PS3 + Red Dead Redemption = lonely, lonely Pecinpah
June 2, 2010 6:18 PM   Subscribe

Anyone want to form a Red Dead Redemption posse (PS3)?

This is for anyone not familiar with MeFightclub (as I was not until about 10 minutes ago)...

...I just got Red Dead Redemption for PS3 last week, and the on-line multiplayer is pretty amazing (as is the single player). However, I am the only person I know who owns a PS3; literally everyone else I know owns an xBox 360. I don't want to switch systems for economic reasons (also, I hate the 360's controllers), but I'd like to have some on-line 'buddies' to meet up and form posses with, in this and other games. And that is where you cowpokes (potentially) come in...

...Are there any MeFites here who own both a PS3 and a copy of Red Dead Redemption? Furthermore, are there any of that rare and select group who would like to friend me and saddle up?

I'm on as pecinpah, of course.
posted by Pecinpah to MetaFilter Gatherings at 6:18 PM (91 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I haven't looked at the multiplayer stuff, despite giving the game a glowing review on my site.

What does the multiplayer gameplay actually entail?
posted by Netzapper at 6:54 PM on June 2, 2010


Wouldn't this be better in AskMe? Nah, just kidding.

I've got a 360, but they tell me that RDR is like Grand Theft Horse. Which sounds pretty awesome. Is it worth buying?
posted by box at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2010


Mefightclub.com
posted by lohmannn at 7:03 PM on June 2, 2010


Oh, in case that wasn't clear, the answer to your question is Yes.
posted by lohmannn at 7:04 PM on June 2, 2010


I've got a 360, but they tell me that RDR is like Grand Theft Horse. Which sounds pretty awesome. Is it worth buying?

If you don't mind the self-link, here's my review of it. Conclusion: one of the best games I've played.
posted by Netzapper at 7:07 PM on June 2, 2010


And it isn't Grand Theft Horse. You know that thing you do in GTA, where you just start shooting everybody until the cops show up, then you kill a bunch of cops and drive off in a high speed pursuit?

Yeah, I bet you don't feel like doing that in RDR. Because the folks in RDR actually feel alive, and you don't want to make their shitty lives any worse.
posted by Netzapper at 7:08 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd love to. Of course, I'm waiting to find out if the Japan release will have English support, or if I'll have to get the game sent to me.

(currently sucked back into MW2, occasionally playing BFBC2, and Borderlands as well, if anyone is interested. Also, Little Big Planet)
posted by Ghidorah at 7:32 PM on June 2, 2010


You know that thing you do in GTA, where you just start shooting everybody until the cops show up, then you kill a bunch of cops and drive off in a high speed pursuit?

My mom saw me playing Grand Theft Auto 3 (painfully downloaded over Kazaa using dialup) beating some old lady to death on the sidewalk. She got quite upset and asked "Those are bad people you're killing, right?"
posted by dunkadunc at 7:48 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't have the game, but it's definitely on my radar, might pick it up this weekend. Add me to that list. I'm still trying to unlock the last set of missions for Spec Ops on CODMW2...

And I have BFBC2 as well, beat it, but never touched the multiplayer.
posted by TomMelee at 8:12 PM on June 2, 2010


Oh, in case that wasn't clear, the answer to your question is Yes.

Yep, whole bunch of people playing the game over at Mefight Club (not me, because I'm a PC stalwart, and will have to wait until like 2011 when Rockstar decides to release it on PC and botches the port so badly that you'll need a computer from the future to play it sigh).

And I have BFBC2 as well, beat it, but never touched the multiplayer.

We have a dedicated server for it (along with our bevy of TF2 and L4D2 servers). I haven't played the game, but multiplayer's apparently a lot more fun when you have nice people to play with. Which is true with most things.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:45 PM on June 2, 2010


It's Grand Theft Auto for adults.

It's an amazing game and I think a landmark of the form. Gorgeous, incredibly well-written and acted, epic in scope and without the wildly inconsistent tonal shifts between juvenile mayhem and serious drama that marred GTA IV. It's probably right up there with the best film westerns.

The only flaws that bugged me were minor physics glitches.

If you love games, you owe it to yourself to buy it.
posted by empath at 8:47 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have it on xbox, btw, if anyone wants to round up a posse:

empathogen75 is my screen name.
posted by empath at 8:47 PM on June 2, 2010


What does the multiplayer gameplay actually entail?

Mostly riding around the empty wilderness ganking newbs, from what I can tell.
posted by empath at 8:49 PM on June 2, 2010


Okay last post: Netzapper, I also thought some of the missions in the mexico section were bullshit. I made myself feel slightly better about it by killing all of the soldiers loitering around the mission area after it was over.
posted by empath at 8:54 PM on June 2, 2010


Okay, I lied, one more SPOILERy post.

I understand why they made the missions you ran for that person despicable, to make it more satisfying when you eventually killed the son of a bitch. And you could make a justification that you didn't have a choice, and he was going to continue to rape and pillage the population whether you helped him or not.

I think slightly more interesting is considering what they were going for in making the rebel leader a womanizer, cynic and a bigot. Comparing the two choices, he was probably the better option, but your last conversation with him showed that he had no interest in governing, only in feeding his ego.
posted by empath at 9:06 PM on June 2, 2010


Pecinpah: "posted by Pecinpah to MetaFilter Gatherings at 6:18 PM"

Eponysterical!
posted by brundlefly at 9:31 PM on June 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


TomMelee, I'm pretty much the opposite. I've really only played the multiplayer of BC2. It's just that good, as long as you've got a decent squad/side working with you. If you're just joining up randomly, you're not likely to have as much fun. The game gives concrete rewards to team play (healing someone on the same side, for example, is fifty points, but healing a squad member is 80), and can be a heck of a lot of fun, in a more rewarding and team-oriented way than MW2.

MW2's edge is the never-ending level's/prestige/unlocking gravy-train that seems so adictive.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:41 PM on June 2, 2010


I would be up for a 360-based posse. My name is the same as this one. I do so hope I can dress like Al Swearengen.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:53 PM on June 2, 2010


agreed on Bad Company 2. If you got a good squad on a full server, it's amazing. If you get stuck with a squad full of fucking snipers, it's awful.

