I got my first look at "Red Dead Redemption" back in June and I came away with a distinct feeling of "Grand Theft Horse." Now, with an updated look at the game, the same appears true. That isn't meant to be derogatory, it's just accurate. If you take the gameplay mechanics of "Grand Theft Auto" and moved them into the Wild West, the end result would be "Red Dead Redemption." Let's take a look at the similarities, shall we?
Big Open World
Huge, in fact. "Red Dead Redemption" has a map that's larger than the one in "San Andreas" which, if you'll recall, often required a jet airplane to traverse. Since this game takes place around 1910 it's not likely we'll be seeing too many of those sitting around, but you will always have a trusty horse (or mule) at your side.
Like "San Andreas," the world in "Red Dead" is split up across 3 territories:
New Austin – Modeled after Texas. Think plains, dust and armed individuals.
Nuevo Parasio – Across the border in Mexico. More dust, more canyons, bigger hats.
West Elizabeth – Think Denver. Pine trees, some elevation, maybe even some snow.
You'll utilize your horse for small jaunts, but for bigger trips the train is always handy. And, this being 1910 (two years after the first Model T was built), you may even have some personal motorized transport in some of the more "modern" cities.
Things To Keep You Occupied
Although the map may be bigger than the one in "San Andreas," there's clearly a lot more open space. But, like "GTA," there are always small, random moments to keep you occupied. Here are a few examples:
Bandits will mess with you while you're riding on the dusty trail. You can try to make a break for it or, for a bit more fun, you can take them out, which will earn you some cash and respect.
Treasure maps are scattered throughout the world. Unlike most video game treasure maps, the ones in "Red Dead Redemption" are more vague and, uh, more realistic. I hesitate because I've never actually seen one, but the ones in this game use landmarks and hand-drawn directions to lead you to your mark, instead of just dropping a waypoint on your map.
You can find bounty posters on the walls of towns. These will direct you to nearby encampments of nogoodniks, and taking them out alive or dead will net you a reward (more for the former).
See, something you couldn't do in "GTA!" In "Red Dead" you can pick flowers and sell them to herbalists to get healing medicine. The flowers weren't specified, but I'm sure they are very self-actualizing.
Wildlife is rampant in this game. Within the first 5 seconds of the demo, an armadillo ran across our path. You can skin animals and sell their pelts (or whatever it is armadillos have). That doesn't mean they're all just sitting, waiting for their skin to be ripped off. Wolves, bears and other beasties will come after you in certain circumstances.
What could be more "GTA" than getting a Wanted Level by messing with the law? In "Red Dead" there aren't stars to show you how "wanted" you are. Instead, your bounty will increase as cause more trouble. You can escape the search ring (just like the one in "GTA IV"), but that will only cause your current followers to lose you. You'll keep your wanted level until you find a pardon (from certain quests) or pay it off. Until you do you'll be harassed by bounty hunters. See, what goes around comes around.
I haven't actually gone hands-on with "Red Dead Redemption" just yet, but the high presentation values that pervade throughout "GTA" seem to be making an appearance here, as well. The world they've created is the sort of world I'd want to spend 40 to 60 hours hanging around in. It's gorgeous, expansive, and full of armadillos. My kinda place.