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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2: first impressions of the biggest video game release of 2018

Be ready to immerse yourself for dozens of hours

Red Dead Redemption 2 has had gamers excited for some time. Courtesy Rockstar Games
Red Dead Redemption 2 has had gamers excited for some time. Courtesy Rockstar Games

The most anticipated videogame title of the year is now out, and gamers around the world are trawling their way through the epic world of Red Dead Redemption 2.

I was somewhat late to the first Red Dead Redemption, playing it about a year after its release. Undoubtedly, it became my favourite gaming experience - roaming the Wild West in pursuit of justice, honour and revenge was a noble undertaking and I enjoyed every second of it.

With the sequel, there was a sense of trepidation. Would I enjoy it as much, and would I ever get to experience the end? I needn’t have worried, because despite the beautiful storytelling elements and various interesting characters you come across, the true experience of the game comes in the form of being free - doing side quests and encountering strangers, going hunting or fishing, or even playing dominoes. The wide and wild world of the American west at the turn of the 20th century is incredibly satisfying.

What is the game about?

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sequel to Red Dead Redemption, which came out in 2010. Although a prequel of the storyline in the first game, it is a step above in terms of graphics, sandbox capabilities and task complexities. Set in 1899 during the waning days of an American west dominated by cowboys, bandits and snake oil merchants, the game sees you control Arthur Morgan, a gang member who is neither good nor bad. The choices you make with Arthur will determine his character type and whether or not he is benevolent or malevolent.

How long is the game?

A week on, and playing for two to three hours at a time, I have only scraped the surface. In terms of story progression, I have only achieved 15 per cent, which you wouldn’t know until you checked the statistics menu. Being sidetracked by chance encounters on the way to a bank heist might be described as distracting, but with Red Dead Redemption 2 you welcome it because you know it won’t be a boring drudge.

According to various sources online, the consensus seems to be the game takes 45 to 50 hours to complete, which is a massive upgrade to the first game’s 15-hour completion time.

Game of the year?

It would be wholly unfair to start throwing accolades around such as best game of the year (perhaps even the century) as it’s still a little too early for that. It's certainly a strong contender though, as every minute spent playing as outlaw Arthur Morgan is unforgettable. From doing menial tasks like shaving, and eating to maintain strength, all the way to elaborate challenges like searching for old flames, the human element is present.

A common thread among friends who are also making their way through the game is the lack of a need to hurry through the story. In a world today where online gaming rules all, to see a game give the chance to revert to long campaign modes is quite an achievement, and shows how strong story-driven games still are.

For those who do decide to begin what is a major quest (compared to other games), be prepared to put in some commitment, and know that your horse is awaiting his grooming and patting while you go on with your daily life.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is rated 21 and older and is available at all major game retailers in the UAE

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