Unfortunately, I end up with the latter all too often.

When I play recon, I don't even use the sniper rifle. I play with an auto shotgun and c4 with explosive upgrades and regularly come out in first place. Charge the point, spam radar, and drop c4 on the objective, and you get huge points. I also tend to drop c4 on chokepoints and wait for vehicles.

My second pet peeve is Assaults that don't drop ammo. I've literally followed squad members around the map begging them to drop ammo and they don't do it. I'd love to play engineer, but if I can't refill on ammo without dying, it's pointless.
posted by empath at 9:53 PM on June 2, 2010


!!!VAGUE SPOILER ALERT!!!

empath, you're absolutely right about the rebel versus the governor. And if you read the newspaper after you finish the game (I bought mine in Thieves' Landing, dunno if it's sold elsewhere), it talks about his misrule in Mexico.

But, here's the thing: it still seems subtly wrong to force a character, in a format obsessed with free roam and emergent gameplay, to do great evil just so that it's more satisfying when you take vengeance later. I'm not denying that the missions were emotionally charged; they definitely made me feel boxed into a corner disappointed with myself.

My problem is explicitly with including that kind of forced path in a sandbox game with a moral reputation mechanic. When there's apparently such a clearcut choice between good and evil, it sticks in my craw to have my agency hemmed in by not allowing me to choose. I'd gone out of my way the whole game to always do the right thing. And to have to do the wrong thing in order to advance was offensive. Especially given that, within the game's story, the general does not help you advance. Had he been the one to turn over my quarry, I might not have been so pissed off. But, he doesn't. It isn't a situation where I make a choice to help the evil dude to get what I want (i.e. selfishness), but rather a situation where I did pointless evil in order to get the game to unlock the next mission.

There's considerable precedent in sandbox games for mutually exclusive mission trees--and they can be a benefit to replay value. And it would have made the rebel's victory that much more painful as you realize the "good" choice you made turns out to be another wrong one.

I would have liked to see the Mexico mission arcs be mutually exclusive and the Blackwater mission arc be extended. I really felt like the Blackwater stuff got short shrift. Hell, extend the ranching sequence at the end if you just want more play time. After all the evil I'd done in the game, I loved that part--although, I guess, I can see how a fifteen year old might think it's boring and just want more killin'.

Incidentally, I also shot the Mexican soldiers. They're the only bounty-raising guys I killed in my entire playthrough... although I did accidentally run over a sheriff with my horse once.
posted by Netzapper at 10:06 PM on June 2, 2010


Well that brings up a point about agency in games. One of the tools of the artists palate in games that doesn't exist in movies is player agency, which enables him to draw on emotions like guilt, which are difficult if not impossible to evoke in non-interactive media.

You as a player don't want to feel guilty, but what if the game designer wants to make a point that requires it?

I think they could have finessed it more so it seemed like you didn't have any choice -- pointing out that fighting it would have just gotten everyone killed and how you had to bide your time. I mean, that was how I justified it -- first chance I get, I'm going to kill the son of a bitch and enjoy it.

Another thing is that rape and abuse of women was a theme of the game from the beginning. It seemed endemic to the background of the game. By the time that came up, the whole situation seemed hopeless.
posted by empath at 10:30 PM on June 2, 2010


I just want to go on the record here saying that I felt pretty unhappy shooting all the critters for the ambient challenges, and was in many ways quite glad when Marston got bowled over and savaged by cougars. I'm just waiting for the DLC which is probably going to be all "Knife a deer through the spine and watch it hobble away and slowly bleed to death in agony" and "Kill 700 bluebirds with your lasso".
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:33 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


ps3: panopticontology
posted by freebird at 10:43 PM on June 2, 2010


I just want to go on the record here saying that I felt pretty unhappy shooting all the critters for the ambient challenges, and was in many ways quite glad when Marston got bowled over and savaged by cougars.

It should probably be pointed out that they're entirely optional and in the fourth act, a Native American gives a little lecture on how the white man is going to wipe out the buffalo if they aren't careful, and Marston lectures his son about not killing any more animals than he needed to.
posted by empath at 10:47 PM on June 2, 2010


Oh, I know that, but they're fake critters so I didn't feel too bad, but I still felt some bad. They make little chirrups when you blast them with your Winchester!
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:50 PM on June 2, 2010


Well that brings up a point about agency in games. One of the tools of the artists palate in games that doesn't exist in movies is player agency, which enables him to draw on emotions like guilt, which are difficult if not impossible to evoke in non-interactive media.

Oh, no, I absolutely agree. I did feel guilty, and I liked that (well, you know what I mean).

Again, my issue is purely with requiring it through unmotivated game mechanics. I didn't have a problem with No Russian in Modern Warfare 2, because the game is built around a linear progression through levels in the standard FPS mold. You keep moving forward, shooting everything that moves, until you get to the next level, where you repeat. Since I never have a choice of what the mission is, I didn't feel betrayed by having to play No Russian--which, incidentally, caused me guilt.

This isn't the case with RDR. While the story missions do describe a quasi-linear path (multi-linear?), much effort has been put into making you feel like an individual in this world, making choices. Up until the Mexico missions, the choices have been pretty clear, and you're not really asked to do anything a genuine antihero wouldn't have done. So, the lack of real choice didn't cause any dissonance.

But you get to Mexico, and suddenly the lack of real choice in story missions suddenly bites you right in the nose. It's like breaking the fourth wall in a heretofore serious drama. It violates a basic tenet of the world it's created so far. If they had given me even the slightest reason to believe that I'd have made the same distasteful, hard, painful decision, I wouldn't feel so betrayed. But, as it is, it's feels like Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes takes the pipe out of his mouth, turns to the camera and says, "The clues are totally irrelevant. You know we catch him in the end."

Another thing is that rape and abuse of women was a theme of the game from the beginning. It seemed endemic to the background of the game. By the time that came up, the whole situation seemed hopeless.

I didn't notice this, aside from the random encounters of johns attacking whores. And I always helped the whores, mind you.

Could you provide examples? (Not a trick question, really didn't notice.)
posted by Netzapper at 11:07 PM on June 2, 2010


Will someone please explain how target lock works in this game? Is it the same as GTA IV? Or something different?

