Have you ever gone back to play an older, cherished video game and discover the experience still holds up or does it fold under your current expectations?
In the month of January, during the peak of winter, I requested an RMA for my 7900 XTX. This time of year I usually catch up on my backlog when I can’t go outdoors and enjoy the snow. No snow… no fun. So let’s just say, I was quite cheesed
to find out the most expensive video card I had ever purchased, was unavailable during the short time I have to catch up.
While I am now primarily a PC gamer, I have two consoles always active. The lastest Nintendo console (switch) and my Xbox 360. Yes, I always have my 360 plugged in. In my brief and short opinion, it represents my favourite console generation that delivered the golden age of both indie and modern 3D gaming. Braid and Bioshock are immediate examples that come to mind. It’s also great for guitar hero / rock band with friends. A small tradition at our household. Anyway, that is another discussion.
With that out of the way, I was looking to sink my teeth into something more substantial. I have clear, definitive favourite games from days past. Metroid Prime will always remain my favourite but I wanted to introduce my wife to another game that I have highly spoken of, to her, on many occasions. Yet never played with her.
That game is Red Dead Redemption. I’ve got to say, upon loading the game there was this eerie feeling that quickly settled in. The last auto save date was from March 2011. I booted it up and was a bit unsettled by the quality of the visuals and performance.
That said, I knew it would be hard to establish and discuss the context of the game and what I
thought makes it truly unique - the world, with my wife by jumping into a twelve year old save file.
So I quickly told her about the expansion, Undead Nightmare, and decided to start there to jump into the core mechanics and keep it light hearted.
Thirty minutes passed and we started to settle in. There were some small hurdles, especially getting used to the Rockstar third person controls again (a little sluggish) but after the initial period… It happened. Just as it happened twelve years ago. I was hooked. Everything I thought the game was, held up incredibly well.
Even at 720p and barely holding 30fps, the game and more importantly, the world, was incredibly intoxicating. Especially upscaled on a 4K OLED… My mind immediately went to drawing comparisons against the prequel, Red Dead Redemption II. What I gathered, rather quickly, is that the original game doesn’t burden the player as much as Red Dead Redemption II.
It’s more accessible but in the right way that isn’t patronizing to the player. There is no overwhelming sense of responsibility by tending the camp, brushing your horse, making coffee, or cutting your hair. Yes, those are optional gameplay mechanics but… it’s your immediate interactions that are available once completing the very impressive introduction chapter. That leaves a strong impression on the player and in my mind, could potentially burden the player.
In Red Dead Redemption, you can quickly jump on your horse, hog tie enemies, get into duels, and all other sorts of western shenanigans in a dense, detailed world with strong and believable characters. I can, with confidence defend that it was and still is, one of the best open world games ever made. This does not undermine the prequel but I can easily get engrossed in the world of the original more effectively than the prequel. Even if the graphics, audio, story, and other core pieces of scope are improved in the more recent title.
I ended up putting about eight hours into the game over the past week. I beat the expansion for the first time and I have created a new save file in the base game, ready to go again. All the while, my wife, who is not really a fan of video gaming in general, followed along. Asking questions about the characters and enjoying watching enemies getting blasted in dead eye (slow down) mode.
Fast forward to a couple days ago, I received my 7900 XTX replacement. It works and it’s great. However, I can’t help but think about booting up my 360 to jump back into the world of Red Dead Redemption.
I really enjoy these types of discussions and understanding how a medium, like video games, can positively (or negatively) impact a person. Usually I save them for in person interactions with friends and colleagues but this time, I thought I would share it here. Where I am usually more active in a digital, ”social” sense.
Feel free to chime in with your own experience with any other game. Or not. Up to you but I love Red Dead Redemption and I hope others too. Maybe one day… it will finally come to PC!