Red Dead Redemption and Just Cause 2 Review

I bought myself a few new games recently and as some people have said they find my reviews a touch on the long side, this time I’m trying something a little different. So please enjoy some slighter shorter reviews of not just one but two games.

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption is a game published by makers of the GTA series Rockstar Studios, with Red Dead being the game the team worked on between GTV IV and V. The story is set in the American Old West as you play as John Marston a man betrayed and forced to work for the US government. It is an open world game unsurprisingly reminiscent of the GTA franchise, you’ll even come across a couple of mechanics that would go onto appear in GTV V.

Speaking of mechanics, being set in the Wild West means there’s a few things to get used to, mainly riding a horse. You soon pick it up and but it takes some practice, you can’t just hold down or hammer a button, over work your horse and it’ll throw you off. I approve of Rockstar’s choice to implement a fast travel feature as unlike driving in GTA riding a horse a long distance in Red Dead can become a touch boring.

However one mechanic I’m less happy with is that of the cattle herding, now this is something you have to do about 4-5 times in the entire story, but the problem is the AI for the cows is almost too good, despite you’re best efforts they always wander off. While this was now doubt put it to improve the Wild West feel of the game it never sat well with me as it took longer than it should to complete and somewhat broke the flow of the game. This is certainly an action game, if you go straight to one mission to the next you’ll discover Red Dead to be a fast paced and thrilling adventure.

One of the stand-out features of this game however links back to something I mentioned in my Assassins Creed: Black Flag review: it’s incredibly immersive, when you’re riding around on a horse and stumble across an abandoned town you genuinely start to feel like a bit of a cowboy. Frankly that’s one of the best things a game can do, instead of feeling like you’re disconnected from the world and pressing buttons you actually feel like you’re part of that world.

Now I know some of you might be thinking, this sounds a lot like a GTA game with a Wild West skin placed on top. That’s not the case, the two series are very distinct from one another, Red Dead leans more toward exploration than the ability to cause chaos. Secondly you should remember that both games are made by the same company using the same engine so of course they’ll be a little bit of crossover between the two. If you still think it is the case then I ask you this, is that so bad? Red Dead Redemption is of the same level of quality and polish as a GTA game and yet is just a little bit of something different and I think that’s some good praise for a game to receive.

They may have only strayed a little from their comfort zone but Rockstar have proved they aren’t just a one trick pony, if you’re done with GTA but want a game of a similar standard and gameplay you can jump right into, look no further than Red Dead Redemption.

Score: 70/100

Just Cause 2

In the last few years gaming has been doing it hardest to improve its image in the eyes of the world, giving us games with deep and meaningful stories such as the The Last of Us. Now this is something I completely approve of, however most if not all gamers deep down also have a desire to just have fun and mess around and this is where Just Cause 2 comes in.

The game’ story (if you can call it one) revolves around Rico Rodriguez an agent working for ‘The Agency’ he must travel to the fictional South Eastern Asian island of Panau to overthrow its dictator. That it really about it, but this is not a game you go into for its story, even the developers seem to be aware of this as in the game only the first two missions are compulsory, everything else is entirely optional. Speaking of missions there’s a fair few of them but they aren’t mind-blowing and become repetitive very fast, usually centred around destroy this area or assassinate this person.

Perhaps one of the most interesting mechanics this game has to offer is the combination of the parachute and grappling hook you are equipped with. Not only can the grappling hook be used as both a short and long range weapon, allowing you to yank snipers out of their nests from a distance, a surprisingly satisfying thing. You can also use it to climb buildings and using the parachute as well the hook becomes a slingshot of shorts allowing you a whole new way to travel long distances. Inside these features lies the true heart of this game, something which some games have forgotten: have fun doing crazy things. The ability to tether two objects together allows you to do whatever you want. Can I attach a 4X4 to a 747 yes you can, can I then jump out of the plane and attach myself to the 4X4 in mid-air, YES you actually can.

As someone who’s played and enjoyed GTA V I’d begun to wonder if I’d got everything out of the whole, ‘here’s an open world do what you like’ experience. But I was wrong, fundamentally GTA’s world revolves around the story and its characters whereas Just Cause 2 revolves around causing chaos, that’s even the aim, you need to cause chaos by destroying stuff to unlock later missions. That’s what makes it so enjoyable, like I said I enjoy getting lost in a game’s story but every so often is nice not to be tied down to a story and have freedom to do as you like.

I feel I must mention this game has a few rough edges, it’s one of the most glitchy games I’ve played in a while with a few leading me to have to restart the system and lose progress. The second big rough edge, the driving. With games like these driving is very much not the main point of the game so you’re never going to get Gran Turismo levels of quality. But this is somewhat below my expectations, the steering is almost completely unresponsive at speed and due to some slightly wonky physics hard braking can launch the car into a roll. Admittedly most of the time this makes the game more entertaining, however the few missions where driving is key it does begin to become a greater issue.

Let my end by saying, despite what sounds like an overly negative review, I don’t think this is a bad game it just perhaps lacks the polish of big games like Red Dead Redemption and Tomb Raider. Thankfully as this game is a few years old it can now be picked up used for around a 1/3 its original price, and I think that makes it good value.

It may not be up there with the AAA games in terms of quality, but if you go into Just Cause 2 expecting a fun and crazy world with limitless options, it’ll pay you back a hundred times over.

Score: 53/100

 

Well that’s that, hopefully my next review will be Batman: Arkham City not sure when that’ll be up so just follow me on Twitter to keep up to date with all my articles. (@AnotherGmgBlog)

Feedback is welcomed concerning the new review format, would you like me to go back to long reviews or do you prefer shorter ones?

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