GTA wild west. It was amazing how much they borrowed from GTA in the making of this game. You could almost simply consider it a re-skinning of the last game. The missions are delivered in exactly the same way. Follow your mini-map to the nearest capital letter, watch cut scene, begin trek to mission start point, shoot some people or race some people. If you're lucky, shoot and race some people. Auto-save and move on.
I am not the biggest fan of these sort of games generally. I find them overly long most of the time and this was no exception. In the bloated middle section of the game it became very frustrating having to do yet another task for each quest giver. John Marston actually made a few knowing quips about this from time to time.
Thankfully, the story was quite well handled, as far as videogames go and benefitted from a superb lead up to the finale and an exciting conclusion. The end game was also very well executed. John Marston was a fun character to play as and he was extremely well voiced. A quick search on IMDB revealed his voice actor to look nothing like I expected.
Rockstar have crafted a very well realised and interesting world to explore. There was a tremendous variety to the environment with a superb flora and fauna to hunt down. The day/night cycle was really well realised leading to some jaw droppingly gorgeous vistas at times. Occasionally though it could cause irritation if you needed night or day in particular as there was no easy way of skipping time forward(without finding a save point) like you could in say, Oblivion. On a similar note the fast travel was welcome - and essential for a game of this type, but was rather clumsily implemented. I wasn't quite sure why you weren't allowed to set up camp near a road or water either?
The difficulty level was well judged and the combat was quite satisfying - albeit identical to GTA4,with the exception of the 'dead-eye' mechanic which made it quite easy but was rarely necessary. The mid mission checkpoints were also welcome although there were occasional lapses requiring fairly long trips to mission start-points after failures.
Once again Rockstar provided a series of mini-games to add to the sense of place. Some of these were quite diverting. I particularly liked the horse-shoe game, though I wasn't very good at it. A special mention should go also to the soundtrack which was suitably atmospheric.
There were times when I wasn't enjoying this game, particularly during the overly long mexico section - and waiting 2 hours in the chilly northern wilderness for enough 'effin beavers to appear! Stick with it though and you will be happy that you did as the last third is really very good.