A Point of View
A Point of View
From Here to the Horizon…
From time immemorial, man has liked to look at stuff. Believe it or not, you’re doing it right now! Casting his eyes all over all sort of lovely looking things, Lewis Anderson continues the tradition of looking at things and gives you the incredible opportunity to hear what he thinks about it.
IT’S A fact: nobody likes a cliché. So I’m going to ask you to brace yourself folks, ’cause here comes a real tacky one; Red Dead Redemption is GTA: Wild West. There, I said it, deal with it. Actually that wasn’t too bad was it? I could do with a shower to wash away the dirty feeling but I’ve no urge to throw up. This can only be a good thing.
It’s not hard to see why they call it so though. On the surface it gives you the chance to make the Wild West as wild as you damn well please. My first RDR experience was a classic example of how not to be a Good American: randomly shooting at passers-by, stealing horses from under the noses of their owners and holding up steam trains. In other words, pissing all over the American Dream.
GRAND THEFT EQUESTRIAN
But something felt different, something felt amiss. A crime needs two things: a criminal and a victim. I had the criminal aspect well covered. I was the most rooting-est tooting-est varmint for miles around. Problem was, I felt like I was the only person for miles around too. Victims were a little thin on the ground.
So I rode aimlessly around the starting area, failing miserably as a one man crime wave, before I spied a sun-drenched cliff-top through the trees. Eager for a look, my horse cantered slowly towards it. And suddenly, the foliage unfolded to reveal the whole game-world stretching out into the distance.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience it. The river coursing through the canyon below, glinting in the sunlight. The silhouette of distant rock formations against the sky. The Mexican town sitting astride the cliffs in the distance. A level of detail almost too much for one pair of eyes to take in, something that can only be described as astounding.
RDR is gorgeous. If I was a gambling man, I would bet everything I have on it being the most visually stunning game to date. I dare you to prove me wrong! Show me another game that can interrupt your playing with the distraction of a dramatic sun rise or the chance to witness a pack of coyotes sprinting across a moonlit desert. You can’t!
Perhaps that’s too bold and sweeping a statement. There are plenty of games out there with epic views across vast countrysides. Of the mostrecent, Fallout 3 comes to mind. RDR is undoubtedly graphically superior, but the first time you emerge from the Vault gives you much the same feeling – the sun blinds you momentarily before revealing a massive wasteland with strangely familiar monuments in the distance. It’s an unforgettable, awe-inspiring moment that totally sums up the lonely atmosphere of Fallout.
AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
That sense of distance really helps propel the player into the virtual world. The ability to view the whole landscape and pick out places both visited and unvisited makes for a more authentic atmosphere. Something that’s crucially important for lone-wolf games like F3 and RDR where that genuine feeling of isolation can make the difference between a game being great or just good.
Although lamentably missing in the younger members of the Final Fantasy family, the chance to wander across their various world maps gave you a real sense of the world just through physically travelling over it on the way to your next destination. And similarly again in World of Warcraft – anyone who made the journey from Darkshore to Westfall on foot will understand why it’s called World of Warcraft. And if you haven’t, well, it’s a bloody long way.
Red Dead Redemption perfectly illustrates how cultured the videogame experience is today. Even if the compelling storyline and unrestricted game-play were removed, it would still be considered essential gaming. The landscape and its wildlife illustrate the game world flawlessly and bring an utterly real yet virtual world to your living room. Even though my one man crime wave failed miserably, it failed to the finest of backdrops and there ain’t nothin’ miserable about that.