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Red Dead Redemption 2 Review Roundup: Yes, It's Really That Good

Based on early reviews, Red Dead Redemption 2 might just be one of the best video games of the year.

According to the reviewers, Rockstar's latest open-world epic offers gorgeous graphics and a storyline that will keep you enthralled for hours. Its world is big, compelling, and interesting, and the dozens of character storylines mean you won’t find yourself bored for long — if at all.

Red Dead Redemption 2 does appear to have its flaws, including some frustrating game mechanics and pacing issues. But on the whole, Red Dead Redemption 2 is looking to be 2018's game to beat.

Read on to find out what the reviewers are saying.

IGN

IGN reviewer Luke Reilly was clear in his review: Red Dead Redemption 2 might just be one of the finest gaming achievements of the modern era and could prove to be a game all others are compared against.

"Red Dead Redemption 2 stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Grand Theft Auto V as one of the greatest games of the modern age."

Pros

“The slick cinematics make a hell of first impression, embedding you in the gang and bringing you right up close to the characters who are doing their best to bellow over the howling wind.”

“Red Dead Redemption 2 does an exceptional job at slowly rationing out reasons to visit every corner of its huge world, too. I was still led to areas of the map I hadn’t yet visited even in the closing stages of its 60-hour main storyline.”

“The main story missions themselves are a cocktail of high-stakes heists, deadly shootouts, desperate rescues, and thrilling chases, mixed with a lengthy list of other activities.”

Cons

“About my only major logistical gripe is that the weapons I was previously carrying are regularly swapped out for others. Oftentimes it’s clearly mission-related to ensure you go into a task with a scoped rifle or bow when required, which is fine. More irksome are the times I end up with mismatching pistols for dual wielding, with the game trading out my preference.”

Score: 10/10

GameSpot

Over at GameSpot, reviewer Kallie Plagge found few problems in the game. She was impressed by its story and missions, but there were times she fell out of the immersive experience.

“Red Dead Redemption 2 is an excellent prequel, but it's also an emotional, thought-provoking story in its own right, and it's a world that is hard to leave when it's done.”

Pros

“There's next to no fast travel at the beginning and few methods in general, so you have to rely on your horse to get around. It can be slow, but there's no shortage of things to do and see along the way.”

“Like any good prequel, there's an incredible amount of tension in knowing what happens without knowing exactly how.”

“The new characters are among the best, too; Sadie Adler is a personal favorite for reasons I won't spoil.”

Cons

“Some frustrating systems and a predictable mission structure end up serving that story well, though it does take patience to get through them and understand why.”

“[A]fter a while, a pattern emerges, and it's easy to figure out how any given heist or raid is going to unfold.”

Score: 9/10

Game Informer

Game Informer reviewer Matt Bertz had an extremely difficult time finding problems inside Red Dead Redemption 2. From graphics to replayability, the game was outstanding, he thought.

“From the Albert Bierstadt-inspired Western vistas to the bustling streets of a New Orleans facsimile, this is one of the most beautiful games ever created.”

Pros

“The horse-riding and gunplay are both improved from Red Dead Redemption. It may sound annoying, but the several new mechanics that require you to care for Arthur Morgan, his horse, and his weaponry impart a sense of realism that grounds the experience.”

“The up-close portrayal of the outlaw Van der Linde gang’s unraveling is a compelling companion story that blends seamlessly with the original game, and depth and breadth of the open world is a technical triumph that every gamer should experience.”

“When you head into town, Rockstar’s meticulous craftsmanship gets even more impressive. Each of the many towns and cities has its own character and personality, with the bustling New Orleans facsimile Saint Denis being the crown jewel.”

Cons

“Violence is the only currency that applies across all the regions Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang traverse, so Red Dead Redemption II rarely leaves the comfort of wanton bloodshed, perhaps to a fault. That’s not to say the combat isn’t fun (it is), but it feels refreshing whenever Rockstar lets a mission play out without resorting to violent encounters, and I wish there were more quiet moments sprinkled throughout the story.”

Score: 10/10

Polygon

Polygon’s Chris Plante took Red Dead Redemption 2 for a spin. And although he thought there were moments that were “weird,” Plante also found it to be an extremely “ambitious” new game.

“Red Dead Redemption 2 is one of the weirdest, most ambitious and confounding big-budget games of this decade.”

Pros

“Rockstar has the hubris to create not just another open world paired with a laundry list of activities, but also a simulation that binds it together. When it works, it’s astonishing, affecting and unintentionally funny in the way real life can be.”

Cons

“Red Dead Redemption 2 takes its sweet country time getting to the heists. Before you rob a bank, you must learn to care for your health, gang, horse, camp and grooming. None of this is particularly tedious, some of it is quite fun, but most of it plays out like eating vegetables before the red meat is served.”

“While the game’s creators invite players to think of engagement beyond their weapon, it’s frustrating how few opportunities I have had to show empathy or compassion.”

“The story is too sentimental, and the game too loyal to the video game story trajectory, in which missions become bigger and more explosive, rather than more critical and introspective.”

Score: None provided

Kotaku

Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton found Red Dead Redemption 2 to be a big, beautiful game with plenty of outstanding gameplay. But when it was all said and done, he couldn’t help but feel it was a “glorious downer.”

“It is the rare blockbuster video game that seeks to move players not through empowering gameplay and jubilant heroics, but by relentlessly forcing them to confront decay and despair.”

Pros

“It is both an exhilarating glimpse into the future of entertainment and a stubborn torch bearer for an old-fashioned kind of video game design. It is a remarkable work of game development and, possibly, a turning point in how we remark upon the work of game development.”

“At first Arthur struck me as deliberately unremarkable, another grumbling white-guy tabula rasa onto which I was meant to project my own identity. By the story’s end, I had come to see him as a character in his own right, and a fine one at that.”

“Every interaction in the game, from gunfights to a bar brawls to horse races, feels fundamentally unknowable. The slightest mistake or change in course can lead to wildly variable outcomes. That unknowability gives every undertaking an air of mystery that, combined with the incredible level of detail in every square inch of the world, stoked my imagination to begin filling in the gaps.”

Cons

“The world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is expansive and engrossing, even while—and often because—the process of interacting with it can be frustrating and inconsistent.”

“I only rarely found Red Dead 2 to be “fun” in the way I find many other video games to be fun. The physical act of playing is rarely pleasurable on its own.”

Score: None provided

Credit: Rockstar