[Games That Nobody Plays Anymore is a weekly series written by Nathan Hardisty with a little title card help from Juan Houter. It’s an on-going series about the forgotten games of yesteryear, and doesn’t totally reflect the title. Remember; nobody stops playing these games; it’s just a title. Don’t make something of it or I will come down to your house and ask you politely to stop. If you have any suggestions for future titles to ‘GTNPA’ don’t forget to leave me a comment!]
I’m kicking Red Dead Weekend off to a start I didn’t expect. Rockstar is known for care, attention and all of those good paradigms of game design. Red Dead Revolver is, as R* states, the spiritual predecessor to Redemption. Given that we’re all knee deep in the latter then maybe what I’m about to say will have zero effect. I may as well say it; Red Dead Revolver is not a Rockstar game. It has the label, the style, the quirks but it’s not put together properly. There’s several reasons and little overarching problems but I have to voice this right now… it’s just not that good.
Given R* tradition with filling universes with hundreds of characters, it’s only fair this arrive in Revolver too. It’s all the more sad when you see the R* flair degenerated to just silly names and silly dialogue; there’s no drama-mock as it’s being billed by people. Rockstar mocks the world, exploits its inner workings while all the way paving a dramatic story or just being downright good writers when it comes to storytelling. None of that is here, instead, you play as some guy called Red whose parents are shot dead and he grows up into an anti-hero and finds their killer. Batman? I think not, the story is quite paper-thin. What little interaction between characters is okay banter.
I have to remember this is an action game, and for the most part, Revolver succeeds. It’s a linear shooter and it mixes in cover systems, which was new at the time, and some other doohickies including the Dead Eye targeting system. It’s been described by some journalists as “the damn Max Payne button”, you can definitely see the resemblance. Time slows down and you’re able to paint your foes with targets, after this little slow time, Red will shoot every little painted target to a mirror shine. This means, basically, you get rewarded for killing people by being able to kill more people. It’s a good ethos for action games I guess.
My main complaint is that there’s no soul to the game. Without the Western plains and the fantastic licensed music from the such Western pioneers as Ennio Morricone, the game is a fun but soulless shoot-em-up. I have to forgive Red Dead Revolver, I guess, this was a time when videogames themselves were struggling with their image. Writers now had tools to create massive open stories full of emotion and all that good stuff, I consider Rockstar as one of the main pioneers. Videogames are moving towards a cultural renaissance right now and hopefully it’ll allow for major power changes when we emerge, or else we’ll be stuck with every game being about killing things. Now’s not the time to write about videogames as a whole though.
Revolver attempts a dead formula, it really does show its age. There’s barely anything to pick from the bone. The main core gameplay is about an arcade like style of killing and slowing down time, while the main story is about a heartfelt redemption against your parents. It doesn’t mix, it completely reminds me of Prototype in that during the cutscenes you’re painted as “the only hero”, and then you go out and literally surf people’s bodies. The gameplay and story are in two separate rooms, a problem many games were plagued with. I’ll come out and say that videogames don’t need good storytelling, but if they attempt it then it needs to be criticized.
Revolver is fun, I guess, it’s a videogame at its core. It doesn’t exactly mix all the adult themes into a giant melting pot of parody, but I guess it’s okay. It’s a shallow representation of a world long gone, the old West, it’s not the full blown out Westerngasm that Redemption promises to be. Speaking of Redemption, be sure to check out the rest of Red Dead Weekend for the full review of Red Dead Redemption, and the P*N Game Night.
Next week: Since I’m totally knee deep in the west, maybe a little running and Gunning wouldn’t hurt.
(Yes, there’s a game called ‘Gun’.)