Red Dead Redemption: Pistols, Poker, and Headshots Erik January 23, 2020 Game I ain’t no cowboy, but this game lassoed me right in. My inner Grand Theft Auto junkie couldn’t help but drop the $59.99 at my local Gamestop once I heard Rockstar had basically promoted RDR as GTA in the Wild Wild West. Visions of a mediocre Will Smith film immediately spring to mind. Luckily, this game more than lived up to its billing. And as a struggling post-college grad searching for some steady income (but with lots of free time), purchasing this game was probably one of the worst things I could’ve done to my bottom line. For any GTA diehard, this game will immediately have a familiar feel. Roads, cars, and cityscapes have been replaced with winding country roads, horses (impeccably realistic) and desolate western towns so lifelike you can almost touch the tumbleweed as it meanders across the screen. You are John Marston. A modest, ruggedly handsome ex-gang banger out for revenge, and eventually romance, with one of the locals named Bonnie, who takes you in. Unfortunately, it seems all Bonnie wants to do is talk your ear off, do some passive-aggressive flirting, and constantly force you to ride horses with her, and maybe lasso a few things. Yawn. The real fun, like in Rockstar’s previous incarnation (for me at least), comes when you ignore the law, put the missions on hold, and screw the urge to resist shooting random civilians. GTA has conditioned me to think this way, and I’ve never looked back. There are too many superb aspects of this game to fit into a single review, especially with so many other sites offering in depth background information about the characters and the game, so I’ll gloss over a quick laundry list of some of my personal favorite features. The mechanics are, in a word, tight. You shoot who you want to shoot, where you want to shoot them. Bar none the most entertaining part of this game, for me at least, are the ridiculous rag doll psychics, and the pinpoint control Marston has in regards to aim. Not to mention the AI’s scary-real responses to extremity-specific bullet wounds. Oh, and boy does the blood flow. Shoot someone in the foot, and they’ll act like the rug got pulled out from under them, crawl away begging for their life, and begin to hobble. Don’t turn your back if you shoot someone in the chest, either. Some hoodlums are more resilient than others, and will return fire, or let out one final trigger pull on their way to deaths door. And of course, headshots are as satisfying as ever. Lose all your real money playing online poker? RDR has the next best thing. There’s a not-so-friendly poker game going on in seemingly every town, so take that cash you earned selling wolf pellets and deer meat and lay it on the line. The cast of characters typically tends to be a local lawman, someone rich, someone poor, and a slave. All of whom talk enough random smack to put you on tilt. And, unlike some, ahem, popular gaming sites, these hands aren’t rigged! Go all-in as short stack, and you won’t immediately get knocked out. And this isn’t just time wasting filler. The players play how you’d expect professionals to play, check raising with wild abandon, and folding a raise if they don’t have the best hand. And the best part? If someone takes you out, you can always stand up, draw your pistol, and take out your aggression on the man with your cash the way many of us wish we could if consequences didn’t exist. All in all, this game has me hooked. This is far from an extensive review given my propensity to go rogue. I’ll settle down soon enough to play the way the game was intended to be played. But for now, I’m all outlaw.