(VIRTUAL) OUTLAWS FOR LIFE

“I can be a Moonshiner now..!”

It’s not a sentence I’m used to hearing from my daughter.

And never in a million years did I expect to be writing about a video game in Western Horse Review.

Yet, here we are.

If you’re in my demographic, you were first introduced to the world of video games on an original Nintendo – the gray box system that came with Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. Whenever the chores were done, us kids leaped at the opportunity for a few minutes to play. Watching the pixelated, Italian characters (twin brothers Mario and Luigi,) dodge fireballs and break bricks with their heads for coins became a fond childhood pastime.

I’m here to tell you that video games have come a long ways since…

With a mature rating, I wasn’t sure what to think initially, about Red Dead Redemption II (RDR II). Created by Rockstar Games, RDR II comes from the home of Grand Theft Auto – which in all honesty, isn’t a game I allow my children to play. RDR II too, has a long list of warnings for violent content, strong language, etc., and suggests that it should only be played by gamers aged 17 and up.

Somehow, however, we were drawn to RDR II and I now realize why. This vivid game boasts insanely, beautiful graphics and oozes the wild west. Set at the dawn of the modern age in 1899 America, RDR II is at its core, about survival. The main character, Arthur Morgan finds himself at a crossroads after a robbery goes horribly wrong in the town of Blackwater. He’s forced to choose between his own ideals and the gang of outlaws who raised him.

Players experience this epic game as the tale of Morgan and the Van der Linde gang unfolds – the group must flee federal agents and bounty hunters that are closing in. Characters have to cross cruel and rugged territory, and survive wildlife and the elements. Of course, there are more underhanded tasks too, as the gang fights and robs their way through.

Players travel on horseback and this is where one truly begins to notice the extreme level of detail in the game. There are 19 different breeds of horses in RDR II and each one has different characteristics and handles differently. Characters must bond with their mounts and if not, some horses won’t hesitate to buck their riders off when faced with a threat. Then there are times when the horses get impatient and begin to stomp their feet if a player is taking too much time to decide on things.

Both situations are not that much different in real life.

The graphics in Red Dead Redemption II are stunning and the story line will make you think you’re in a movie.

There are many astounding features that come together to bring RDR II to life. (Did we mention that Willie Nelson lends his voice on the game soundtrack?) There are dogs to pet, mountains to cross, pockets to pick, mustangs to break, outlaws to kill and gold bricks to find. Meanwhile, you’ll marvel at the scenery and the wildlife and the cinematic shoot-outs.

Love ‘em or lump ‘em, video games are here to stay. The Red Dead series is all part of the modern west and I don’t mind it one bit that my kids are fascinated by a virtual world, inspired by a western adventure. It’s another way western heritage is being infused into the 21st century: a day and age where western culture is slowly disappearing. With all of its sagebrush, sunsets, drama and gorgeous scenery, Red Dead Redemption II is wildly satisfying. So, if you find yourself brushing a kid aside for a chance at the controller yourself – Hey, a mom’s got to do, what a mom’s got to do.

  • By Jenn Webster

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