Red Dead Redemption Review
Don't simply write-off Red Dead Redemption as a Grand Theft Auto game with a Western skin. If you loved everything about GTA and were hoping for more of the same, you probably won't get what you expected. On the other hand if you never liked GTA, you may very well miss out on something that you'll enjoy immensely. Red Dead Redemption is its own game, and the only real thing it shares with its modern urban cousin is its open world and incredible amount of gameplay.
In Red Dead Redemption you walk in the boots of one John Marston, a former outlaw and cold-blooded killer now working for the government. You've arrived in the western state of New Austin (all of the place names in the game are fictional in keeping with the GTA tradition, but the game is basically set in an environment that resembles West Texas along the Rio Grande) with the goal of bringing some of your former gang mates to justice. Although it's 1911 and the glory days of the West are coming to an end, New Austin is still very much a near lawless frontier where good folk must contend with bandits, outlaws, and other ruffians in addition to the challenges inherent in frontier life.
While your ultimate goal is to bring outlaw gangs to justice, how you go about that is mostly up to you. This is the game's major departure point from the Grand Theft Auto series; in the GTA games you're always a criminal and you always work outside the law, but in Red Dead Redemption you have a choice. You can track down an outlaw, lasso and hogtie him, and then take him back to town to face justice, or you can steal a horse to ride to his hideout and then put a bullet in his head. You can meet the challenge of a duel by embarrassing your opponent by shooting the gun out of his hand and the hat off of his hear, or you can fill him full of lead. You can help out a lady being roughed up by an outlaw in town, or ignore her pleas as you find someone to gun down to get some poker playing money and then try to cheat the other players out of their money. Red Dead Redemption gives you the option of wearing a white or black hat.
The game tracks the path you choose through fame and honor. Fame is a measure of how well known you around New Austin and pretty much everything you do related to the game's story missions and random encounters will increase your fame. Honor will reflect the choices you've made – steal a horse and your honor goes down, lasso a thief trying to make his getaway and your honor goes up. If your honor is high, townspeople will greet you with respect, shopkeepers will give you discounted prices, and law enforcement will tend to look the other way when you do do something questionable. If your honor is low, townspeople will cower in fear, law enforcement will shoot you on sight, and bounty hunters will come gunning for you.