I really, really enjoyed Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter's system. Is Red Dead Redemption's at all similar?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:19 PM on June 2, 2010



Another thing is that rape and abuse of women was a theme of the game from the beginning. It seemed endemic to the background of the game.

I didn't notice this, aside from the random encounters of johns attacking whores.

Could you provide examples? (Not a trick question, really didn't notice.)


Certainly even though you save her, the bandits threaten to rape Bonnie.
Plus there's the DeSanta mission where you round up women for Allende.
There's a stranger mission involving a whore named Eva.


I have it on the ps3, but I'm currently taking my time with the single player and not really enthused about the multi. That may change when the free coop dlc drops.

dc_juv3nal on psn. please mention you're from metafilter if you add me.
posted by juv3nal at 11:22 PM on June 2, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: There is no explicit target lock.

If you put the reticle over/near something, then draw/point your weapon (left shoulder button), the reticle should track the target until you change the point of aim with the right stick (or move?). I also seem to recall that there are some circumstances where this doesn't work, but I can't remember exactly what they are.

Basically, Dead Eye makes up for lack of explicit target lock.
posted by Netzapper at 11:25 PM on June 2, 2010


I didn't notice this, aside from the random encounters of johns attacking whores

Rape or implied rape was an undercurrent in a pretty significant percentage of the missions throughout the game. Women are often treated as property to be traded. It was even implied that your wife had been communal property of the gang. I don't think there's a single female character in the game who wasn't threatened with rape at one point or another.
posted by empath at 11:41 PM on June 2, 2010


Certainly even though you save her, the bandits threaten to rape Bonnie.
Plus there's the DeSanta mission where you round up women for Allende.
There's a stranger mission involving a whore named Eva.


There's also the mission where your asked to force a woman to marry a man against her will. If you pull a gun on her (like I did), she goes back, and then sits in the saloon crying.
posted by empath at 11:47 PM on June 2, 2010


Rape or implied rape was an undercurrent in a pretty significant percentage of the missions throughout the game...I don't think there's a single female character in the game who wasn't threatened with rape at one point or another.

Hmm, this is true.

May I ask... are you criticizing this? It seems pretty clear to me that Rockstar isn't condoning raping and abusing women, given that pretty much everybody who does so gets their comeuppance.

I guess that while this definitely was there, it was far more explicit in the Mexico missions. And, furthermore, only in Mexico was I expected to assist as opposed to punish.

Women are often treated as property to be traded. It was even implied that your wife had been communal property of the gang.

I didn't notice either of these things, though.

The only lines I can recall that would imply that about Marston's wife is when Dutch is saying everybody had slept with her. But, I read that as meaning she'd been a whore, and so everybody had paid her for her services at some point. Seems reasonable that if there are only a few hookers in town, everybody in a gang of outlaws would've tried all of them out.
posted by Netzapper at 11:53 PM on June 2, 2010


BitterOldPunk on Xbox Live. Is the MeFi Friends account active? I sent a friend request like a month ago and haven't heard back....

I feel slightly guilty for rampaging through the animal kingdom, too. Well, I did, until I got attacked by the Invisible Cougar That Moves At Light Speed for the thirtieth time. Fuck that. Eat lead, bad kitteh.

I haven't had much fun with the multiplayer yet, because I suck at multiplayer games and apparently appear to other players as a trussed lamb with a target spraypainted on my delicate hide. I did once shoot someone off their horse and then they shot me in the face. So that was kinda fun.

I won't be on Xbox Live for about a week as I'm waiting to replace a broken TV, but I'll respond to all friend requests then.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:54 PM on June 2, 2010


There's also the mission where your asked to force a woman to marry a man against her will. If you pull a gun on her (like I did), she goes back, and then sits in the saloon crying.

Whoa, didn't find that one. Is there the option of shooting the dude instead?
posted by Netzapper at 11:55 PM on June 2, 2010


You could pay him $5 for the info you needed. I talked to his wife cause I didn't know how opposed she was to going back, and then I wanted to see what happened when you threatened her. Which was -100 honor and the crying. Oh, well. I felt bad about it.
posted by empath at 12:01 AM on June 3, 2010


May I ask... are you criticizing this?

I don't know how I feel about it, honestly. I think it's probably somewhat realistic and generally is treated with the gravity it deserves, but I'd like to hear what some women think about it.

I can't think of another game that has dealt with rape so directly and consistently.
posted by empath at 12:04 AM on June 3, 2010


(mainstream game, that is)
posted by empath at 12:04 AM on June 3, 2010


I guess I'll be the dissenting voice and say that I appreciated the Mexico missions. Up until that point, I'd been playing as the total good guy hero of the West type. Marston kept talking about what a bad guy he was, but I didn't really experience that until Mexico, where he's willing to fall in with anyone who can help him accomplish his goals. Those missions drove home the ruthlessness of his character in a way that I don't think I would have felt otherwise.

(Minor spoilers follow, abbreviations used to mitigate)

My only real complaint about the Mexico act is that they didn't lock the later LR missions until after doing some work for DS; in the later missions LR talks about Marston playing both sides, but because I did all the LR missions in a row I hadn't actually worked both sides yet.

(Spoilers end)

As for the rape stuff, it's pretty prominent and despicable, but I liken it to the storekeepers talking about the filthy Jews and all of the "whites are superior" stuff from newspapers and NPCs later in the game; it's abundantly clear that they're satirizing and mocking what was once a prevailing viewpoint, and at no point did I feel like the creators thought those views are remotely justified. Still, triggers do abound, so be warned.

Still, one of the best games I've ever played and certainly the best Rockstar game I've ever played. They so clearly improve on their open-world concept from game to game that I have a lot of hope for what they'll do next.

I'm just digging into the multiplayer now, having finished the single-player today. XBox Live name is Errantmystic, say something about MeFi in your request please.
posted by Errant at 12:54 AM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Marston kept talking about what a bad guy he was, but I didn't really experience that until Mexico, where he's willing to fall in with anyone who can help him accomplish his goals. Those missions drove home the ruthlessness of his character in a way that I don't think I would have felt otherwise.

Operative word here is "was". The guy quit outlawing and is just trying to be a rancher when the marshal turns up and kidnaps his family.

