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Red Dead Redemption 2 - Complete Spoiler Review

VO: Dave Thibault
Dave continues his dive into the Wild West with his complete spoiler review of the story, and additional gameplay elements.

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Red Dead Redemption 2 Review Part 2

Hey MojoPlays viewers and welcome to Part 2 of our two part review of Red Dead Redemption 2. While the first video was a spoiler free review of the game’s first half, this video is going to be a spoiler filled discussion. So you have been warned if you haven’t finished the game yet.

So I guess the first thing you’ll all want know is: Have my impressions on the game changed since the first video? Yes! Quite significantly I might add as well. Most of that is in relation to the story so let’s start there.

During the first half of the game I really enjoyed the chemistry between the gang members to the point where the start to feel like extended family members, while these folks are criminals, their motivations make them believable, and in some cases relatable. However it’s the story’s 2nd half, which I hadn’t gotten up to when I did the spoiler free review, that the quality cranks up to 11.

Arthur is a great protagonist to follow, probably not as good as John in the first game and that’s mostly from the way the game set up its pacing for the first half. But when that plot twist hits, it hits hard. And you really start to see him really firing on all cylinders, to really hit his full potential as an anti-hero.

Dutch is also a great character, being given far more room to develop in this title, with some fantastic dialogue, and the way the game frames itself between not being able to distinguish if he’s losing his mind, or if he had always been this deceptive and we’d been tricked the whole time is masterfully done. All further elevated by the brilliant charismatic performance, given by actor Benjamin Byron Davis.

While John Marston plays a supporting role for a large portion of the game, he does get an Epilogue all to himself that essentially sets up the events of the first game. Nevertheless, despite his limited development, seeing as we already know his fate it was great to see how he went from one of Dutch’s favorites to trying to be a family man.

In all honesty though, the real star of the show is Sadie Adler. She has the best development out of any other character in the game starting from a helpless near-frozen widow, to slowly making her way up the gang’s ranks and eventually becoming one of the most respected bounty hunter’s in the state. It’s so good in fact that as times I wish she were the main character. There is a misstep the game does make with her but I’ll get to that later.

While I still think the first Chapter dragged on a bit too long, Chapter 2 certainly made up for it, since it serves as a great way to get the player immersed into the world and get a feel of the gang and its locations. My point about the force riding segments at the start of mission at least here; still stand but it does improve later into the game. Chapter 3 just outside of Rhodes … while not as strong as the previous one, was still really enjoyable. That whole arch of the gang getting themselves caught in between a long running blood feud between 2 families was really engaging the whole section was very paced.

Chapter 4 is where the missions starts to feel more like an early Grand Theft Auto title rather than a western, Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the fact that there were things like driving a remote controlled boat, or how the chapter started with a party with some of the city’s main political figureheads present that gave me flashbacks to Vice City. But it’s also here that we start to see how Dutch thinks he thinks he can end it all with a big bank robbery, while at the same time starting to get caught in obvious traps, which ends up costing them dearly.

It’s game’s 6th Chapter that in my opinion: make up some of the games best moments. So many new factors have come into play, the current camp location is a miserable cave, the money box has been stolen so camp supplies become very limited, and Dutch is cracking. Not to mention Arthur’s diagnosis. Ok … It was obvious he wasn’t going to survive, since he’s not in the first Red Dead Redemption, but the way Rockstar handled his character he was brilliant. He knows that the gang isn’t going to survive if they keep following Dutch, and thus has to go behind his back to slowly convince those he cares about the most to leave. It’s a heartbreaking time considering how much I came to grow attached to them, but at the same time you know it’s for the best. While at the same time you know that the whole thing can go south at any moment.

And while all that’s going on, we also have story revolving around a Native American tribe being driven from their land. Obviously this was going to be a tricky subject and one Rockstar couldn’t gloss over considering the game’s size, time period and location. Yet the direction they took, where you have the two viewpoints of the Chief: Rain’s Fall, and his son Eagle Flies was a smart one. You can certainly see both sides of their argument, and its made even more harsh by the fact that a friend they have that’s in the US Army, is essentially framed for a bogus crime simply for trying to help their plight.

It’s a chapter with so many factors that ends up culminating into an incredible story. In fact I would even go as far as to say it may be one of the best video game stories ever written. With the game getting so many 10/10 reviews, it’s now very easy to see why based on it’s narrative alone. However while it is an incredible story, it is not a flawless one, while I do have some minor gripes that would come off as nitpicks in the grand picture, the game does make one major misfire:

Chapter 5, set on Guarma feels incredibly under-developed and out of place. I can see what they were going for, in fact the game gives hints of similarities to the Mexican Revolution segment from the first game. But here the whole story of Arthur, Dutch and the others, having to fight their way off a tropical island, doesn’t really feel necessary, because aside a few fleeting mentions of the island afterwards, the chapter doesn’t really have a lasting impact on the story. The closest we get to something plot important is Dutch killing an old woman who had been guiding him and Arthur, but it’s far from craziest thing Dutch has done.

The missions on the island are poorly executed too, with the final battle feeling more like something out of a generic Call of Duty single player mission, right down to the cannon fight with a warship. It’s a completely unnecessary shift in tone that feels more like Rockstar is trying to tease an upcoming game or DLC, considering the plot with the islands inhabitants isn’t even resolved by the time Dutch’s gang leaves almost as soon as they arrived.

This is also where the game makes its biggest misstep with Sadie, because upon reuniting with the rest of the gang; we learn that will all the gunslingers gone, it was Sadie that singlehandedly protected the non-combatants and got them to safety. It’s essentially what could have been Sadie’s most badass moment in the game … and it happens off-screen. I honestly would have preferred to see that, rather than what happened on the island.

Nevertheless my feelings on the story; have indeed greatly improved since the first video. But my feelings on the gameplay … have not.

The main missions still have the same handholding problem I mentioned in the first video, pretty much right until the end. It’s especially bad in missions where you have to infiltrate enemy compound where all you need to do is just follow your ally’s specific instructions. Plus the amount of times the player gets ambushed by riders on horseback during a getaway, starts to make a lot of the missions become predictable towards the end.

Speaking of which, there is an absurd disconnect between story and gameplay, in that the body count in this game is ridiculously high. In fact, I find it rather hard to believe that this is supposed to be the end of the outlaw era, when most rival gangs seemingly have an endless supply of gunman. Hell Arthur and the gang kill enough people during missions that would be enough to depopulate half the state during that era.

Though for all the annoying missions out there, there were some great ones: The trek through the Alligator swamp was pulse pounding from start to finish, the ride up the mountain with Rains Fall is certainly one of the game’s more beautiful moments. And the liberation of Eagle Flies from the army base and it’s subsequent escape down a raging river during an intense storm was frigging epic. Just to name a few examples.

In the end though Red Dead Redemption 2 is a phenomenal Open World title. The story is an instant classic and will be remembered for years to come, It does fall short in some areas, and I stand by my points about the heavy handholding. But overall: This is a game that really shouldn’t be missed.

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