In May of 2010, Rockstar released their incredibly popular Wild West meets GTA, Red Dead Redemption. Initially released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, Red Dead Redemption and the DLC Undead Nightmares returns over a decade later for fans of the beloved action-adventure game and its sequel. Now available for £39.99 on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, fans can relive their wildest Western antics and see how this port holds up.
It’s Time To Hop Back In The Saddle
Upon hearing about Red Dead Redemption‘s re-release, I was excited. I firmly believe that older games need re-releasing for newer consoles. Like many others, I was disappointed to learn that it is merely a port, not a remake or a remaster. Despite this, I was still excited to dive back in, especially after enjoying the original game back on PS3 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Once again, we step into the boots of our protagonist, John Marston, who is on a journey to round up members of a gang he was once a part of in hopes of leading an honest life. When you’re not hunting ex-gang members, hunt for animals, treasure, or lost wagons and people. True to its port, Red Dead Redemption plays the same as you would remember.
What to do apart from the story.
Besides the main missions, Red Dead Redemption includes optional challenges for you to complete. Finishing challenges like Treasure Hunting, Sharpshooting and collecting herbs will award you with passive buffs such as a larger Deadeye meter. Outfits are also available to unlock by doing specific tasks. Some are as simple as purchasing a piece of clothing from a tailor, while others require the player to win a mini-game. Rewards are gifted to the player at levels five and ten, with ten usually being the outfit. I found the Treasure Hunter challenge the easiest, as all it needs you to do is find a chest somewhere on the map.
Sometimes, Outfits have individual requirements to unlock them, listed on their page. Outfits sometimes have special effects, like making law enforcement ignore you or allowing you to cheat at poker. Although you can do the challenges at your leisure, some won’t be doable until you reach certain parts of the map, as some are in specific locations not available to you from the start.
Relax from killing people with some mini-games!
While hunting in Red Dead Redemption can net you a lot of money, there are other ways to earn money. Mini-games! Try winning at poker, arm wrestling, liar’s dice and more. Since I aimed to complete all the challenges, I had to win some mini-games. Unfortunately, the mini-games felt very dated and were borderline infuriating at times. Five Finger Filet and Liar’s Dice were my least favourite as it feels like the A.I. always has the upper hand. The one I found easiest was the Arm Wrestling.
If you feel more like earning money from killing humans, then become a bounty hunter and make the West a better place. Sometimes, NPC’s will appear on the map asking for assistance. Some of them might want you to catch a thief. Others will challenge you to see who’s a better bird shooter. Either way, you’re getting paid.
The American Undead Nightmare
In Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, players will fight back against the zombie hordes that plague the land. Defend towns and help the survivors from the undead. After saving the townsfolk, players can use the area to save their game and fast travel. Some safe zones will have missing posters. They work similar to bounties. You must find the individual and bring them back. In return, you will be awarded ammo instead of money.
A new task for players in Undead Nightmare is to purge coffins in cemeteries with fire and then defend against the oncoming waves of undead. Finishing this will reward the players with various new weapons like the Tomahawk. Although hunting is useless, you can still tame wild horses, better yet, the Horses of the Apocalypse such as Famine, War and Death. Each of these horses has their own special skill; War lights enemies on fire, while Famine has unlimited stamina.
Thoughts on the performance.
While it’s unfortunate that it isn’t a remaster or remake, it runs smoothly. Though some players are disappointed that the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 versions lock at 30fps, I haven’t experienced any frame drops during my playthrough. Then again, I’m not particularly bothered by framerate in games unless they’re significantly laggy. It also renders at 1080p on both systems. As you might expect, the loading times are much faster than before.
Graphically, Red Dead Redemption looks about the same as before. The colours and environments look decent for what they are. At first, I didn’t experience any visual bugs or animation issues, but some started to pop up as the game progressed. Once I crossed the border of Mexico, I frequently had an animation issue where John’s walking animation broke. He stood still while still moving, leaving him sliding across the map. It mainly happened when I was skinning animals.
Graphics & Audio
While the beautiful skies, lighting and colourful plants in-game looked nice, I couldn’t help but wonder what could have been if Red Dead Redemption got a visual remaster. While it doesn’t bother me much, I believe the character models and animations would have benefitted from an update. Some of the animals are hard to tell apart. For example, beavers looked like racoons, even from a medium distance. Trying to see small creatures through the grass was difficult. Snakes tend to blend in with the colours of the ground, making them hard to spot. Foxes were also tricky to spot sometimes, as they looked similar to coyotes and had the same sound effects.
The audio also holds up well. The audio quality sounds a little dated sometimes, but it’s not glaringly obvious. The music still does well to set the mood during missions, too.
Red Dead Redemption‘s main story takes roughly 20 hours to complete, though I got side-tracked trying to earn the various outfits and finish challenges. Tacking on further 10-ish hours for Undead Nightmare, you’re looking at 30-40 hours of content, especially if you sink your teeth into the challenges. You can check how long you’ve been playing in-game in the Stats menu.
Even though I looked forward to playing Red Dead Redemption after playing, I think it would have been better off with a remaster. Maybe it’s because of the vast improvements I enjoyed in Red Dead Redemption 2, but I didn’t find this as enjoyable as I did back on PS3.
While playing, it felt noticeably dated despite running better on a newer platform. In my opinion, Rockstar should have added some quality-of-life improvements to this port, if nothing else. I wish they had added some English subtitles to the Spanish dialogue, as I felt that it wouldn’t be too hard today and would have made it more entertaining. I wish there were more side quests because the world felt too empty.
I believe that the price that Rockstar is asking for is too steep, even with the addition of Undead Nightmare. £39.99 for a simple port without the multiplayer, especially considering that the port for some of Rockstar’s other titles, such as Canis Canem Edit, is only £11.99. It’s honestly a shame that this game still never got a release for PC.
I award Red Dead Redemption the Thumb Culture Silver Award. I would have given it Gold if it wasn’t for the steep price.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.