Red Dead Revolver Reader Review
Saved from a public hanging at the hands of Capcom, Rockstars rootin’ tootin’ Red Dead Revolver finally gets to see the light of day. Set in the Wild West and featuring bull riding, steam trains, horses and cowboys, (as well as midgets dressed as clowns!), this third-person shooter hopes to inject a little variety into the genre.
Red, the lead character, is your stereotypically quiet, Clint Eastwood-esque, cowboy bad-ass that is avenging the death of his family, an event that happens in front of his very young eyes as a tutorial level at the beginning of the game. From here you take Red, along with five other playable characters, through twenty seven missions of gritty western action.
No not that kind of Red Eye!
Whilst all six characters play almost identically, each have their own character and couldn’t be more stereotypical if they tried, both in visual and audio terms, which suits the games style down to the ground. Some of the best levels in fact are the ones where you control one of the other characters, rather than the lead character Red. Country girl Annie Stokes and the English gentleman Jack Swift, are certainly deserving of more on-screen time.
Each character has their own special Red Eye mode which is basically a dressed up bullet time move. When activated the effect ranges from slowing the action down and allowing the player to target up to six enemies, to firing a flair to instruct your canons to fire at a designated target.
Most of the twenty seven missions involve you running around a town gunning down the opposition but some deviate slightly from this mechanic by introducing stealth (allow yourself a groan) and also (criminally) some on-rails moments. Unfortunately your enemies have a tendency to appear out of thin air and some re-spawn right in front of your very eyes. The levels are also extremely linear and constantly shoehorn you down a path with little to no deviation allowed and the enemy AI is so woeful they’d have trouble shooting their own load, let alone a moving target!
Graphically it’s very gritty and the presentation is spot on, with 1960’s western movie effects used when cut-scenes are displayed and stylish loading screens. The voiceover work also suits the game well with suitably yee-haw enemies and well acted lead characters that suit the style of game perfectly. The characters vignettes are short and they don’t have such a commanding presence as you would expect from a Rockstar game but you can’t really fault the voiceover work. Backing the voice acting up are some crystal clear sound effects and some (slightly) funny quips from the enemies, my favourite being “Congratulations, you finished second” when I lost a certain duel late in the game.
Ah, the duels! What should have been the selling point of Red Dead Revolver’s package actually turned out to be the most disappointing feature of the game. Viewing the action from behind Red, you wait for the cut-scene to end and then at the right moment, quickly push down and up on the right thumbstick to unleash your gun from it’s holster and quickly move the targeting reticule across the enemy. The reticule flashes between three versions, each offering different amounts of damage. You then decide to either unload six bullets into your enemy or go for the perfect head shot and cut short the duel by clicking down the right analogue stick. It doesn’t sound too bad in theory but in practice it’s terribly random and frustrates more than entertains.
Bounty – The taste of...mediocrity
Whilst twenty seven missions sounds like quite a big challenge, most of these are over in less than ten minutes and most can be completed on your first attempt. What this adds up to is a game that for some will last under six hours and offers very little replayability. On completion you do unlock a Bounty Hunter mode, which offers the same levels again but with an added twist, varying from only being allowed to use headshots to not taking any damage but it is a cheap way of extending the lifespan and I doubt many will take Rockstar up on the offer.
Multiplayer modes are also available and you unlock extra areas through completing missions in the main game mode but to be honest, the multiplayer offering is so awful there really is little point. It feels bolted on and tries too much to be a third-person Time Splitters type affair and falls well short of reaching that accolade. Even the duels in multiplayer still feel completely random.
It’s all been very negative so far and that does feel a little unfair as Red Dead Revolver was certainly fun whilst it lasted. However its repetitive nature and oh-so-short main game do not warrant a full price release. In fact it’s fair to say that a lot of the games charm and playability comes from its setting and reliving your childhood fantasy of being a Cowboy, rather than from anything that the game does well.
Red Dead Revolver feels like a game that has been in development for many years and one that has gone through numerous changes and even a change in developer in that time, which is exactly what it is. It’s certainly fun enough to warrant a rental and is short enough for those with a young family or limited playing time to actually complete for a change, but it just doesn’t “warrant” a full price release.
6 / 10