Reader Review: Red Dead Redemption

Do you have what it takes to get a review published right here on Kotaku? Zachary does, as he hunts down every last skunk in the Wild West.

Yes, that’s right, we’re now publishing reader reviews here on Kotaku. This is your chance to deliver sensible game purchasing advice to the rest of the Kotaku community.

And thanks to the very kind chaps at Madman Entertainment, purveyor of all kinds of cool, indie and esoteric film, the best reader review we publish each month will win a prize pack containing ten of the latest Madman DVD releases.

This review was submitted by Zachary Hull. If you’ve played Red Dead Redemption, or just want to ask Zac more about it, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Red Dead Redemption (360, PS3)

The year is 1911, you are John Marston a relic of a dying age and you are searching for some old friends. The Wild West is a dangerous place, from marshalls and thieves, to cougars and packs of wolves. You are not here to tame it, or even try to fix it, just make it home alive. But change is just around the corner, and that could pose more danger than a group of banditos.


John Marston: Coming into this game, I thought Marston would be like a lot of male leads in games. Quiet and with not much depth to his character. I couldn't be more wrong. As the game progresses, you bond with Marston and feel for not only what he does, but why he does them. Regardless of whether you are a Hero of the West or a vicious Outlaw, he still retains a lot of emotional depth that you come to respect by the end of the game.

Mastering The Wild West: Outside of the main story, there are a lot of things to do. Hours at a time can be spent searching the vast expanses searching for animals to hunt, hidden boxes of treasure to plunder or even just helping (or hindering) those who happen to cross your path. You truly feel like you are experiencing all the West has to offer you.

The Supporting Cast: Along your journey, you will meet people who will give you assistance during missions. From Miss MacFarlane to the never sober Irish, they all give you some enjoyment when they join you on your (and sometimes their) escapades. They all have distinct personalities, and the voice acting is not only excellent, but also mostly realistic.


Lighting: I don't know if this was a problem with my TV or it was to show the lack of technology at the time, but visibility goes from being fine during the day, to almost impossible during the night, and even worse when it rains at night, or you are in a room with very little ambient lighting. During one mission I could only kill enemies with auto-aim, dead eye, or if I positioned myself directly in front of a light source, so enemies became visible, and changing the brightness settings did little to fix this issue.

Platforming: There are very few points in the game where platforming comes into play, but at those times, the jumping and climbing are very clumsy and after playing games like Uncharted, you would think those features, regardless of how often they are needed, would be better implemented.

Red Dead Redemption allows all your fantasies about the west to come true, you are able to take all those iconic moments from the old western films and make them your own. From the vast environments to the small and distant settlements, you know that when you first step off the train and walk into Armadillo, that you will have a long and very enjoyable western adventure.

Reviewed by: Zachary Hull

You can have your Reader Review published on Kotaku. Send your review to us at the usual address. Make sure it’s written in the same format as above and in under 500 words - yes, we’ve upped the word limit. We’ll publish the best ones we get and the best of the month will win a Madman DVD prize pack.


    Nice work.

    I haven't had any trouble with the lighting and can see everything quite clearly, maybe check your tv's settings. The game itself may have a brightness/gamma control as well, but I haven't checked.

    Nice review, Zach.

    Speaking of which, do you play as more of an outlaw or a hero? Or somewhere inbetween?

      I was a hero for the most part. After the ending (which was epic) I dabbled in the outlaw side of things with my trusty bandana.

    It is most definitely your television. I can see right to the distant horizon at night time. Lower your contrast maybe?

    I can't get over how much I love this game.

    The lighting (and lightning - best virtual thunderstorms ever) was outstanding in RDR, but I needed to tweak both the in game brightness and contrast settings to suit my plasma.

    This occurred the first tme I experienced the night time setting in game, because it was bloody dark and I couldn't see a damn thing.

    Otherwise, solid review!


      I had the exact tsame issue with lighting on my LG 41", turned out it wasnt the game at fault but i had to change some of the settings on my TV, changed the blacking feature to on insatead of auto and also changed the picture from dynamic to standard. those changes made a freaking huge difference to the lighting in the game.

      for once there was actually daylight in thieves landing and i could see when it was raining, also made it easier to spot the bloody grizzlies in tall trees

    Yeah I haven't had any problem with the lighting either.

    I was inside a bar, holding off the cops for nearly a day (in RDR time). From daylight, to cloud, to night, to rain & lightning and back to daylight.

    Being in the bar, seeing outside whilst raining I could perfectly see guys coming for me on horses or running amongst the shrub. I haven't had to tweak any of the settings so far.

    Haven't yet came to the problem of being in plat-forming situations but Rockstar games, well GTA series anyway, haven't been known for great character movement when it comes to jumping.

    Uncharted isn't that great neither. On the spot or anything like that its pretty basic. It's just jumping from ledge to ledge etc... where the plat-forming works (although still VERY unrealistic)

    So far - RDR is a close tied with ME2 as Game of the Year for me. RDR has it all - Fun, Depth, Combat & Controls, Storyline.
    ME2 loses points cause it doesn't have a fun multiplayer experience, but I can't judge that being the type of game that it is.

    There are still a lot of very exciting games coming up that i'm very interested in and for any of those to be on my GOTY list, well they have very high expectations. This year has been quite outstanding for games.

    Nice review.

    This game is just epic, the attention to detail amazes me every time I play it. Hunting is a pure joy, especially spotting a rabbit and firing away with my shotgun only to be charged off a cliff by a cougar.

    Though on my ps3 version there seems to be a noticeable frame rate drop in town(s), in addition to distracting aliasing everywhere. I guess its a price to pay for awesome visuals.

    When on horseback at night, press the left stick button to turn on your headlights, that should make it easier to see.

      Trust him, he's a Hun.

      Lighting has been an issue for me but I haven't tried changing my TV settings. In game settings didn't help, but then if the TV is out of whack they wouldn't.

    What a great game. Something new every time you play. Last night I took out a stag at night during a thunderstorm. While skinning it I got attacked by a cougar which I managed to kill but not before it took down my horse. Before I knew it, it's hunting partner showed up and attacked me, but only to get me away from the horse carcass which it started to either eat or try and drag away. This gave me a chance to put it down. You certainly feel very alone in the desert at night, in a storm, with cougars around and no horse. What other game gives you experiences like that?

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