstar. Bravo.


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