Saturday, February 12, 2011

Red Dead Resurrection

Since we're finishing up the Ultimate Western novel in class, I figured it would be a good time to talk about everybody's favorite Western video game.

Here is the launch trailer for Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare that came out in October as an add-on to the tremendously popular game, Red Dead Redemption.  The trailer is entertaining and the graphics are stunning.  There's a great rhyme about the properties of the Four Horses of the Apocalypse that goes 

"War leaves a trail of burning hell fire,
Famine and Pestilence are eternal, and will never tire. 
The Death horse is lurking as well,
Causing cranial combustion as you ride through hell" 

I'm not a gamer, but I'm willing to convert for Red Dead.  This Western fantasy game received widespread critical acclaim as one of the best games of the past year.  It's set in America in the early 1900s, when the cowboy era is coming to an end.  The Rockstar Games website calls it "an epic battle for survival in a beautiful open world as John Marston struggles to bury his blood-stained past, one man at a time."  

There's bounty hunting, train robberies, and shootouts galore as John Marston travels across the frontier.  All this makes for a lot of brutal violence, but somehow it is vivid and shocking without being offensive.  In this open world, the morals are left up to the player.  John Marston can be a hero who saves every damsel in distress he encounters, or he can lean towards more evil pursuits.  This relates loosely to what we discussed in class about the Kid and how he is a relatively moral person, and how there is a moral code among the bounty hunters despite their  brutality.  

However, the true appeal of Red Dead lies in the gorgeous rendering of the Western landscape and the ability to just saddle up a horse and gallop across the prairie.  Even just roaming the countryside is a lot of fun, because of the sheer attention to detail in the design.  Red Dead really indulges the fantasy of riding off into the sunset .  I haven't played Undead Nightmare yet, but I'm really looking forward to the killer zombie hordes and fantastical animals that infest the West.


  1. I've personally played Red Dead Redemption and it's amazing. It's pretty much Grand Theft Auto in a Western setting, but the storyline, environment, and everything else is so much more legit.

    Actually, in some ways, I imagine that Red Dead Redemption is almost like the world of Blood Meridian. So brutal and cold, idealized Western appeal, and gorgeous and stunning graphics (that would do justice to Cormac McCarthy's amazing vocabulary, how does that man do it?). I really like how you relate the plot of Red Dead to the plot of Blood Meridian. Maybe instead of making a movie, James Franco should help make it a game.

  2. I totally agree with Kevin, Red Dead was awesome. The actual gameplay was not ground breaking or even that fun to be honest, but I didn't mind tapping "a" over and over again riding through the wilderness, as the environment completely dragged me in.

    You're right about the lawlessness but morality that rules the worlds of Red Dead and Blood Meridian. If a drunk is staggering around the streets talking shit to Marston, you have every right to challenge him to a duel and blow his sorry brains out. Dropping people on the streets is obviously shunned by the law, but this is the west, the man should have kept his mouth shut. Afterwards, you walk away from the body and the game goes on.

  3. In many ways it seems like John Marston is the typical Western ex-killer with morals. The Kid in Blood Meridian could serve perfectly as a young John Marston from what I've played of Red Dead Redemption. I haven't finished the game yet because of school so I hope I don't look like an idiot saying this. However, the Kid could quite likely grow up to be the man that John Marston is. Trying to put his past behind him and trying to make an honest living by starting anew. Blood Meridian and Red Dead Redemption are two sources of the Western myth of the anti-hero who is constantly dragged back into the world of the Wild West that he is so desperately trying to leave.


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