It seemed to me that an important aspect of the game is that Marston is trying to tread the straight and narrow nowadays. He has the temptation to slip back into his old ways, but (depending on player choices) is doing his damndest to put that all behind him. Also, if you listen to his dialog and watch his body language during the DS missions, it's pretty clear that he's as uncomfortable with the proposition as we are. He even says, "You expect me to do that?" with regards to torching the village.

Furthermore, while the written character in a game like this certainly provides the personality of your avatar, ultimately you are the agent in the experience. So, here I am, trying to be a hero. And then, all of a sudden, I'm expected to do a bunch of morally reprehensible shit in order to progress. Up until this point, I've had the option not to. But, at this point, that agency is revoked, and I'm railroaded down a path I didn't intend to follow.

It causes some serious cognitive dissonance for me is all. I don't think it's necessarily bad design in any objective sense, though. Shooting from horseback... that was bad design, though.

Still, one of the best games I've ever played and certainly the best Rockstar game I've ever played. They so clearly improve on their open-world concept from game to game that I have a lot of hope for what they'll do next.

The improvement is not monotonic. GTA4 wasn't much fun at all, whereas GTA3 (and its sub-sequels) was a riot. Red Dead Revolver was excellent, but Manhunt was lame. Bully and Max Payne 1 & 2 are awesome, but Midnight Club is rather ho-hum. This inconsistency is mostly due to the fact that there is no "Rockstar", only a collection of studios owned by Take-Two (which also owns 2K Games).
posted by Netzapper at 1:29 AM on June 3, 2010


FYI, the Mefi Wiki has a big roster of Mefite accounts on the various gaming networks (Xbox, Playstation, Wii, Steam, WoW, EVE, etc.).
posted by Rhaomi at 2:06 AM on June 3, 2010


Wait a minute ... last time I checked Mefightclub, it was PC only. It supports consoles now? I thought that was technically undoable for server-related reasons?
posted by jbickers at 2:49 AM on June 3, 2010


Most of us mostly play PC games, but we have many people who also play various things on various consoles (including Red Dead Redemption, lately).

Not sure exactly what you mean, but if you're referring to Battlefield Whatchamacallit, I think you'd be right that only people who own it on PC can play it on our server (but like I said, I don't play the game, so I dunno).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:04 AM on June 3, 2010


It was something to do with matchmaking, and how you couldn't run dedicated servers for consoles. Or something.
posted by jbickers at 3:11 AM on June 3, 2010


(Screams from outside the thread)
NERDS!
(Until he decides to buy another PS3)
posted by hal_c_on at 3:20 AM on June 3, 2010


This BFBC2 server, it is ps3, or it is pc? I have the mefightclub account, have for like a couple years, but I'm apparently not intelligent enough to figure out how to actually join the games.
posted by TomMelee at 4:28 AM on June 3, 2010


PC. Server info here. I think this is the ongoing thread, but there are others. Feel free to pop in and ask for more info from those who are in the BFBC2 know! We're friendly like that and new cannon fodder swell pals are always welcome...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:12 AM on June 3, 2010


(Again, though, I don't know how and where the lines are drawn with that game for consoles/PCs.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 AM on June 3, 2010


Yea, fail. I've got a beast of a quadcore here but it's a development console, so I play the games on the ps-tres.

Oh well. I'm about to go downstairs and hop online w/ it now to see if I like it.
posted by TomMelee at 5:28 AM on June 3, 2010


empath: "You could pay him $5 for the info you needed. I talked to his wife cause I didn't know how opposed she was to going back, and then I wanted to see what happened when you threatened her. Which was -100 honor and the crying."

Incoherently, there's no honor loss at all for lassoing and hogtying her and just hauling her bodily back to the bar. Which, like dealing with horse thieves targeting yourself but not others, just proves the Lasso Control debate bromide of "Lassos don't dishonor, guns do!"
posted by Drastic at 5:32 AM on June 3, 2010


Midnight Club is rather ho-hum

I admit, I bought the first and third editions for the soundtracks. Nothing like bouncing through Detroit accompanied by the Submerge roster.
posted by mkb at 6:43 AM on June 3, 2010


then I wanted to see what happened when you threatened her. Which was -100 honor and the crying. Oh, well. I felt bad about it.

I'm pretty sure I didn't lost any honor when I hogtied her and delivered her like a parcel, which was confusing to me, because I felt pretty dishonorable doing it.

Ominous Intent on LIVE, if anyone's interested.

Any Blur players out there?
posted by owtytrof at 6:58 AM on June 3, 2010


I'm also pretty sure I didn't proofread my previous comment when I typed "lost" instead of "lose".
posted by owtytrof at 6:58 AM on June 3, 2010


Slate's take as of yesterday.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:51 AM on June 3, 2010


Netzapper : Conclusion: one of the best games I've played.

I couldn't agree more. There are so many little details that make it just... amazing; the scope, the voice acting, the fact that the in-transit conversations feel organic and entirely add to the depth of the characters, the animal behavior, all of it. (ok, I could do without the sometimes glitchy physics, but that has been a count-on-one-hand-number-of-events kind of problem for me).

I think my biggest enjoyment aspect is coming from the main character Marston. He is an unapologetic killer; he knows what he is, but the way he is portrayed, there is no pleasure in it, and in fact, it clearly hates that his skills and history have put him into this position. It's a remarkably deep character for a video-game.

The horrible mistreatment of women is shocking in the game, and very prevalent. But I think it's done in the service of the story; for me it explains why Marston, who has very positive, non-sexualized, relationships with a number of the female characters, would react the way he does to violence against them. At least that's been my read so far.

I'm totally down with joining a PS3 posse (check my profile for my nic) but I'm still chewing my way through the last bit of the single player and I'm probably going to finish that before I dip my toes too deep into the multi-player side.
posted by quin at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2010


Furthermore, while the written character in a game like this certainly provides the personality of your avatar, ultimately you are the agent in the experience. So, here I am, trying to be a hero. And then, all of a sudden, I'm expected to do a bunch of morally reprehensible shit in order to progress.

I may have confused with my tenses, but what I meant to say is that as I am playing the game, Marston continually talks about what a bad guy and sinner he is. He's trying to going straight but doesn't think that redeems him, and he's probably right about that.

