With all the controversy surrounding employee mistreatment at Rockstar San Diego, many of us were wondering what this would mean for Red Dead Redemption? Was the whole project going to be undermined by exhausted employees driven to the limits of human endurance by greedy Rockstar bosses? Would it turn out like some incoherent essay written the night before a deadline as you struggle to maintain focus and your eyes burn with fatigue? Amidst all the talk of insane working hours, no overtime pay and morale at rock bottom, you could certainly be forgiven for thinking so.
However, as if by a miracle, Red Dead Redemption is shaping up as one of the most outstanding titles of the year according to a few hands-on previews. And if an open-world-western-style-shooter sounds like your kind of thing, you can currently pre-order the PS3 version for just £32.73 over at The Hut this weekend, saving you over £2 on the nearest competitor. Incidentally, Xbox 360 owners will be pleased to find that they can pick up the game for only a few pennies more - £32.93 to be exact - using the same method! Just enter BANK2 at the checkout to get £2 knocked off the price.
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Red Dead Redemption centres upon the exploits of John Marston, an outlaw struggling to survive life on the American frontier at the turn of the 20th century. And with its tweaked version of NaturalMotion's euphoria engine (the same one Rockstar used for GTA IV) you know RDD isn’t going to disappoint visually. Players will find themselves free to explore an open world environment encompassing frontier towns, big Martian-red-canyons, mountain passes and - for those who feel like taking a jaunt through the lawless badlands - big swathes of territory well off the beaten track.
A bit like Assassins Creed, RDD features a plethora of side quests and mini-games alongside the main storyline, and - as IGN point out – it seems as though Rockstar are attempting to provide some of the fun factor which was missing from GTA IV. You’ll often come across citizens in distress, and whether you choose to come to their aid, or join up with the bandits and loot the dead bodies is totally up to you. You can go to the saloon, get drunk and throw people off balconies. Or else have a crack at various mini-games like hitting a knife in time between your fingers without severing them.
It’s a game which also delivers on action. Using your Dead Eye – which is basically a Max Payne-bullet-time ability – you can take down enemies who die writhing screaming with true spaghetti-western-style drama. While some say Red Dead Redemption is a title you have to your collection, a few insist it's one that you must.