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Red Dead Redemption Day#2: No Trail to Follow

Day 2 in Red Dead is basically confusing. The open world is impressive, but it’s not really telling me what I’m supposed to do. It’s disorienting. More importantly, there are all of these symbols and controls and techniques the game has not taught me. I am constantly being surprised with failure or at least unexpected results simply because the game has not told me what to expect or how to do things.  GTA has fixed some things (most notably save points) and the game is still pretty fun, but I really wish I had more of a sense of what I was doing. Spoilers within.

I start back at the ranch. There’s no clear immediate direction, so I just start checking out things on the map. I buy an apple from a doctor for my horse; it increases the horse’s stamina. I bump into a woman unintentionally. This is GTA — I can’t expect to walk across a room without stumbling into someone. I play some poker and it’s actually poker. I come out ahead. I finally find a job at the stockade: searching ranch with a dog for something I don’t know.  Not sure what to do, I follow the dog and then I suddenly get a “I failed to stop the criminal” message. WTF? What was I supposed to do? I go back to the stockade and I accept a bounty for some random guy. He’s in another part of the map and his last known location shows up on the map. I go to that area. Along the way, I see a treasure hunter under attack. I try to save him and shoot some folk, but I’m not sure what happens because suddenly the guy turns to green circle on my map and runs away. I find the bounty with a collection of thugs. I kill the thugs pretty quick, and then try to shoot the bounty in the leg. I’m not sure how to take him alive — shooting the guy in the leg is what I did last time. I end up accidentally killing him. What is with this lack of input? Being this in the dark SUCKS. I loot the bodies and while I do, two guys randomly ride up to kill me. I kill them quick and get ready to head back to town. I can whistle to get a horse at any time, which is necessary I guess but totally breaking immersion. I get ready to ride back and two more random gunmen show up for me to kill. As I ride back, there are two more killers. I can see they are trying to keep this exciting, but it’s a little ridiculous. I finally get back to the ranch, and I hear gunfire but I can’t find it. I decide to save and sleep.

When I wake up, I go to Bonnie. That starts a new chapter: This Is Armadillo USA. Bonnie wants me to ride her to town. We get in the carriage. I drive and the carriage is an easy vehicle.  She jokes about whether I’ve needlessly risked my life recently. They discuss hope — it’s important for ranchers, she says. She also says John’s a friend and that he’s not rotten, just stupid.  She encourages me to not bounty. John says he wouldn’t if there were any other way. There’s also a very cute joke about John’s enigmatic personality being a cover for no personality. John reveals that he owns a farm (he’s spent three years there) and his “uncle” is in charge of it. We arrive at a yellow x in town and there’s a CS of them getting off the carriage. He has to get some medicine from Dr. Johnson (he’s the one that saved my life) with some of Bonnie’s money then meet her at general store. I get control back,  buy the medicine, and go back to Bonnie. In CS, they talk and she takes off to get back to the ranch, but she invites him look around Armadillo and he agrees.

As soon as I get control back, I hear a girl scream. I see a girl getting attacked in an alley, and I shoot and kill the guy whose attacking her.  She says she’ll remember it.  Looking for a blue spot on the map, I go into a bar and get a drink; it appears to cost me two dollars and do me nothing. I reach the blue spot on the balcony and there’s a price on the door. I choose to buy it, and oh blue spot is a room.  It’s a lot, but I’m not worried about money. I just wish I knew what it was before I bought it. I wander the town and go to a yellow x. That starts the chapter Justice in Pike’s Basin. It starts with a CS of the marshal on a phone. He can’t it to work. John and the marshal then talk about how things have changed. The deputy comes in saying that some gang rustled some livestock. They gear up to take out the gang and invite John along. We get our horses and I follow the marshal to the canyon. We shoot some guys and then the canyon forks. I mean to follow the marshal one way, but I end up following the deputies the other. I fight my way around the canyon, and I fight well for a while. It’s pretty fun, but then go down near the end when I run out in the open.  Thank CHRIST Rockstar put a save IN THE MISSION FOR ONCE. I don’t have to go back to the very beginning and redo the cut scenes, like in EVERY OTHER GTA GAME EVER. Halle-fucking-lujah. I die again after respawning because I’m being cavalier with my health, and I die a third time because the cover is not protecting me. I finally get over the bridge and meet up with the marshal, who apparently fought his way here by himself. Together, we fight into the center of the basin to a stirring western soundtrack. A few dead thugs later, we free the ranch hands and the livestock. There’s a CS of me untying a guy.  The Marshal says he’ll do what he can to help John with his fort problem. The deputy mentions that the tobacconist is missing and the town is up at arms. The marshal is dismissive; he’s done all of this to save the town, and all they care about is a snake-oil salesman. There’s a CS of the cattle being led away, and I get my money/fame/honor for the mission.

I get control back and get back  to Armadillo. Once there, I see a woman crying. I decide to talk to her.  Her boy is missing and I agree to help to help . I try playing five-finger fillet — it’s a dumb timing game where I move my knife between my fingers. I quit and head back to the ranch. I see a stranger off the road along the way. I talk to him, and it turns out he’s a dowser. The dowser found water under a guy’s property but the guy doesn’t want to listen to him. He wants me to get the guy to sell his land to us and I agree. I can do these stranger things whenever so I ride on. I see gunmen off of the road and get shot basically as soon as I look in that direction. Sigh. I respawn back at the house I bought in Armadillo. That’s about all I can take this time, so I call it a night.

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  1. Douglas Yee says

    Three quick notes…

    The Tutorial messages in RDR suck. They pop up on the upper left corner of your screen and disappear quickly, especially if you proceed to do something that would pop up a new tutorial. That makes the other tutorial go away even if it isn’t finished flashing up on your screen. It’s goddamn annoying. Just wait until your first duel, you will be trying to read the tutorial while the other guy draws his gun on you. 🙁

    After the first mission with the Marshal, you can’t capture bounties alive by shooting them in the leg. You have to use a lasso. You get a lasso and learn how to use it from Bonnie’s missions.

    Finally, my favorite part of RDR was probably the random encounters, like the whore in the alley getting knifed, or the people being chased by wildlife, or the robbers on the sides of the road. It kind of keeps the world feeling alive, instead of just seeing random folks walking around doing nothing.

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