Monday, June 7, 2010

That little bit at the end

Most funny videos of people falling down or crashing into things end about thirty seconds too soon. Yes, it is quite funny to see some hipster careening down a rail on a heavily stickered skateboard, but I want that extra snippet of time documenting the extent of his injuries and pain. This is not because I like watching people get hurt (much) but more that I think it is even funnier in context. Games are just as guilty of skipping past the epilogues, relegating them to cut scenes that run behind the credits. Even if they take a half an hour to get through them (I am looking at you FFIV) they are just not very effective. Red Dead Revolver has found one more way to distance itself from the pack by letting me play the happy ending. After I killed, or more accurately drove to suicide, the last bad guy I expected some credits and a quick turnaround into the open world. Instead, I got a new mission: ‘Go home and find your family,’ accompanied by appropriately cheesy music.

So I went home, found my wife, son and drunken uncle, and received more missions. There were things to do around the farm, herding cattle, roping wild horses and killing crows by the dozens, and they all made use of skills that I had learned over the past hours of mercenary killing. John’s relationship with his son is explored, and like any good sixteen year old he does the exact opposite of what his father says and nearly gets eaten by a bear. The message I got, and I do not know if this is what Rockstar intended, was that John’s life of crime and his subsequent retreat from it had prepared him for living with and taking care of his family. It is the kind of happy but realistic ending that one does not usually find in a game.

Being an impatience bastard, I peeked ahead a bit to find out how much more there is left and spoiled the ending for myself. Things do not stay happy forever, and as much as John tries to escape his past it never really will let him go. Justice will be served, regardless of the heart break caused. I look forward to the ending, and will be sad when it comes, as Mr. John Marston was a well written, sympathetic, bad ass character who would kill you as soon as help you, but wasn’t really proud of how ruthless he could be. This is the best open world-ish game I have yet played, mostly because the main character is more than a conduit for the player’s violent urges. It may not have all the freedom, but it has more depth of story and character and will stick with me longer than any explosive fueled mayhem in a stolen car.

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