But, yeah, I get the agency aspect of your criticism. I don't really think of the character as being "my" character though; the way I play as Marston may differ from yours in movement on the morality axis and in completion of the side missions, but the storyline takes both of our Marstons from the same starting place to the same ending place and hits all the same notes in-between. There are plenty of times, not just in Mexico, that Marston does things that I wouldn't want him to do, but this isn't an RPG and he's not my character, so I don't find the same dissonance that you do.

Shooting from horseback... that was bad design, though.

I read your complaint about this in your review, but you don't need to have the A or X button continually depressed to maintain speed. Once you're at a clip, you can just hit the button every few beats to keep going; in fact, if you hit it rhythmically instead of holding it down, your horse moves notably faster and the pause between presses allows time for stamina to regenerate. Anyway, I didn't find aiming and shooting between button presses to be all that difficult, and if you're hitting the button while aiming away from the direction of the horse, as long as you're on a road, the horse will stick to that road without you having to direct it. So I actually found the horseback shooting to be relatively well done.

The improvement is not monotonic.

First, I was only talking about their open-world games; I don't enjoy racing games or rail shooters for the most part, so I tend to skip those. Second, I enjoyed GTA IV much more than GTA III (which I hated), so for me it has seemed to be a relatively steady improvement. I agree with you that Bully was awesome, though.
posted by Errant at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2010


This paragraph from the Slate review perhaps more eloquently says what I was trying to:

Again and again, Red Dead Redemption persuaded me to follow its lead. John Marston is not a video-game You. He's a particular kind of man with a particular set of values—he respects women, he's willing to kill but doesn't do it lightly, he doesn't like looting corpses for bullets and pocket change—that are revealed over time. While the writing in Red Dead Redemption is at times overly broad (the oversexed Mexican bandits who exclaim Andale! upon dying come to mind), it is also consistently smart, and the characterizations are surprisingly, and refreshingly, indirect. The game assumes its players are smart, too, and that they're paying attention. (The marital status of one early character is revealed merely by the use of the word Miss.) As a result, when Marston did something I found unexpected—like burning down a peasant village at the behest of the Mexican army, or procuring young women for a corrupt colonel, or spitting on a man, or beating another one in the face—I found myself thinking, I didn't realize he would do that, rather than, I wouldn't have done that.
posted by Errant at 10:42 AM on June 3, 2010


The Bellman on XBL. I just sent friend requests to all of you.

I'm loving RDR, but it's kind of a job even for a die hard RPG fan like me.

BLUR on the other hand, is like candy. So to answer your question, owtytrof, YES! Find me and lets be rivals. I suck at Blur.
posted by The Bellman at 11:13 AM on June 3, 2010


Errant,

Well this is very interesting. You and the Slate reviewer both had a substantially different experience of the game than I did.

For me, this raises an interesting question of the tension between player agency and protagonist character in gaming. In many games there is no tension, as the game progression is perfectly linear and player agency is essentially nil: you aim, you shoot, but what you do is entirely predefined.

But in a sandbox game like this, your choices for what to do between story missions significantly affect how you feel about the rest of the missions. I saved every passing random encounter person, tied up the women who acted as bait for robberies (instead of killing them), protected every whore, caught every shoplifter. I'd saved the wilderness from cannibals.

By the time I got to Mexico, I saw Marston as genuinely trying to be a better man. He was brutal and violent, but had mostly directed that brutality and violence toward honorable aims. A character for whom the ends always justify the means, but whose chosen ends aren't bad. And then the DeSanta missions start up, and for most of them I can still see Marston as pursuing means to an end.

But, in my mind, there's a huge moral difference between setting a trap for the rebels (who are going to kill soldiers if allowed), and burning a village. And there's a difference between beating a monstrous man half to death, and rounding up women to be raped. The Marston that I had seen up to that point wouldn't do those things. Clearly, you and the Slate reviewer had seen a different Marston.
posted by Netzapper at 11:46 AM on June 3, 2010


You are all awesome - I'll add some names to my friend list this evening or the next.

Incidentally, I was nerding out pretty hard with BFBC2 before I got RDR, so I'll probably be seeing a lot of you over there as well.

Thanks!
posted by Pecinpah at 12:06 PM on June 3, 2010


There's a PS3 in my apartment but I have to wait until my SO finishes God of War.
posted by spec80 at 12:07 PM on June 3, 2010


Interesting to me as well, because I played Marston the same way as you, as a flawed man trying to atone for his misdeeds. Maybe the distinction is that where you saw a Marston who wouldn't do those things, full stop, I saw a Marston whose character expanded to encompass those diabolical means. As you correctly point out, he doesn't want to do them and he tries not to, but the Marston I came to see was one who ultimately wouldn't balk at anything if it meant he got his wife and son back.

The New Austin missions were occasionally grey, but for the most part Marston is on the side of law and justice in the Old West, and so it wasn't until Mexico that I really saw the killer in him. In Mexico, he could be on the side of law, or the side of justice, but not both at the same time. At a couple points during Mexico, he's told that not making a choice is also a choice, and that's what he ends up doing: aligning himself with whoever is in the better position to get him the men he needs to get. Adding to that tension is the fact that neither side is really all that good in the second act, a point Marston himself makes to whoever will listen. I definitely agree with you on the moral difference and find the same one myself. For me, that moral tension was heightened by the good I'd attempted to do in the side missions, not obliterated by faulty characterization. If you'll forgive the pun, the Marston I saw grew over the course of the game to include the good, bad, and ugly, and that's a real feat of storytelling.
posted by Errant at 12:26 PM on June 3, 2010


Oh good grief. You guys are going to make me buy this game now.
posted by ooga_booga at 12:32 PM on June 3, 2010


It's real good, probably the game of the year. There's a few annoying bugs and some little things like texture popping and the occasional bad collision detection. I found that installing the game to my hard drive removed most of those issues. (In fact, I had to install the game to get around one game-breaking bug where you need to drive a stagecoach as part of a story mission, but the horses glitch and won't turn. So you may be well-advised to simply install the game right off.)
posted by Errant at 12:51 PM on June 3, 2010


Find me and lets be rivals. I suck at Blur.

Woohoo! You're on!

I'm not exactly fantastic, myself.

