Ain’t nuthin’ like ridin’ a fine horse in new country.

One of the biggest and most anticipated games of the year has launched to massive praise, that game? Red Dead Redemption 2.

In Red Dead Redemption 2 you play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw with the Van Der Linde gang, which some of you may recognise from the first Red Dead Redemption game, in which you play as John Marston who is chasing said gang. Well, funny story, John Marston is also in the game as an NPC in which you get to do some missions with him.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is set as a prequel to the first game, and in this game, it gives you more of an insight into what the gang was like previous to the events from the first game.

This is one of those things that I always love to see, the linking of the series together, Rockstar could probably have shown a new and different story from a seperate part of the world, and introduced a completely new gang, but having the games and worlds link, bringing those stories together so that we can see what has happened previously, and sort of what has maybe lead up to that point is brilliant. I say maybe because I haven’t completed the story mode yet, there is just so much to see and do it is unreal. As I am about the mention the world is massive, and even after 30-40+ hours playing the game, I don’t feel like I’ve even scratched the surface despite also feeling like I have done so much.

One of the things that I absolutely love within the game as well is the fact that every single NPC within the game can be interacted with. You can rob them, greet or antagonise them depending on how you’re feeling. This depth is fantastic, being able to speak to anyone in the world, defuse situations as well as wind people up into attacking you and then finding you can just shoot them or punch them and knock them on there backsides. Brilliant and satisfying.

You unlock treasure maps within the game which are a massive help in opening up the full map as they all take you to different areas and really get you exploring the map. Way points are going to be a godsend in this game as there is no way I am going to be able to memorise the full map and how to get to where I am going. This is where I applaud anyone who is playing with the HUD switched off and just rides to try and find the location they are after. It’s a good way to find your way around and open the map up as well.

The open world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is absolutely massive and I think one of the biggest open world games that I’ve played in. The world is absolutely stunning, the different areas built into the game are so unique and have their own personality. From snow-capped mountains to bustling lively towns, Red Dead Redemption 2 has everything you could ask for. What makes them so brilliant though is how alive they are, not just with the people riding about and random events that occur on the road side, it’s the wildlife as well, with around 200 different species scattered across the vast land, there is always something different for you to see, hunt and do.

Let’s not pull any punches here, the game is absolutely stunning, one of the main things that blew me away was how well the colours and lighting had been used in the game to bring the landscape to life, how the weather could suddenly change and how seamless that would be. For example, if you went to sleep and woke up in the morning, there were times you could see fog rolling across the land and see the suns haze shining through, but as you go on your travels and the morning draws on, the fog would clear faultlessly and you have a beautiful morning to ride around on your horse.

Your horse is the way to get around in the game, you have to look after it, feed it, brush it, keep it calm when things are going down with shootouts, or there is a predator near.

The higher your bond level with the horse, the more it will trust you and is less likely to buck when things are going south. I have to admit, I had an emotional moment, someone started shooting at me and my horse bucked and kicked me off, in the surrounding shootout then my horse was shot dead.

Needless to say my hulk rage arrived and I went from the cover I was behind and dual wielded my guns and started shooting the place up. Anyone in my way was dead, I had a lovely connection with that horse and we had been through a lot and for it to end because someone decided to shoot him, wasn’t right.

This shows part of the realism that is in Red Dead Redemption 2, creating that bond between man and horse, between the gang you’re a part of, the game brings together and has that element of family, albeit a dysfunctional one, but it still shows how when working as brothers (and sisters) and looking after each other, anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind too.

There are also the finer details within the game that I absolutely loved, things such as leaving a dead body lying around, if you go back past the same body a few days later, there is a good chance that the body will have been looted of its clothes and the birds are now pecking away at the corpse. Lovely stuff!

Also, being able to style your hair back at your tent and shave your beard. Over time your hair and beard will go and unless you’re going full on with your beard, then it will need trimming. You have different lengths in which you can trim to, if you just want a tidy up you can do that, or you can get rid of the full thing.

You can style your beard so you have a moustache, goatee, full beard or chops. I have gone with the chops, because, why not?! But this all adds to the realism the game is portraying. Bringing the world to life, making sure Arthur eats, which is important as I have just checked my companion app and Arthur is apparently underweight in my game which has knock on effects. You have to make sure your horse is well looked after and that your guns are in a good condition.

Yes, this is another thing that you have to keep an eye on. Over time your guns will deteriorate and will need looking after, this is where the gun oil you can find and buy comes in handy as this will clean and maintain your weapon, without doing this it will degrade and not be as effective.

There are plenty side quests and missions that you can undertake within Red Dead Redemption 2, these can come from people within the towns, or you might find people out and about on the side of the road or just randomly somewhere within. The side of the road type missions tend to be quite quick missions where you end up taking someone to the nearest town as there horse has collapsed and died, or they just need help sorting something quickly. There are also longer ones which require you to find a certain number of items, such as the 30 dinosaur bones or the treasure maps you can find. The treasure maps are the quickest way to get money as each one will provide you with a number of gold bricks which are worth $500 each when sold at a fence, or you can add it to the camps funds to help out there.

With some missions though you do have to be careful as not everyone is nice, there are some people who will try and rob you, however if you’re quick with Dead Eye, then you should have no problem sorting them out.

Dead Eye is back in the game. Dead Eye allows you to slow down time and mark up several enemies to shoot simultaneously, which when there are several people in front of you, can be handy to use to sort out a problem quickly.

I’m not going to sugar coat things for the game, on the whole, the game is fantastic and I have to admit it is probably one of the best games I have played. But there are some issues with the game, going into busy areas such as towns or where there is a lot of people/livestock does cause a framerate drop which is very noticeable and you can see Arthur and everything else stuttering across the screen. Once you leave the area though everything is fine, I hope this is something that can be patched as I can see it getting a bit annoying if the framerate is constantly all over the place in these busy areas.

Another question I wanted to pose was in regards to the bounty system and how it works. Basically, the bounty system is used when you commit a crime, depending on the crime depends on the amount that is added to it. The higher the bounty the more likely you’re going to get Bounty hunters after you, which if you’re on your way to a mission and you get ambushed it can be a pain.

Now my beef with the system is that I feel it doesn’t work as intended, or to put it another way, it feels very sensitive. I have committed murders in game, im not going to lie about it, I am an outlaw Joon and have done what is necessary, sometimes though, this has been done with no one about, nobody in sight of me, yet the crime still gets reported. By whom? It’s like the old philosophy saying “If a tree falls in an empty wood, does it make a sound”… Well, on this logic for Red Dead Redemption 2, the answer is yes…. Someone will see what I’ve done…. It’s like having the eye of Sauron watching you.

This has happened on several occasions and there are times I’ve been recognised while wearing my bandana even with a change of clothes. Strange goings on, and one of the strangest I’ve had, I was on my horse going into Valentine, another horse crossed my path and ploughed into me, I was given a bounty for unarmed assault… What the?! He crossed in front of me!

Overall, I think this is going up there as perhaps one of my favourite games of all time, yes it has a few issues, but when you look at how the game looks, the fine details that have gone into it, the variety of missions and quests available, it’s hard not to see how brilliant the game is.

It doesn’t happen often, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is getting full marks.