In the world of video games, the Western is a relatively untapped genre; bustling to the brim with potential. Where TV and Cinema have brought us the likes of Deadwood, The Unforgiven, Rio Bravo and The Good the Bad and The Ugly, so far all video games have managed to offer are a handful of titles such as GUN, the Call of Juarez series, and the subject of this article: Red Dead Revolver.
Red Dead Revolver was released on the Playstation 2 and the original Xbox in early 2004 to some mixed reviews and fairly decent sales. This week sees the high profile release of the sequel, Red Dead Redemption, which so far has received mostly stellar reviews. So what better time to shamelessly cash in and take a trip back in time to look at how it began?
Created by Rockstar San Diego, the studio behind the Midnight Club racing games, and published by Rockstar Games, the powerhouses behind the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Revolver was a interesting third person shooter simply because it exuded style from every pore.
The game featured a fantastic sound track by Western Legend Ennio Morricone, composer of The Good the Bad and the Ugly, which really contributes towards the authentic western feel.
Like any good Western, Red Dead Revolver put you in the role of a man out for vengeance; Red, the bounty hunting son of gold prospectors. As a child, his parents were murdered by a greedy Mexican general, out to steal their substantial amount of gold.
How did this General learn of his family’s recent find? A trusted friend betrayed them in exchange for saving his own worthless hide. Once Red grows up and becomes a bona fide Bounty Hunter, he sets out to take revenge on both the heartless general and the gutless traitor.
As well as the main protagonist there were several other playable characters at various points in the game. However, they all handle exactly the same as Red, and only really served as a way of emphasising what a bland character Red was.
Characters like the English sharp shooter Jack Swift, for instance, were far more charismatic. At times these side levels served as little more than distractions from the main quest. Each character was playable in the multiplayer mode, which offered up various death match games; although overall it felt a little tacked on.
The real meat of this game came in the single player story mode. The world of Red Dead Revolver was far smaller than you might expect, what with it coming from the people behind Grand Theft Auto. If any comparison can be made to another existing Rockstar game, it would probably have to be Manhunt. Each level is broken up into small arenas populated with a number of enemies. In order to progress you must defeat every enemy, and defeat the more powerful boss character at the end of the level.
There were a lot of tools at your disposal, ranging from the generic pistols, revolvers, to riffles, and dynamite. The best feature in Red Dead Revolver came in the form of the deadeye mechanic. Basically, deadeye is the equivalent of the slow motion bullet time found in games such as Max Payne and Stranglehold.
When deadeye was activated you could aim at up to six targets, be they six individual targets or just separate body parts, and fill them full of hot lead. Deadeye was also implemented in quick draws at regular intervals in the game. These quick draw moments proved to be some of the most memorable, and genuinely satisfying, moments in the game.
Like a lot of Rockstar games, at times the controls could be a bit fiddly, particularly the movement controls. Your character could duck behind cover, roll out of the way of fire, and perform hand to hand combat, but overall you really fighting up close with your enemies was a bad idea. The game was at its best when standing at one end of a deserted ghost town, firing off shot after shot at enemies standing at the other end of the street.
As well as gun fights, you would be right in expecting other Western staples, such as train robberies, saloon fights, and horse riding. For the most part the big set pieces, such as the attack on the train, were exhilarating, although a little clunkily put together.
That is probably the best thing you could say about Red Dead Revolver; it was a neat game with a ton of good ideas. The only problem being that the execution was a little off. It’s probably safe to say that Rockstar are aware of the game’s faults, as the sequel Red Dead Redemption shares little in common with the original. In fact the only links between Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption are the inclusion of the Deadeye mechanic and fact that it has a protagonist that rides a horse.
Red Dead Revolver is available for both the Playstation 2 and the Original Xbox and should be available at a fairly low price online. It is one of the original Xbox titles that will work on your Xbox 360, and if you are lucky enough to own an old 60GB model of PS3 then you should be able to play it on that too.
Stay tuned to The Newb Review for the ultimate Red Dead Redemption review.