Any other takers? I'm good for RDR, too.

Bonus: My avatar wears a bunny suit! Brightens up any friends list!
posted by owtytrof at 1:07 PM on June 3, 2010


Yeah... Where did you get that bunny suit? I got me a nifty hat from RDR.
posted by The Bellman at 1:26 PM on June 3, 2010


Errant, you know what would have helped me see the character in the way you did? If I had ever met the wife and kid at that point.

Marston talks about them all the time, but I never actually felt the yearning for them. They seemed like an arbitrary macguffin, something to provide character motivation but never player motivation. So, while Marston may have been willing to do anything for them, I didn't feel the same way.

I could synpathize with Marston, but I didn't feel the same need to reclaim my family that he does. It's like, the family held hostage is just there to answer the question: why doesn't he shoot the marshal and go home?

By the way, I really think RDR is better than game of the year. This is easily the best-written game I've ever played, and the technical side serves that writing nearly flawlessly. This game is definitely the one I'll point to in my games-are-art arguments. As someone said above, it's every bit as good as any western movie.

Hell, the fact that we're having this discussion of character vs agency should indicate the depth of this game. You and I are arguing over a nuance of dramatic narrative, an artifact of the story choices in the game, not about whether the shotgun is an unbalanced weapon or what the devs did to reduce camping.
posted by Netzapper at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2010


It's in the avatar store, under lifestyles collections, under "Spring". I plan to get either the RDR lasso or the Penny Arcade Carboard Tube Samurai tube/sword to go with it, when I get some more points. I'm 40 shy of the 240 price, and can't see buying 400 now just for that. Oh well.

Also, I unlocked a hat for my avatar in RDR by (accidentally)shooting someone's hat off when I was going for a headshot. Surprised the heck out of me.
posted by owtytrof at 2:18 PM on June 3, 2010


This is easily the best-written game I've ever played, and the technical side serves that writing nearly flawlessly.

Portal? Half Life 2?

I think Dan Houser succumbs too often to relying on stereotypes, and while he sometimes does introduce them just to subvert them, sometimes he's just stereotyping. The mexican section comes to mind in that regard.
posted by empath at 2:23 PM on June 3, 2010


Portal is definitely well-written and technically flawless. But, ultimately it's a comedy. Its writing is witty and satirical, but does not build nuanced characters. It feels like a screwball comedy from the 30's... yes, excellent, but not as moving as a Hitchcock noir.

HL2 is, in my opnion, held in unwarranted high regard. I never found myself caring about anyone or anything, nor was I ever impressed by any wit. For a linear FPS, it is well above average. But, it does not compare at all favorably with any but Hollywood action movies. It's somewhere in the realm of Rambo or, perhaps, The Matrix.
posted by Netzapper at 2:50 PM on June 3, 2010


I'm with you on HL2 Netzapper. It was a good game but the story and writing were quite average. Perhaps that's just in retrospect, though - I haven't played it for years and years and so much amazing stuff has come out since then that it's maybe tainted my view.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:19 PM on June 3, 2010


In any event you'll have to excuse me as I am now required to pilot this small clumsy boat down endless annoying and repetitive waterways for several hours before I can advance to the next thread.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:33 PM on June 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Errant, you know what would have helped me see the character in the way you did? If I had ever met the wife and kid at that point.

Yeah, I can see where you're coming from there. I agree with you that they're the macguffin for most of the game, and I think I found it easier than you did to enter into that suspension of disbelief. But I think I also did not find myself inhabiting the character of Marston the way that you did, and so where you felt no personal connection to the family and therefore his actions seemed arbitrary and counter to your assumption of his role, I saw Marston at a remove and therefore I accepted as given his motivation to do the dirty things he does.

I agree with you that it's a fantastic game and immediately enters my pantheon of greatest games ever, others being System Shock 2, Planescape: Torment, The Ocarina of Time, and so on. It's certainly a contender for best game of this year and probably earns more superlatives than that, as you say. I don't recall too many other games where, as the credits rolled, I just stared into the distance, processing the totality of the experience. Any game that makes you want to skip the credits so you can start a new game is a great one; certainly, any game that can get me to open up the multiplayer menu just to keep playing it is a rare thing indeed.
posted by Errant at 3:39 PM on June 3, 2010


Totally disagreement over Half-Life 2 and Portal, Netzapper and Turgid Dahlia, sorry. I think the story is told in the margins, and it's extensive and more importantly, discoverable, which is, to me, exactly how stories should be told in games.

Think about Portal's story for a second.

Remember how they told you that the gleaming, sterile, polished walls of the Enrichment Center were really a facade created by a company so desperate to keep up with its rival Black Mesa that it took enormous risks, which culminated in Aperture accidentally unleashing GLaDOS, who went on mindlessly continuing the company's murderous human experiments, some of which literally drove its test subjects mad, to the point where they were scribbling messages in their own blood on the walls?

No, actually you don't remember anyone telling you that.

Because those are all things you infer from your discoveries while playing the game.

Brilliant.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:45 PM on June 3, 2010


Yeah Portal was good too but...very System Shock.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:52 PM on June 3, 2010


I just want to go on the record here saying that I felt pretty unhappy shooting all the critters for the ambient challenges, and was in many ways quite glad when Marston got bowled over and savaged by cougars.

I'm the exact opposite ... I've discovered a love of virtual hunting thanks to this game. The missions are a little ho-hum in my opinion. My least favorite thing about GTA games are that you "play" a character but have no control over his actions in the main storylines. I tend to find some sideline activity (skydiving, cruising the PCH on a motorcycle listening to tunes) and doing that thing instead of playing the whole game. In RDR, I like hunting. Bighorn sheep, wolves, cougars, hunted in the dark, maybe just with a knife ... fun city.

I just joined MeFight Club. Also, I just bought UFC: Undisputed, so hiyah!
posted by Bookhouse at 3:57 PM on June 3, 2010


I have a PS3, and will very likely be buying RDR at some point. If nothing else, Christmas. I'll look for y'all.
posted by cereselle at 4:00 PM on June 3, 2010


I've discovered a love of virtual hunting thanks to this game.

Signs you have played RDR for too long: you see a bird you've never seen before and immediately reach for your nonexistent Winchester Repeater. Unnatural Selection achievement FTW!

