[Over the next few weeks the staff here at Gamerlimit will be sharing their personal favorite game of the past year with the community in build up to Gamer Limit’s Game of the Year Awards for 2010]
When he accepted the Golden Globe for his work on Broken Trail, Robert Duvall asserted that the wild west was a history unique to the United States. As someone born and raised in the states, this idea resonates with me to this day. Like the cougar on John Martston’s back, the wild west is something both majestic and terrifying ever close behind me, defining my existence whether I like it or not.
So not to beleaguer the fact that Red Dead Redemption is a unique game for as many reasons as the wild west is a unique point in time within U.S. history, I’ll let you know how the game defines me as a gamer. Like many of you who played it, I’m a tool of dirty politics, a killer and a legend wrapped into one. Then …
After a few hours of hunting and skinning animals, investigating trails of blood for grieving mothers and bringing justice to outlaws, I found myself feeling something I haven’t felt in a long time when playing a game — a desire to do things right. That is to say, not only did I want to get the good ending, I wanted to get 100% at everything I did. Only that golden Rockstar Games token was good enough for me.
The last time I felt that way was back in the 90′s playing Chrono Trigger. Writing this piece now, I realize the main reason I play RDR like a completionist is because I care deeply for the main character. Unlike Chrono Trigger where I projected my personality on the silent protagonist, I found that Rockstar San Diego did a superb job of projecting unctuous John Marston onto my own character.
How did they do that, you ask?
Sure I like explosions and violence, but, these are not the reasons I feel closely tied to Mr. Marston. It’s his story that captivates me, and his motivations within that story that drive my want to achieve 100%. No other game in my personal gaming history does the same job in making me want for the main character to prevail. Mario’s jumping on Goombas didn’t make me care for him or the princess as characters. Neither did the more recent dysfunctional love affair between Starkiller and Juno (seen in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II).
Take a look at that picture once more. That hard gaze is chiseled with the desire to save his wife and child. That tight grip around the stick of dynamite symbolizes the doom that shall befall anyone who stands in this man’s way. The reason why you feel it more than other games is because of his story. The theme of one man against the madness and chaos of the wild west carries from the first mission to the last through superb dialog and well thought-out scene.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I love story. I can’t help it. Creative Writing was my major in college. I can spin a mean tale myself. Therefore, with the mad hunger for theme and scene and dialog to be in a game, RDR did more than feed me.
Ultimately, Red Dead Redemption lets the world know that stories can be told through video games just as well as any novel. Better than many novels out there today, it lets you get lost in its vastness and makes you feel the madness and pain of the wild west till the very end; and when that end comes, it smacks you with the gravity of a planet.
Then there’s the DLC… and I freakin’ love zombies.