Friday, June 4, 2010

In memory of William Wallace

I was standing on the outskirts of the Mexican desert last night marvelling about how wide open the world was when then urge to break a quest struck me. Sure, I can wander around the vast, dry and deadly wilderness, but can I kill a quest giver out of spite (or just for shits)? I was tasked with routing rebels and burning their village to the ground, something that neither I nor Mr. Marston seemed too happy about, when I decided enough was enough and that I was going to kill all the soldiers that I had done the raiding with. Only I couldn't. At any other time I can shoot just about anyone, but because I was in a quest with a specific objective I could not kill the people I came with. The open world ends when the story begins. This is not specific to Red Dead Revolver, it is in fact inherited directly from its Grand Theft Auto forebearers. Rockstar does open world mayhem very well. They do not unfortunately offer actual freedom to the player in the same way that other free form RPG's have, and in my mind that is a significant chink in its western style armor.

I don't mean to be greedy (actually, yes I do) but what is then sense if giving me a giant playground to romp around in, but then locking things down when I try to climb on the monkey bars? It is much easier for the developers, that is for sure, as it prevents them from having to think of alternative outcomes for a given situation. Every scripted event in Red Dead will always end one of two ways: either the way they wanted it to or with a game over screen. That is not choice, that is the exact opposite of choice. Really, it's cake or death, and that cake is pretty good in spite of having no choice about it.

So I am bitching about not having enough freedom in one of the better games I have played this year? Why yes, yes I am, but only because it is so close to perfect that these little things stick way, way out. What I really want is Deus Ex: The Western, and no one will ever make it, because JC Denton in a cowboy hat would be to much cool in one place at one time and the world would end right then and there.

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