Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Redemption by spoiler

I am now going to spoil the shit out of Red Dead Redemption’s ending. If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now. But you know you do.

I knew that John Marsten was going to die even before accidentally spoiling it for myself while checking something out on gamefaqs. There was a theme of a person’s past never really letting them go that went through the whole game, and John was sympathetic enough (at least the way I played him) for his death to still mean something even though he was nothing more than a semi-reformed outlaw. When the government rode over the hill and John started killing them by the dozens, buying time for his wife and son to ride off into the sunset it was tense but not surprising. This is the kind of tragic hero ending I was expecting (the kinds Kratos should have had). In his last moments, after his family had escaped, John opens the doors of a barn he had been hiding in, boldly strolls out into the sites of around twenty agents, and draws his gun. Frantically I searched for the two government workers who had kidnapped my family, but they weren’t there, so I took off six heads with six bullets before I was done. Their task completed, the agents and soldiers leave, and Jack and his mother return to bury John.

Fade to black.

But wait, there is still revenge to be had. Three years later John’s wife passes away. His now nineteen year old son dons his father’s hat, takes up his guns, and heads out. Once you take control of Jack there is no clear goal, but he looked pissed off enough that I decided it was time to leave the reformed part out of reformed outlaw and ride into Blackwater, guns blazing. On the way there I shot two federal marshals who were chasing a suspect just because they were in the way. This outburst of violence was refreshing after having stifled all those urges with John. I did not know exactly what my plans for Blackwater were, but it was not going to end well for anyone. Just as I was about to begin my unfortunate target practice a new quest marker appeared. It was another agent, and Jack asked him about Ross, the man who had betrayed and killed his father.

One last mission. I was thrilled. I followed the trail to his wife’s house, shooting some bum who challenged me to a duel in the head along the way. She directed me to a river in Mexico where he and his brother were hunting. It was a long ride, but along the way I just became more and more angry; angry and intent on finishing my task. Ross’s brother told me he was further downstream, so I got off my horse and skulked through the reeds until I found him, back to me, shooting at ducks he had flushed out from the opposite shore. Ross turned around, recognized me, and was not afraid. I wanted to shoot him there, in cold blood, first in the knees and then work my way up. Instead I was forced into a duel, but the end result was the same: Ross was dead and my last task was done.

Changing characters right as the game moved from mission based to truly free form was brilliant. I wanted to travel the countryside as Jack, rediscover things that his father had done, and build a new reputation for myself. I returned home and wandered through the house, looking for memories that Jack surely had but were not shared with me. Finding nothing, I went outside and looked for Jack’s parents’ graves. I could not locate them, but the realization that this was all Jack’s now slowly took over. It was his adventure, and he had the whole world to play in.

It was all I could do to turn in off and send the games on its way. Congratulations Rockstar, Red Dead Revolver is more than a brilliant game, it is an excellent Western.

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