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Red Dead Redemption Day#11: A Long and Dirty Road

The beginning of this session gets me within inches of quitting with horrendously long travel times and terrible save points — basically everything that causes me to quit GTAs after about eight hours. The gameplay improves later on as the mission content I am plowing through isn’t bad. But again, I’m disappointed in the open world here. The cutscenes bear no resemblances to the actions I choose to make or the character I’m portraying. And most damagingly, the game forces me into unethical actions and then condemns me even though I had no choice in doing them.  This is simply an outdated open world model — Fallout 3 did this much, much better. Spoilers within.

I start this session in a town in the East called Cuparosa. This is a little hard to grok if you haven’t played Red Dead, but Mexico is HUGE. The next de Santa mission is in Escalera, which is literally more than a five minute ride across the countryside. All of you who hate Wind Waker, just imagine you had to do that sailing every time you wanted to do a mission, and NOTHING happened for 90% of the trip. That’s Red Dead in Mexico. It is a slow growth irritation you can feel building into hatred.

I mention all of this so you can understand how angry what happened next got me. So, I start at Cuparosa and ride to the de Santa mission. I get all the way out there only to find out the mission isn’t available for another 8 HOURS. I’m trying to be Zen though, so a do a short ride to the pick up the package/help the general mission I lost last time. There’s some bug where I can’t shoot and I quickly die. And then I respawn … back in CUPAROSA, ALL THE WAY BACK AT THE BEGINNING!!! WHY DIDN’T I FUCKING RESPAWN IN THE LAST TOWN I WAS IN? WHAT WAS ALL THAT MONEY I SPENT ON AN APARTMENT IN ESCALERA FOR?!?  I can’t possibly do that ride again right now, so I spend $23 fucking dollars to get across map in a wagon.  I get to Escalera, and then almost immediately hit an officer on my horse. I’m given a bounty, but given that I’m in the center of the army base, I’m immediately swarmed by soldiers and die, to respawn again in Cuparosa.  I swear to god I am on the verge of quitting this game. There’s a Landon mission in this town, so I just do that instead to avoid throwing my controller into the TV.  It starts a new chapter: Lucky in Love.

We begin with a CS of Landon at a poker table. He’s doing well, and he’s a proud gambler. He offers John a chance to play, and very confusingly John refuses. Ok, I know the cutscenes can’t keep track of my exact choices, but hello game — have you watched me play you? I’ve probably logged more poker time than killing time, and this is a Rockstar game — that is A LOT of poker time. Anyway, John sits down and plays two random rounds. Then there’s a CS of German player accusing John of cheating. John angrily denies and feeble threatening postures lead to everyone drawing. The German guy challenges John to a duel and he accepts. I kill the German easily in that duel, although there’s some interesting weirdness when a tumbleweed spawns out of thin air after the guy dies. Immediately after this, the Mexican guy who was playing with us threatens me while brandishing a hostage. Ok… not sure what all this is about, but killing one more person in this game is not something I sweat. I kill the Mexican in the duel, being careful not to shoot the girl.  More  bad guys show up, and Langdon and I kill them in a standard gunfight to end the mission.

I basically despise Mexico in this game, so I go immediately to next Landon mission to accelerate its end. This one starts the chapter: Mexican Wagon Train. In CS, John sits to talk to Landon. John probes for information about Esquela and talks about his past.  Landon talks about how there’s no escape from killing and that they are both relics. A woman enters and ask the pair to save a writer and government official from the colonel. Landon makes a poor taste joke about disliking writers, but then agrees to go. I get control and we ride and talk. God Ricketts is such a dick.  He accuses John of switching sides of the revolution at whim. I HAVE NO CHOICE ASSHOLE – THAT’S THE MISSIONS THEY GIVE ME. I HATE it when games punish you narratively for things they gave you no choice about doing. I don’t feel connected to the scorn if I agree with the person insulting me and what to do what they suggested. We see the wagon train and kill guys around and on wagon quickly. We then drive the wagons over the bridge to America, shooting enemies  who shoot at us and throw firebombs. We make it easy-peasy and it’s a decently fun fight scene. It ends with a CS of John freeing the prisoners.  Ricketts is going to guide them to America. Thank god this is the last I’m going to see of this guy. When the mission ends, I get more famous so random people are going to wait before accosting me.

