TBT: Red Dead Revolver
When Red Dead Redemption released in 2010, I was skeptical that an open world western would fly. Thankfully, I was proven wrong and the game was a huge success and now even has a sequel planned for 2018. However, I’m not here to talk about those games. I’m here to tell y’all about the forgotten big brother of the Red Dead series: Revolver, a game that while flawed in more ways than one, laid the foundation for what the franchise is today.
Gameplay (Gunplay mostly)
A third-person shooter at its core, Red Dead Revolver’s shooting mechanic is varied and interesting, yet still a bit stiff to master. Players use shoulder buttons to fire, and face buttons to reload, and to stick your back to an object, such as a crate or wall for cover. It is possible for you to peak out from the objects in order to pop off a few shots at your foes. However, this also allows for your foes to quickly gun you down with some well placed (I’d rather say unnatural guidance) shots. Therefore, the developers were generous enough to put in the ability to strafe with a lock-on mechanic while using the analog control to maneuver the camera. You can also punch enemies when they’re up close but I wouldn’t recommend it on higher difficulties.
The basic shooting mechanics are solid, but the movement mechanics are a little wonky. For instance, in the level when you jump a train from your moving horse, the game is very unpolished. The action to jump to the train isn’t consistently clear, or always do-able. In another instance, when your character is hit or shot down, he or she sometimes rolls, staying down on the ground for some time, occasionally becoming vulnerable to punishment. It’s only a few seconds, but it seems like eons when you’re in a fight, and it could mean life or death. Lastly, when using corners to hide behind and shot from is also awkward, as the collision detection doesn’t always enable you to shoot past a wall’s edge. An enemy might be able to, but you cannot always. Mechanically, this game is not very smooth nor polished.
Thankfully, you have a wide variety of weapons to use in order to remedy these cheap situations. From average six-shooters and shotguns to the most overpowered rifles, bows, and throwable weaponry (dynamite, snake venom, etc.) you should be able to deal with any situation. The downside to these weaponry is that most of them can either be bought via spending currency you get from completing each mission (and the fact that you can replay each mission to get better results just means faster monetary gain) or unlocked through the course of the story. This means that you can just play the missions over and over again until you have that “sweet” weapon that basically is a one-shot killer.
Borrowing from Max Payne, Red Dead Revolver enables players to shoot at enemies in what’s called Dead Eye, or in common speak, Bullet Time. This works a little different than what you’d expect. Players build up a segmented meter by shooting enemies, and when it’s filled they can press down on the analog to enact the slowdown. Once triggered, they target an enemy or enemies and tag them with red marks. You tag an enemy with as many tags as you have bullets loaded in your gun. Once complete, you’ll unload on him and watch him keel over like the stupid thug he is.
Finally, during certain events in the game, players will enter into a duel with special individuals. Thank god for the generous checkpoints the game provides you because if anywhere the game difficulty spikes during gameplay, its with the duels. You have to be quick, yet patient because moving to early or late will result in a penalty that basically screws you no matter how you look at it. The best advice I can give you is after a few deaths, you should know the tell-tell signs of the character and will be able to emerge victorious.
Credit to VicioJuegos for the image.
Gameplay (Missions and Environment)
When it comes to missions (a.k.a levels) don’t expect much variety when you’re playing as the main character Red. Aside from a few areas where you get to play as different characters (I’ll get to that later) you’ll mostly run through all the stereotypical places you’d see in a western movie, such as: a ghost town, a canyon, train sequences and forrest areas. Mostly these areas were dull enough to navigate the first time around, and sadly it hasn’t aged any better since the game was released in 2004. Still, you have to give it to the developers for planning a unique layout of each map, thus keeping players on their toes as they have to look at all aspects of the frame just in case a lone gunman decides to take a pop at you.
However, there are moments in the game where you will take on the role of one of the six central characters to the story. It is on the missions where the game truly shines as these characters not only bring personality to the story, but are also connected to the environment the player is currently exploring. Take Jack Swift for example: He’s a traveling showman who relies on dual pistols to get the job done. During one sequence in the game, you’ll have Jack navigating a tow that’s been taken over by a evil carnival ringleader. The main kicker… is that Jack used to travel with the group and must end the level in a final showdown to see who is the victor.
That’s what really makes the rest of the game so disappointing. Here are levels filled to the brim with emotions, story ties that are actually engaging, and enemies that actually serve as a purpose to hunt down and kill. And then you have the main character Red and his mission levels (a.k.a. ever other place in the game!). Though you can clearly tell he was inspired by Clint Eastwood’s various western portrayals, the guy hardly speaks throughout the whole game. It’s one thing to be silent for crucial part of the story, but when you hardly open your mouth for seven to eight hours, it’s frustrating as hell besides also being a missed opportunity by developers.
The narrative is by far the weakest part of the game. It reads like any spaghetti western you’ve seen on TV: Boy’s family is killed for unknown reasons; boy swears revenge; boy grows up; kills a bunch of people while interacting with other characters storylines; final boss confrontation and Congratulations hope you’ve enjoyed the game! Like I stated above, the characters that have special missions attached to them are fun to play, but if you attach them to the overall plot of the game (which they are), then they become reduced to scenes of what could have been a great thing all together.
The game also tries to deal with issues of greed, power, and revenge in its plot, but they are pushed so far off the sideline that you don’t care whether or not they get resolved by the time the credits run down the screen.
It should be noted that this game did have multiplayer aspects to it. Giving you the run of the mill game modes (Deathmatch, Capture the flag, etc.) players were forced to fight each other on a spilt screen. The size depended on how many players were plugged in at the moment. It is unknown whether the game supported Online competition as the severs have shut down and it is impossible to get into a lobby screen.
While the game uses certain mechanics that would later evolve into what we’ve come to enjoy in Red Dead redemption, the overall lack of mission variety/environment and a story that is pathetic at best really bogs down the experience. Add in the fact that enemies can get cheap shots when certain mechanics refuse to work doesn’t do the game any benefits. On the other hand, for its time Red Dead Revolver gave us an opportunity to be a badass gunslinger like the ones we had seen up on the silver screen. I appreciate the memories this game gave me, but I think its time to look onto the future and let the past remain buried