You’ve probably played Red Dead Redemption by now. Personally, I think it’s in every sense a better title than GTA IV, yet didn’t manage to garner the same kind of hype. If you’ve not played it before, now is the perfect time to try, with this Game of the Year edition having just been released. Far from being a carbon copy of the original release, this package has a wealth of add ons that have been delivered via DLC since its release.
But let’s deal with the original game first. It’s a sandbox title with a bit of a difference in that it’s set in the tail end of the Wild West era. You play as John Marston, who is sent, under threat, to bring the rule of law to the West. Primarily, this differs to most other sandbox titles in that it’s not cities you’re roaming around in, but desolate plains, small hamlets and ramshackle towns. Without going into too much depth, for the benefit of those who just want to know about the GOTY edition, the standalone game is a refreshing take on the genre, if nothing else because of the difference in locales and technology. Sure, much of the gameplay is similar to GTA, but that’s no bad thing. The story, for my tastes at least, is far more enjoyable, and takes you to a more interesting place than most of the sandbox titles I’ve played. In all, the original game is a genuinely enjoyable story delivered in a tried-and-tested format.
As for the new stuff, well you can’t really argue with the sheer quantity of game that has been added. Sure, many might see the collection as somewhat cynical, and that was my original take on it. However, the additions made are not simply more of the same. Take the Undead Nightmare pack, to start. Not only does it change the whole feel of the game, but it adds a survival horror aspect to things. Limited ammo, and zombies that can only be killed with headshots make for a completely different game experience. Gone are the honour-based gameplay choices, and the realism of the main story, to be replaced with an entirely different endeavour. You still have an objective: to find and eradicate the plague of undead, but it’s shifts the gameplay just enough to make you feel as if you’re playing a different game.
Then there’s the meaty array of multiplayer additions that come with the Legends and Killers pack. While I suspect Rockstar itself would concede that they are not the most proficient developer in terms of multiplayer, there’s enough play here to overshadow the number of glitches, balance issues and clumsy control niggles. Offering a number of competitive maps over the meagre few that were offered previously, this doesn’t class as a must-have, but it’s a great inclusion for the GOTY edition.
What’s nice about the multiplayer mode is that it really does feel as if it’s been designed with a degree of thought. It would have been so easy for Rockstar to have just thrown together a bunch of familiar elements of the game in familiar-looking surroundings, but that isn’t the case. It won’t keep you engaged as long as some other, more professional multiplayer efforts, but again, it makes this a really good value package. What’s more, with the GOTY edition coming out, you’ll see a fair few people online, and your friends who have already got the multiplayer maps can’t really call themselves friends if they don’t indulge you for an evening.
Then there are the co-op elements, such as Outlaws to the End. It’s nothing that will draw you back to replay it, but as single-shot co-op mission, they’re perfectly enjoyable. As a free piece of DLC, you can’t really include this in the value of the GOTY edition, but it’s worthy of note, as it again adds more facets to an already expansive title. There are plenty of suggestions one can make to better this piece of DLC, but in honesty, it’s unnecessary; by the time you get around to playing the co-op missions, you’ll probably be so tired of shooting cowboys, it will have lost its magic somewhat.
And there’s a whole bunch more. PS3 exclusives wangle their way in, with Solomon’s Folly and every bit of pre-order DLC created for the game. In all, it’s an exemplary package that anyone without the release version should play. It has it’s problems, sure, but then with this many extra goodies, that’s pretty easy to overlook.
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