(I'm really very bad at vegetarianism.)
posted by Errant at 4:01 PM on June 3, 2010


Totally disagreement over Half-Life 2 and Portal, Netzapper and Turgid Dahlia, sorry. I think the story is told in the margins, and it's extensive and more importantly, discoverable, which is, to me, exactly how stories should be told in games.

Oh, no, Portal is excellent. I'm in no way trying to downplay it in the slightest. It Happened One Night is one of my favorite movies ever. It's just that I can't pretend that it's as moving as, say, Notorious or Vertigo.

Portal was good at building a setting, just as you say. A backstory that you discover and infer. But, as my screenwriting teachers drilled into my head over and over again, a cool setting is insufficient without equally developed characters. GLaDOS is well-written and interesting, but not especially multidimensional.

It's just HL2 I think is... well... overhyped. It's a good game, but the story is dragged along by the gameplay instead of pushing it. A perfect single-player shooter, but perfect in its execution, not in its premise or writing. (And, actually, I think the first HL is better written, despite having less character interaction.)
posted by Netzapper at 4:13 PM on June 3, 2010


It's just HL2 I think is... well... overhyped. It's a good game, but the story is dragged along by the gameplay instead of pushing it. A perfect single-player shooter, but perfect in its execution, not in its premise or writing.

HL2 made me consider that I just don't like FPS games, because all I hear is how it's literally the best game ever made, and yet even though Portal and TF2 are honestly two of my favorite games ever, HL2 bored the shit out of me.

Oh, just got RDR this weekend, and loving the hell out of it.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:44 AM on June 4, 2010


What I think really blew me away by this game -- what cemented my opinion about it, really -- was the lightning. You're galloping away in the night, as the darkened rain falls, and then suddenly, everything is illuminated by brilliant light. It's beautiful, it shows such a deep appreciation for the setting and so complete an attention to detail. Really well done.
posted by meese at 10:52 PM on June 4, 2010


Only problem I have with the game so far is that, pretty regularly, I want so badly for Marston to clear his damn throat already.
posted by meese at 10:56 PM on June 4, 2010


Just to chime in on the rape issue raised earlier... My husband is about 3/4 through playing the game right now, and I've been watching it on and off while he does. I'm pretty sensitive to rape issues, and haven't found RDR to be a problem in that regard. It's integrated into the game, rather than as a plot device slapped on to get around a difficult plot hole. It provides a certain amount of realism to the setting, and as a subject it's treated about as well as can be expected for a video game (i.e. no finesse, but not awful either).

Compared to some of the off-colour stuff in previous Rockstar games, I think it's a definite improvement. Compared to the har-har-har sort of rape jokes in other games, RDR is actually pretty sensitive. Many of the characters have an awful attitude towards women, but I think it's obvious that the makers of the game do not share that attitude.

Apart from that, I'm finding it a very beautiful game to look at. I've always liked the GTA graphics and style, but I think I'd find them garish after seeing RDR.
posted by harriet vane at 2:09 AM on June 5, 2010


Portal was good at building a setting, just as you say. A backstory that you discover and infer. But, as my screenwriting teachers drilled into my head over and over again, a cool setting is insufficient without equally developed characters. GLaDOS is well-written and interesting, but not especially multidimensional.

It's just HL2 I think is... well... overhyped. It's a good game, but the story is dragged along by the gameplay instead of pushing it. A perfect single-player shooter, but perfect in its execution, not in its premise or writing.


Good screenplay writing is not good games writing.

The problem with good, multi-dimensional, character based writing in games you already identified above: My John Marston wouldn't do THAT!

To me, the ideal game doesn't feel written at all. Imagine Red Dead Redemption with no cut scenes and an entirely emergent narrative that isn't scripted at all.

Because as good as RDR is in terms of narrative storytelling, it's still essentially a badly animated CGI film that requires you to get past target-shooting mini-games to watch.

I'm against cut scenes in principle, and usually skip them. RDR was an exception because it was so well written, but I couldn't help thinking at times -- why isn't Dan Houser just writing a tv series? Why is this a game?

Now that I've beaten it, I'll likely never touch it again, but games like TF2, MW2, Borderlands, L4D2 -- games with minimal storytelling and writing, I'll play over and over again, because the stories are created through gameplay, not imposed on you by the author.

I'm not denying that RDR is an amazing achievement in terms of acting and writing, but it's like a game that doesn't trust itself to be a game, and it's flawed as a game in lots of ways. The cover system and shooting from horse back is a mess, and given that it's 90% of the game play, it's pretty inexcusable.

I still highly recommend it and was utterly absorbed by it when I played it, but to me, I prefer my games to be games, not movies.
posted by empath at 2:28 AM on June 5, 2010


empath, we're going to have to agree to disagree here.

All but one of those games you list: TF2, MW2, L4D. They all held my interest for perhaps a week, and then bored me. (Borderlands, though, was excellent. But it was excellent because of all the weirdass characters you encounter. And the art.)

I'm interested in video games for the experience. Once I've done all the things that one can do in a game, the repetition of it quickly becomes tedious. The idea of playing enough Modern Warfare to be competitive? Please. I'd rather go to the sooting range, and play paintball. In fact, I dislike multiplayer games in general... I'm never good enough to show, let alone win. And being the target practice for some 15 year old doesn't hold my interest.

And for abstract gaming? I'd rather play spades or Munchkin. Mind you, I like the occasional 2D side-scroller or whatever. But, the gameplay itself has to be inherently enjoyable. If it's just more run, jump, shoot with a different theme... count me out.

For me, the joy in video games comes from narrative and worldbuilding. I want a world to explore with people in it. I'd like those people to have stories and aspirations. And, unlike a book or a movie, the process isn't passive.

It's also interesting that all the games you list are FPSes. The FPS has to be my least favorite of the games I'm willing to play. My most favorite are Western-style RPGs. I think this may well be a telling distinction in our tastes.

[I'm playing Alpha Protocol right now. I promise you'd hate it, given how friggin' sloppy the whole thing is. Except that the dialog system is excellent, and the characterization is also excellent. So I'm pretty hooked.]
posted by Netzapper at 3:14 AM on June 5, 2010


I also liked Braid, and more gamey games like Geometry Wars, Trials HD and Goo. I just prefer pure gameplay experiences. Probably my favorite game of all time is Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar.

