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Red Dead Redemption is "unpleasant"

Not Little House on the Prairie, says R*.

Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser has said "blood and gore and gruesomeness" are key to Red Dead Redemption and its portrayal of the Wild West.

"We didn't want it to feel like those old Saturday afternoon TV shows, matinee movie Westerns where people kind of get shot and crumble and die very quickly, very carefully off-camera," Houser told IGN. "We didn't want it to feel like Little House on the Prairie.

"I think there was a certain amount of blood and gore and gruesomeness [that] was vital for the game to have the weight that we wanted it to have. It's not generally something where we didn't think it was being gratuitous at all. We thought it was vital for it to properly depict these kind of characters and this kind of world, the violence had to feel slightly raw and unpleasant.

"You don't feel these are just people being shot and dying with dignity," he added. "They're not. They're being shot and they're dying scared and miserable like everyone else would die. And I think that's what we wanted to try and capture."

It's not just the violence of the late 1800s in the southern United States and northern Mexico that Houser wants to capture, but also the racial discrimination, although this will be handled tactfully

"We didn't fully represent era-appropriate racial attitudes because it's too unpleasant to deal with, but we touch on those issues," he said.

"Not tensions, just attitudes. Tensions we did want to include. Within our research, the language - not that we shy away from too much, and we didn't really shy away from it - people use to describe other races is insanely offensive to modern ears, and we hint at that but we maybe don't do it with quite the vibrancy that people use in some of our research.

"I mean some of the stuff you find is unbelievably simplistic and offensive," he added, "and we can hint at that and hint at these people's attitudes but we're not going to have them screaming these words at each other or displaying such complete ignorance. We have some characters like that but we tend to make them look somewhat ridiculous."

Similarly, there will be a "little bit of swearing" but also in a "period-appropriate way".

Red Dead Redemption, announced in February, follows the life of John Marston, a reformed bank robber and outlaw who tried to turn his life around but is coming to see that that is impossible, a bit like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.

Action will take place across three zones, and stories and missions will be handed out much like in GTA, although there will be less of them. "Our main goal with a game like this, or with any game, is giving the player freedom over what they do next," said Houser.

Some missions will feature "long rides" that Houser is trying to make as fun as possible, but which can be skipped via a mission checkpoint system if things go wrong and need redoing.

And like GTA, there will also be miscellaneous tasks to occupy explorers of the world, such as hunting around 40 types of animals to earn money and eventually an outfit.

"You get various rewards to your appearance once you reach the various tiers of achieving the various sets of things you can do one of which is hunting," said Houser, varying his choice of words.

Rockstar will be implementing a Wanted-like system in Red Dead Redemption where NPC characters will call out posses to hunt you down if you stand around discharging your six-shooter in public. Your fame goes up in tandem with your wanted level, apparently, and the world reacts to this.

Mini-games and side activities will be a central part of Red Dead Redemption, and include activities such as Five Finger Filet, drinking, card playing, fighting and running in a posse. Duels are in, too, but girlfriends and friends are out.

Character interaction and dialogue will be as important as ever, however.

"We love doing dialogue at Rockstar. We tend to put many, many multiples of tens of thousands of lines of dialogue into these games, and this one will be no exception," said Houser, who is aiming for a similar level or production value to GTA IV.

"A vast amount of pleasure in any game is just sitting and watching the world go by, and that's something that we've really tried to push in this world. In parts of the map where appropriate you'll see soldiers grab hold of people, just line them up along a wall and shoot them. So there'll be hopefully tons of that kind of stuff and you can sit and passively observe the world without you having to cause all the trouble."

Houser revealed that Red Dead Redemption will have "an interesting twist with the [endgame] compared to what we've done in the past" that will keep us playing after the story is finished and the 100 per cent completion status earned.

There's also going to be multiplayer, where players will be "charging around on horses and stagecoaches and trains". "It's pretty epic, but it's not finalised to talk about in any more detail than that," concluded Houser.

Red Dead Redemption will be out this autumn on PS3 and Xbox 360.

Our Red Dead Redemption gamepage has the first screenshots and trailer.