Red Dead Revolver Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Having already defined the crime (Grand Theft Auto) and Film Noir (Max Payne) genres, Rockstar Games have now turned their creative attentions to the Wild, Wild West. But fear not, as this is not a video game adaptation of Will Smith’s box office stinker of 1999, but a homage to all the great Spaghetti Westerns ever to grace the silver screen.

Avenging the deaths of his parents, you play as Red, a chiselled gunslinger that wanders from town to town, seeking vengeance on those responsible. After an introductory target practise shooting bottles off of a fence, you get to test out your shooting irons against a real band of varmints. Having dispensed of the gunmen, their bodies are loaded onto a cart, and taken to Widow’s Patch to collect the bounties on their heads. On arrival, the distressed Sheriff informs that he has lost control of the town to the infamous Ugly Gang. Thus begins an epic journey to restore order to the West, while collecting ransoms, rescuing damsels and blazing a trail of destruction in your wake.

Adopting a third-person view, Red can pick off gunslingers with ease. Taking inspiration from Max Payne, Red Dead Revolver offers an enhanced slow motion targeting system called Dead Eye. By pressing the R2 button, time temporarily slows to allow you to lock-on multiple targets, dependent on how many bullets are loaded in your gun. Once the effect wears off, a hail of bullets will accurately hit your intended targets. This feature is great for hitting multiple damage points on a body for maximum cash, or for taking out a number of enemies at once.

Nothing shows what a cowboy is made of like a good old duel at sun down. Once a duel is initiated, the action takes place in four distinct stages. Firstly, press back on the right analog stick, and then push forwards to quickly draw your weapon. Move your cross hair over the enemy to lock on to various body areas. A colour-changing target indicator will show whether it is a poor shot, hit, or critical hit. By pressing the R2 button, you will come out of the slow-motion phase, and fire at any targeted areas. In later levels, multiple enemies may square off against you simultaneously, making quick reactions a must.

When bullets are flying, taking cover behind the nearest tree or rock will greatly increase your chances of survival. You can also jump, hang onto ledges, perform rolls, punch and kick.

There’s a great variety of period weaponry to bring the criminals to justice, including a classic six-shooter, shotgun, twin revolvers, Molotov cocktail inspired fire bottles, and the weapon of choice for any prospecting gold digger – dynamite. Red can carry one pistol, rifle and thrown weapon at once. You can select which weaponry you would like to equip at the beginning of each stage. Over time, weapons will suffer wear and tear, so it’s best to repair them to maintain accuracy and power. Weapons can also be upgraded for a price, and new items become available as the game progresses.

An early level sees a peaceful train journey interrupted by a group of bandits. Climbing to the roof, you must jump the carriages and dispatch of all the robbers. The situation worsens when the engineer looses control and the train speeds up. As you dash towards the engine room, you must jump over or duck to miss low bridges and avoid being knocked off the train. Later levels see you climbing up an Indian infested mountaintop, cleaning up a once deserted Ghost town, fighting for survival in a deadly cemetery, and roaming the prairies to deliver your unique brand of justice. There is even a madcap barroom brawl in the local saloon, complete with flying beer bottles, turned over tables, crazy piano playing, and half naked hookers running around screaming.

Once rescued, you get to control a lightening-fast English marksman called Jack Swift. His skills are called upon against Professor Perry, a regenerative madman with a following of circus freaks. You also get to take control Annie Stoakes, a young lady that Red makes acquaintances with. When some horsed gunmen set her barn on fire, you must free the livestock and defend the ranch. You can even saddle up onto a horse or bull to attack the enemy at speed. Other playable characters include an Indian scout named Shadow Wolf, Mercenary army leader General Diego, and Buffalo Solder from the US Cavalry. All of which offer different skills, and change the pace of gameplay.

Some villains offer higher bounties, but also come with increased risk and difficulty. One such example is a dynamite enthused behemoth called Pig Josh. If this end-of-level boss gets close enough, he’ll detonate a round of explosives, causing a massive amount of damage, and sending you flying though the sky. Mr Black carries around a coffin on his back, which contains a rather dangerous machine gun.

Money earned can be spent on upgrading weapons, purchasing new items, or unlocking bonus characters and maps to use in the multiplayer ‘Showdown’ modes, but more on that later. Each location offers different items to buy, so be sure to explore every bank, saloon and general store to some find rare items. Purchasing an item may also unlock a page in the Journal, providing a detailed account of all the key areas in the game.

Every time a stage is completed, you will be awarded a ranking based on your performance. Achieving a good score will reward you with additional abilities or upgrades, but receive an excellent rating and you can also unlock bonus characters. Rankings are based on your shooting accuracy and time taken to complete a level. Executing a headshot will award more money then a bullet to the leg. Disposing of enemies in a short period of time will trigger a bonus multiplier, doubling the amount of money earned.

On completion of the Story Mode, Bounty Hunter Mode is unlocked. Here you must complete levels within a given time or by completing certain objectives.

Red Dead Revolver offers a decent multiplayer Showdown feature for up to four players. There are loads of playable characters from the game and maps to unlock, which can all be enjoyed in three different game modes. In ‘Bounty Hunter’, you aren’t required to collect tasty coconut snacks encased in chocolate, but must collect a certain amount of money within the allotted time. In ‘Sundown’, the richest gunslinger at the end of the round wins. ‘High Noon’ gives you the chance to test your reflexes in a draw. There are also two card games to play during the multiplayer matches. In Stud, the person to collect five cards (dropped by fallen opponents) is awarded bonus abilities. In Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is dealt two cards. When bounties are collected they go into a pot. The bounties go to the player with the best hand once the fifth card has been collected. There are four coloured cards to collect, which replenish health, enhance focus, provide new weapons, or boost existing ones.

Rockstar have done a great job recapturing the tone of an old spaghetti Western, with bleached out colours, crackly film effects, and a cinematic presentation. Buzzards circle overhead, candles flicker in the whisky soaked saloon, and dust settles after every intense showdown. Characters are distinct and memorable, with Red bearing a striking resemblance to Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars.

The audio is another standout feature in the game. With a soundtrack reminiscent of old television serials, it will have you whistling Dixie in no time. Every creaky floorboard and ricocheting bullet sounds pleasingly familiar. Voice actors bring their characters to life with convincing and entertaining performances.

Rockstar have incorporated their trademark dark humour into the script, and levels are packed with visual jokes. One such example is the local Undertakers, which has a sign up saying they are closed due to a death in the family.

Red Dead Revolver is an enjoyable title, which brings the Wild West to life like never before. A lot of work has clearly gone into making the entire experience as authentic, and fun as possible. With a varied story mode, multiplayer options and loads of bonus features to unlock, this game will keep entertained till sundown!

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