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Red Dead Revolver Xbox

Published by Rockstar Games
Developed by Rockstar San Diego
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99

You have to wonder why there has been such a lack of games based on The Wild West. After Outlaws and Desperados it's difficult to think of a Cowboy based game and those two are now years old. Perhaps the reason for this is that we no longer have Western movies like we used to. There's been no actor, in my opinion, with the presence of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in recent years that could truly make a Western movie memorable. As a game though there's plenty of scope for creating something special. It's time to show our true grit and jump into our blazing saddles as we take a look at Red Dead Revolver.

Red Dead Revolver is the latest Rockstar Games title that attempts to capture that movie like feel within a game. If you've ever watched and enjoyed any of the legendary Western movies you'll certainly be happy with the idea behind Red Dead Revolver. During the game you'll be controlling a few characters but for most of the time you'll play as Red (you get to play as other characters such as Annie Stoakes and Jack Swift but they're not as interesting). At the beginning of the game Red's father is killed after only shortly being reunited with his family. Red's father had just returned to report his new found wealth having discovered a gold deposit. However a gang of bad guys ambush the family homestead and despite the efforts of Red, his father is killed and from that point on Red is set on revenge.

The game is essentially a third person shooter and the goals are mainly to wipe out the enemies in question. Of course Rockstar Games are no strangers to third person shooters and one of their most well known titles is the stylish Max Payne. Max Payne had a few tricks up his sleeve and Red also has a few. Dead Eye can be considered the Western version of bullet time and allows Red to initiate a temporary slow motion mode and designate as many lock-ons your enemy as you have bullets left. This allows you to take down more powerful enemies but, as with bullet time, the use of Dead Eye is limited because once the Dead Eye meter empties it's the end of slow motion so it needs to be used wisely. Shootouts are handled in a similar manner with the exception of having to draw your gun before you can pick your lock-on points. The action once again goes to a temporary slow motion and you'll need to be quick and precise to win the shootout, which adds to the tension.

As you'll be spending virtually all of the game firing at your enemies it's vital that the control system is up to scratch and fortunately it is. Pressing the Left trigger will draw your weapon and bring up the cross hair that you aim with the left analogue stick. Pressing the Right trigger will fire your weapon. On the subject of weapons there are plenty to obtain in addition to the revolver such as the Owl rifle, Scorpion gun, Bayonet rifle etc., you also have weapons that can be thrown such as the fire bottle and dagger. You'll get money, known as a bounty for disposing of the bad guys and in between missions you'll get the chance to buy other weapons and items. As you would expect there is an auto-targeting aiming aid that isn't too generous as to make the game too easy. The cross hair will turn red when you're on target but it's also worth mentioning that you can target specific areas of the body so in effect a head shot is more desirable as it's ammo saving. Red can strafe, roll and take cover and there are usually plenty of objects to use as cover from which you can lean out and take shots at your enemies. It's not as sophisticated as the cover fire we saw in kill.switch but nevertheless it's functional and works well.

Whilst Read Dead Revolver is certainly a very enjoyable game, particularly if you're a fan of Westerns, it does have some problems. The enemy AI is generally OK but there are times when an enemy will just stand by you without making an attack although this doesn't occur too often. If you're left-handed then you're also in for a disappointment as the game doesn't allow you to alter the control system to a configuration of your choice. Although it's not perfect Red Dead Revolver certainly has it's share of great action but it's a shame that it doesn't last longer than it does. The single player game will probably take around 9 hours to complete. Once completed you'll unlock Bounty Hunter mode, which will add time limits to certain levels as well as other objectives. This is a nice touch but I suspect not everyone will want to play through a second time. There are some multiplayer modes such as Bounty Hunter, Sundown and High Noon and these support 4 players providing you have a Multitap but they are nowhere near as good the single player game.

What I think Rockstar San Diego should be commended for is the look of the game, it just feels right. From a technical perspective I suppose the characters could have looked better but it's rather obvious that a caricatured take was opted for rather than trying to make the characters look realistic. The cutscenes imitate the look of watching an old film. You'll often see the small specks that denote film deterioration that gives the game that authentic Western film look. The various locations all look like they've been pulled from a spaghetti Western and again this only adds to the excellent Western ambience the game has. The game camera is controlled by the right analogue stick and appears to have little automatic control. This might be seen as an annoyance by some but in truth many games rarely have a camera that doesn't require constant alteration so it's no big deal. The Xbox version has a rock solid frame rate, which is an improvement on the PlayStation 2 version, and the various smoke and blur effects seem to look better too. The Xbox version also has far less aliasing problems, which again makes the graphics look sharper.

Red Dead Revolver is subtitled but you'll have to enable the subtitles. The cutscenes are shown in a letterbox format with the text, which is nice and large being displayed in the lower border. Tutorial tips are delivered via text and Rockstar San Diego deserve praise for the way they've implemented the tutorial messages. Rather than simply having a tutorial at the start of the game you'll receive tutorial tips as you need them. At the beginning of the game you'll be shown how to move, control the camera, aim and shoot. In the second chapter you'll be shown how to use the Dead Eye mode, just before you'll need to use it and in the third chapter you'll be introduced to shoot outs. You'll be given the chance to practice as much as you like before you get to perform the actions for real. I found this method of delivering the tutorial much better and it makes the learning curve very comfortable.

Taken purely as an action game Red Dead Revolver isn't the best out there to be honest but like all Rockstar Games titles it has style and it's this style that will keep you playing until the game is complete. The action can get repetitive but it's also addictive. The Xbox version is the better of the two, but only just, as it sports slightly better visual effects and much quicker loading times. It's great to see that the game is subtitled and this allows deaf gamers to fully enjoy the game. Whilst the single player game is very enjoyable though it isn't all that long and this is probably the biggest problem with the game, unless you're left-handed and then the control system that you can't change to a southpaw scheme will be your biggest problem. The game manages to capture that Western feel though, which in itself is an impressive feat. What we do have here though is a solid base for a sequel.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10
An enjoyable game that whilst it's not perfect will be appreciated by those who enjoy a good Western movie. If you own both Xbox and PlayStation 2 then the Xbox version is the preferred one as it's load times are much shorter (and you don't need a Multitap for 4 player games).

Deaf Gamers comment:
No problems as the game is subtitled.