Release Date: May 18, 2010
Systems: PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Rockstar San Diego
Metacrtic Score: 95 (PS3)
In so far as I care, the cultural relevance of the American cowboy myth suffered from sudden cardiac arrest on October 4th, 1957 and officially died on July 20th, 1969. Space was the new “Wild west” and the idea of the cowboy gun slinger was quaint at best. But if Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film “Django Unchained” proved anything, it was that just because the subject is no longer relevant, it can still be a lot of fun. So how does Rocstar’s “GTA: Wild West” hold up? Lets find out.
At this point in Rocstar’s career they were really focused on the idea of redemption. 2008’s “GTA 4” told the story of Niko, a man looking to escape his past and start over in America. This story idea even pops up in last years “GTA 5”. Michael De Santa is an ex-bank robber, hoping to start over under the Witness Protection program. So would it surprises you to hear that the story of “Red Dead Redemption” dealt with an ex-outlaw looking to change his life, but is ultimately pulled back in though forces greater than himself? I didn’t think so.
The outlaw in question here is John Marston. Orphaned as a boy, Marston joins a gang that, supposedly, robs banks and people who have too much and gives to those who have too little. That is, until one day when a bank robbery goes wrong and Marston is shot. His gang leaves him to die, so when he recovers he leaves the gang. The story starts a few years after these events. A couple of shady government men have kidnapped Maston’s wife and son in order to enlist his help tracking down and killing the men he use to work with. All of this sounds interesting, but let me assure you: it’s not. The games story is a mess, full of go nowhere plot threads and false endings.
The first third of the game is set in the fictional county of “New Austin”. The very, very lest of the games problems is that once the second third starts, everything in this portion becomes completely irrelevant. Any way, the game starts with you on a train from the city “Blackwater” (if this is meant to be a hit on the PMC group, I don’t know) and you are sent to hunt down a man named “Bill Williamson”. He is hold up in an old, abandoned holdout called “Fort Mercer”. You head there start away…and get shot. You are saved by a local rancher named Bonnie MacFarlane, and your stay with her is used as the games tutorial. You then spend the next few hours doing missions for people who are meant to help you with an all out attack on Fort Mercer or doing missions for people that in no way connect to the main story in any way. By the time I was attacking the fort, I felt that the story was a rushed and that the game was going to be over too soon. If it had, the story still wouldn’t have been good, but it wouldn’t have been awful either. It would have placed somewhere in the lower half of average. After the attack, however, you find that Williamson has fled to Mexico. Wow, it’s almost like no one would stay in the same place if a government sanctioned hit man is coming after them, Bet you didn’t see that plot twist coming.
So you go down to Mexico, adding a new target to your hit list for no adequately explained reason. Here, however, the go nowhere plot threads involve you helping a revolutionary group overthrow the government. And they just couldn’t have done it with out you! All praise the White man as he brings civilization to those savage mexicans, am I right fellas? And what’s that? You get training from another white Jesus who is staying I mexico to bring order to such a savage land? God we white people are great, aren’t we! Yeah, if you can’t tell from what i’m hoping is the obvious sarcasm here, this part of the story rubbed me the wrong way.
In order to avoid spoilers for those of you who still want to play this, that’s the last of the plot summery I’m getting into. Or maybe I’m lying and just thinking about this shit storm is making me too angry to continue. However, there is one more major issue with the games story that I will bring up, and that’s the characters. They suffer from the same issues that most “character based” games have (see “Battlefield: Bad Company” for another great refinance for this issue) and that is all the charters have one character trait and they just keep beating you over the head with it.
I really wanted to like this game. Even with all their flaws, I like Rockstar as developers, and was looking forward to a more serous game from them. I’m willing to admit that I personal disinterest in cowboys and the western genre itself may be partially to blame here, but i’ve seen enough good westerns to know that I can over look that bias when I need too.
When I wasn’t doing a story mission in order to get though the slog of a campaign I was playing poker. That was, literally, the only side activity that interested me. Most of the side activity are things that feel like they are only here because this is a western and they have too be. I never had to break horses, I never had to hunt, I never had to pick flowers. I only skinned animals who attacked me, and that was the only reason I bothered to go to the stores. Looting bodies got me money I never really had to use, and the guns they dropped game me enough ammo that I never really had to buy any. The gun wheel is a massive improve meant over “GTA: 4”’s gun selection line…abomination thing. A few too many times I had to almost run away from cover in order to simply unstick to it. The worst part is probably the gun lock on system however. In one heated fire fight I found myself constantly locking on the birds instead of the the people shooting at me. And once, after a mission, there was a buzzard I had wanted to shoot for the hell of it, and instead, I aimed my gun at the closes sheriff. I died on both these occasion, if you were wondering.
Worse yet, almost half of the mission take place at night or in buildings and these sections are always under lit. Even when I turned up the brightness and contrast to their highest, it was still too hard to see at night time. So much so that I was looking at my mini map during night time shoot outs to see if I had killed the enemy, hoping with each shot that the red bot icon I was ruffly looking at would blink out.
The game isn’t unplayable, but with how many issues there are, I can’t really see the appeal. But if you do intend to play, I got to and from each mission with no difficulty and for the most part everything functions like it should, but expect some frustration.
Game Play: 2/5
Once, during a cutscene, the drums drum beat completely drowned out the voice actor to where I had to read the subtitles in order to know what was being said. That was the first time I even noticed this game had a score. After than I started trying to pay attention to the soundtrack, but there real is no point. Most of the “music” are drowning single notes that seem to just play at random. There are two times, however, on long rides that are predetermined, where a real song plays in the back ground. Sadly, neither of them are any good. Okay, that may be a bit harsh, neither were my cup of tea. And I under stand that you can’t change the radio station of your horse, but I should be able to lesion to something other than the galloping.
The Voice actors are all passable, but no one really stands out. The biggest complement i can give the cast is that at lest no one sounds like they were gargling rocks. It doesn’t help that the script is mediocre at the best of times. The guns all sound like guns, but they all sound like the same gun. Really, it feels like this is where the lest amount of effort when into. I would say the story should take that honor, but i’m pretty sure no effort when into that mess.
Overall score: 1.6/5
Who is this game for:
I want to say that this is for people who are really into Westerns, but I can’t even say that. If you’re that into them, i’m sure you you’ve seen or played much better versions of this already.