Personally, I'm happiest when the game is simple, challenging, repetitive and mindless. I think mindless is a disparaging term for most people, but a game that can put people into that mind/no-mind state of doing without thinking is a special thing -- high-level Starcraft is like that, SF2, Geometry Wars, trials hd, MW2. It just kind of requires constant over-stimulation and a feedback loop with the player.

So much of RDR was mindless in a bad way. Just pressing A to gallop, left click, right click to aim and shoot. Barely interactive. I mean, sure the scenery was lovely, but where is the game?

Again, for what it is, it's brilliant. It has fantastic writing. I just don't think it's fantastic _game_ writing.
posted by empath at 4:18 AM on June 5, 2010


What I mean is -- take Red Dead Redemptions Dialogue, film it with real actors, put it on TV -- does it still work?

Now, Take Portal's dialogue and do the same. It doesn't work at all. But it works brilliantly in the context of the game.

And honestly, as well written as RDR is, I still felt worse about killing the weighted companion cube than killing any number of people in RDR.
posted by empath at 4:21 AM on June 5, 2010


What I mean is -- take Red Dead Redemptions Dialogue, film it with real actors, put it on TV -- does it still work?

What you're saying is that if a game seems like it could also be a movie, that means it's flawed as a game. Which seems weird to me, but you also think RDR was "barely interactive", so that also seems weird to me.

Honestly, it's clear that you prefer games that have no internal narrative element, so I'm a little surprised to hear you criticize RDR for having a badly-implemented narrative; it doesn't sound like you're inclined to think of games as being able to implement narrative well at all, so that's not a problem with RDR but with the progression of games as you see it.

As for the rest, I'm just going to assume one of us got a different game in the same box, because my experience doesn't appear to have been anything like yours. I had no problem shooting from horseback, the cover system has a couple issues but is pretty far removed from "a mess" and "inexcusable" -- I could go on, but there's no real point. We clearly didn't play the same game.
posted by Errant at 10:00 AM on June 5, 2010


I'm certainly in for any MeFi-based posse in RDR - especially anything based around Australasian time-zone. I'm on Live as thx1377, and have just added a bunch of y'all who've ided your Live tags in-thread.

In fact, I think I'm off to go shoot some varmints right now...

Slightly annoyed that the Xbox friends management portal on the web doesn't appear to allow you to add a message with a friends request, too.
posted by MarchHare at 3:32 AM on June 8, 2010


Honestly, it's clear that you prefer games that have no internal narrative element, so I'm a little surprised to hear you criticize RDR for having a badly-implemented narrative; it doesn't sound like you're inclined to think of games as being able to implement narrative well at all,

I think it's not what games do best, and the more emphasis that's placed on it, the less it becomes a good example of a game and the more it becomes a bad example of a film.

Compare narrative in a game like The Sims and Civilization or Dwarf fortress. Every game and story is different and unique to you.

Every game of rdr that everyone plays is essentially the same. Nothing you do has the slightest impact on the outcome.

Again, I'm not saying it's bad for what it is, just explaining why I think it's essentially non interactive and why the writing isn't a particularly good example of games writing, while it is a good example of dramatic writing.

I guess my test is-- are you playing this because you want to see what happens next or because the game play itself is rewarding.

I'm probably not being entirely coherent here, but I really feel like the quality of the cutscenes should be completely irrelevant to the quality of the game, and I prefer not having them at all.
posted by empath at 5:53 AM on June 8, 2010


I guess my test is-- are you playing this because you want to see what happens next or because the game play itself is rewarding.

This is a false dichotomy. Even in the case of something like Civilization, what happens next is important or compelling because it is about seeing how your strategy pans out in the face of whatever the AI will come up with. The outcome isn't determined in the same way RDR is, but it's still sort of about seeing what happens next.

In a similar vein:
Every game of rdr that everyone plays is essentially the same. Nothing you do has the slightest impact on the outcome.

The overarching narrative of RDR plays out the same, sure, but on a combat encounter basis, what weapon you choose to use, where you decide to take cover, when you decide to push forward can determine whether you die or not. This isn't really that different on an abstract level from, for example, picking what to build or where to send your units in Civilization.
posted by juv3nal at 12:42 PM on June 8, 2010


Every game of rdr that everyone plays is essentially the same. Nothing you do has the slightest impact on the outcome.

Spoilers for the end abound -- stop reading this comment now if you're not interested.

Seriously, tons of spoilers. Look away.

Still here?

Ok then.

I definitely take your point that the plot of the game doesn't change, but I disagree that what you do doesn't impact the outcome, because what you do and how you've played the game adds color and tone to those events. If you play as the paladin of the West, the relief of being reunited with your family is incredible, and the Bureau's betrayal comes as a sucker-punch, however foreseeable and inevitable it is. Then Jack's actions feel like a bloody avenging of a grievous wrong.

Conversely, if you play as a murdering bandit, in all of the scenes with Uncle the implicit violence in Marston feels like it's just waiting to boil over, like he's a man barely restrained from killing everyone he sees. In this version, the Bureau acts to destroy a monster and in the process seemingly creates a new monster in Jack, generating a new cycle of violence and transferring the sins of the father.

The same actions occur, but they aren't the same events when viewed through the lens of whatever Marston you have inhabited, and they're arguably not even really the same story. I have no intention of discussing Ebert's views on video games, but I'm often reminded of his adage that a movie isn't what it's about but how it is about it. One of the reasons that I accept this game as a game is that it's only through this medium that I can meticulously construct my own "how" through which to interpret the narrative.

I definitely take your point that there aren't likely to be too many more stories than these two, but I also don't think that emergent gameplay is the only true mode of the medium, enjoyable though it certainly is. I don't find an emphasis on narrative to operate in opposition to play experience the way that you do, at least not axiomatically. (There are certainly games where we'd both agree the story is much more interesting than the game.) But I don't accept your dichotomy of what happens next vs. rewarding gameplay; I believe they are or can be complementary forces.
posted by Errant at 12:43 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


« Older Just a quickie reminder that o...  |  Adelaide meetup and wtf-a-podc... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments