Rockstar Games’ 2018 Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time. Only a handful of titles have managed to tear me up like Arthur Morgan’s Saga. So when Rockstar Games, on very short notice, announced that Red Dead Redemption is coming to ‘modern consoles’ like the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, I was overjoyed.
But my utter excitement came to a grueling halt when I got to know that this Red Dead port was neither a remake nor a remaster. The thought of having a 30 FPS lock sounded like a huge bummer. It sure has triggered a lot of fans and media, which is reasonable considering Rockstar’s impeccable standards (minus the GTA Trilogy remaster debacle).
Nevertheless, unlike many, I decided to undertake this endeavor of experiencing John Marston’s harrowing journey since I never had the chance to experience it on PlayStation 3 or Xbox consoles while keeping my expectations in check. And oh boy, I was not ready for what this game was going to throw at me.
The Outlaw’s Return
Set in 1912, Red Dead Redemption takes place a few years after the events of Red Dead 2. You play as John Marston, an ex-outlaw turned bounty hunter forced to hunt down his old gang of outlaws to avert the great harm that will befall his family. Trapped in his past life’s repercussions, John finds warmth in the care of Bonnie MacFarlane, a rancher who rescues him after being nearly shot to death by his old partner in crime Bill Williamson.
From MarFarlane’s Ranch to John’s home at Beecher’s Creek, RDR takes you on a ride from all walks of life sprawling across a multitude of degenerates, drunkards, revolutionaries, and tyrants with a glimmer of hope amidst it all. It’s a 20-hour campaign sprawling across the untamed Wild West and war-torn Mexico without a single dull moment in it.
Aside from having John as the Chad protagonist, RDR also has a strong array of characters like Bonnie, Seth, Irish, Dickens, Louisa, and the Marston Family featuring Abigail, Jack, and Uncle. Even though most of them do not get enough screen time, they manage to leave a lasting impression on John’s story. And all of it ends on such a high note that by the time credits roll, you will have witnessed one of the greatest finales in Video Game history.
Born Unto Trouble
The nearing end of the Wild West era was one of the most turbulent times in American history. The game captures this essence magnanimously across its American provinces of New Austin and West Elizabeth. The same is executed thing goes even beyond in the war-torn Mexican province of Nuevo Paraiso. From the moment John rides into the borders of Mexico, there is a dynamic shift in the campaign. This was like the sequel’s Guarma chapter but executed exceptionally well.
Unaware of the consequences of his actions, John finds himself trapped in skirmishes between the Mexican Army and the Rebels. From there on out, the game just picked a pace so fast and threw so many themes all at once, that I kind of decided to take a backseat to venture into the side chores that the game has to offer.
From addictive minigames like Liar’s Dice to Gang-hideouts and bounties, there are plenty of ways to make money, earn fame, and redeem honor. In between, there’s also plenty of herding, horsing, and hunting that may occasionally wear you out. Thankfully, the game more than makes up for it, thanks to stranger’s missions and an amazing cast of characters.
The same follows suit in RDR’s exceptionally brilliant DLC, Undead Nightmare. Just when you think you are done with the game, Undead Nightmare reels you back in with its Aztec Zombie concussion. As a standalone 6-8 hour-long spinoff, the DLC went way beyond my expectations. Overall, it’s a package brimming with quality content.
Despite its age, the gameplay and visuals of Read Dead Redemption have aged like fine wine. But it comes with a huge caveat of being locked 30 frames per second. Aside from featuring a well-implemented AMD FSR 2 upscaling solution that renders the game at a native 4K resolution on PS5 and PS4 Pro consoles, there are no noticeable enhancements in this port of Red Dead. Still, many of the issues like the low-resolution textures and pre-baked lighting could have easily been overlooked if it was not locked to 30 fps.
While visually, the game still looks pretty darn good, the framerate cap makes its shooting and horseriding appear quite choppy. The game tries to remedy this by implementing an aim-locking system that can be disabled by enabling ‘Expert Shooting Mode’. While this usually works fine for most of the time, during duels the 30 fps cap turns into a total nightmare. It’s quite disheartening to see a title of this caliber caged like this.
While Red Dead Redemption is a spectacular masterpiece on its own, its PlayStation 4 port hardly brings anything new to the table with a steep price tag of its own. While it’s a huge missed opportunity after a decade-long wait, it’s nice that more modern systems besides Xbox consoles can finally play this piece of art. As for the recommendation, you should pick this up while it is on sale or wait for the possible PC and PS5 ports that may hit the stores next year.