Still plowing through Mexico missions, I go to find Luisa. I arrive at her house and I again have to kill three hours before the mission will start. I basically run around in circles until 5am when I start the new chapter: My Sister’s Keeper. I see a CS of the family crying together. Luisa says the revolution is coming.  They are loading up a wagon because they have to send women away. Luisa’s staying to fight and knows she could die, but I have to take her sister to the docks before sunset as she’s too young to fight. I drive the wagon and take the sister a ways until we reach a CS of army guys stopping the wagon.  She says to act normal, but the army guys threaten and talk to each other and it becomes clear we have to run. The sister guides me past roadblocks and changes directions as we ride the wagon.  I have to shoot a few guys but it’s most steering the wagon to avoid capture. It’s quite fun. I get her to dock on time and wish her well to end the mission.

I’m near the next de Santa mission at the end of that last one, so go to it. The new chapter is Demon  Drink. There’s CS of de Santa getting chewed out by the Colonel. The Colonel asks if John is coming to hunt him, but John says he’s here to bring his targets to justice and doesn’t care about politics. The Colonel says that Esquela is the son of a drunk. Boy, the Colonel’s character is right out of some gangster movie. Anyway, the Colonel says he’s here to fight to help the peasants from themselves, and then orders me to deal with some rebels in exchange for information. De Santa and I ride away. I race him to the fort and win, but along the way, there’s more political talk, and I am more than mildly pissed that again I am being forced to do things I wouldn’t do. When we arrive, there’s a CS of guys fighting outside the fort. I get control as we enter and start shooting. I die once from bad cover.  This one is kind of hard. I’m trying to kill all of the rebels in this enclosed fort, but there are rebels all around me (hiding in buildings, in corners) and they constantly flank me, so I die again and again. I finally come up with a strategy to start at a fort wall and push out into the center from there, and that works like a charm. When the battle is over,  they CS capture women for the Colonel to rape.  I HATE that I helped with this – I mean genuinely HATE that the game made me responsible in part for this. If I had my choice, I would shoot every soldier here and then march to the Colonel and blow his brains out. I can’t help thinking that Fallout 3 would have let me done that.  Oh, and now I’m supposed to burn down the village.  I try stalling, but no one else is burning the buildings, so I throw the firebombs and that’s that. We end with a CS of the soldiers enjoying fire, and Marston finding them sick.

Shake it off. Next mission, back to Luisa. As I ride to her house, I save a woman from bandits and I save a guy from wolves. I get there for the new chapter: Must A Savior Die. In CS, Luisa tells me that the rebel leader Reyes is captured. She loves him and says that in their hearts they are married. Marston offers to help rescue him.  We get in a wagon and skip to jail (they are not talking, so I don’t feel like watching the endless trip). When we arrive, Luisa tells me I have to save Reyes and that I can get into the jail using a low wall. I end up on a rooftop and there’s a sniper rifle here,  but I seem to only get ammo when I pick it up, not the rifle. There’s something going on far in the distance which would make it great to have a sniper rifle. I’m told to shoot the executioner, and I guess that’s the guy I hit when I open fire. I’m not staying behind cover after the shot though, so I die when the other troops open fire. I retry, but now I keep failing to save Reyes. I don’t know why I’m failing but I keep failing – I guess I’m shooting the wrong guy with my first shot. The final time I try I wait, and I think I pick out the executioner way at the other end of the fort. I pop him and then take out the rest of the guards. I climb down and after looting bodies, I free Reyes. Hmm…he doesn’t seem to remember Luisa. I get a horse, and as we ride to the river, I kill some guys from horseback. We get to the river safely to see Luisa, and he totally doesn’t love her, but he recognizes her as we approach her raft.  He tells me he thought I was with Colonel Ayende and was going to kill me. Reyes offers me rewards for helping including Luisa herself, thus revealing himself to be a creep too.  There’s a CS of Luisa and Reyes reuniting. Reyes offers John a chance to be part of the revolution, but John declines. They get on the raft and Reyes sings to Luisa but using the wrong name in the song. Getting control again, I ride back to Chuprosa and save for the night.

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