No company is better at world design than Rockstar. In GTA4 they built a living, breathing city that acted and and reacted in ways that no other game world has come close to rivaling. With their latest title, Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar has raised the bar once more.
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Today at PAX I was fortunate enough to play through a mission of RDR. I started out in the desert, surrounded by beautifully rendered cacti, canyons, and scrub brush. Armadillos and deer and all manner of little critters populate the lands. You can interact with everything; I was even able to shoot birds out of the sky.
RDR gets horseback riding right. If you push your mount too hard, he will buck you off his back. If you run him towards a canyon, he will veer away and refuse to move. You can stable multiple horses (24 was the number I heard) in order to ensure yourself a 'custom ride' at all times. The fellow running my demo even told me it was possible to tame wild stallions.
Where RDR truly shines are the gunfights. The weapon details are perfect, right down to the sound of your Winchester's action. The control scheme takes a little getting used to, but once you've got it down the battles have a seamless, fluid quality that I have never experienced before. This game plays exactly like Tombstone looks.
You can shoot from horseback, slow time and queue up multiple shots, and aim at any point in the body you wish. Blow out an opponent's knee cap and he will drop to the ground, shoot his mount and he'll go flying! The damage physics are beyond perfect. All of the weapons can be used at point-blank range for a special, terrifyingly brutal attack. My favorite? The double-barreled shotgun.
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Red Dead Redemption is a must play. The graphics and combat options (you can LASSO people and pull them off their horses!) are second to none. When this baby launches on May 18, you can bet I'll be first in line.