Sunday, October 16, 2016
It’s a typical Sunday in Ohio. I wake up, turn on my 3DS, and dive into Dragon Quest VII. I spend the next too-many hours playing the game, until the clock mandates I do adult things.
My photographer-wife has made plans for me to help her on a family photo shoot. And so I shower, and put on pants. So I do both, in that order. Then we leave the house.
Fortunately, the family that will be posing awkwardly in front of my wife’s lens also happen to be very good friends of ours. Despite being a chore that I don’t really want to do, I still have a lot of fun. I don’t get to see these friends that often, and it’s always nice catching up.
It is relatively late by the time we return home. I decide to sit down and check twitter. I never expect much on the weekends—Important things only happen Monday through Friday. But today is different.
At some point during the day, even though it is Sunday, Rockstar Games had tweeted a picture of the Rockstar Games logo atop a textured wall of red. Hole—ee—hell!
Monday, October 17
It’s a depressingly typical Monday in Ohio. As I take to Twitter, I joke about a new VR Ping-Pong game (it’s a good joke; don’t forget Rockstar’s Xbox 360 debut was Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis. Seriously.) We postulate that the image could mean a new Bully. Or a Bully remake. For the purposes of my (trademark) terrible tweets, the game could have been anything. In reality, it can only mean one thing.
When Rockstar posted the seemingly-innocent picture the day prior, it took about two seconds for everyone to figure out that they were teasing something related to their Red Dead franchise. Logically, this could be a remaster of one of the previous two games. More likely, it was a sequel.
Then, at nine o’clock in the too-early morning, Rockstar cements the existence of a Red Dead Something with another picture: this one showing an orange sunset silhouetting a band of cowboys atop that same red background.
Tuesday, October 18
It’s a markedly normal Tuesday in Ohio. Most had assumed yesterday’s tease means there will soon be an announcement for Red Dead Redemption 2. Admittedly, I am squarely in the, “who says it’s ‘Redemption'” camp. Like the hardcore, old-school gamer I am, I know that Redemption is itself a sequel to a game called Red Dead Revolver. Obviously this next game could be ‘Redemption 2’, but it also can be anything else that starts with ‘R’. Like ‘Retribution.’ Or ‘Revenge.’ Or ‘Rutabaga.’ Whatever.
The clock ticks nine, and Rockstar tweets again. This time, the mysterious figures are shown in a bit more detail, and features big white words that say, “Screw you, Steve. You’re a pompous idiot.”
What the letters actually say is, “Red Dead Redemption 2.” There is also a note that saying there will be a trailer on Thursday, October 20. But that leaves a day in between for me to reflect.
Wednesday, October 19
It’s a mostly typical Wednesday in Ohio, though the Indians are on the verge of clinching a World Series appearance, so I guess it is a distinctly non-typical Wednesday in Ohio.
The trailer won’t be released for another day, so that means I can spend the day thinking about Red Dead Redemption and what a Red Dead Redemption 2 means.
I don’t love Red Dead Redemption. I might not even like it, though the game tends to teeter on that edge of that cliff in my memory. Cowboys are pretty badass, and we don’t get nearly as many “Olde West” games as we do, say, “Current Middle-East.” Or “Future outer space.” Or even “Ye Even Olde’er Medieval Period.” And the game was absolutely beautiful. Those vistas are still some of the most striking examples of what videogames can do.
The game itself, however, was just . . . well, boring.
Riding a horse across the Mexican border, triggering that perfectly composed moment in the game’s soundtrack, is one of the best examples of cinematic videogaming to date. A few hours of galloping across the mostly empty Mexican deserts, on the other hand, are just brain-meltingly dull.
Perhaps if the gun play in between were better, I wouldn’t have hated it so much. But Red Dead Redemption’s endless tracking and backtracking was only punctuated by ‘action’ sequences that were even more unbearable to play.
Sure, Rockstar has years of additional experience to put into Red Dead this time around. I’m not just not convinced that their sandbox-style games have grown that much. I was bored of GTA V before I even started it, opting instead to explore the world as a passive Michael who just wants to not feel so alone. But GTA V turned out to be an insurmountably lonely game, and I got bored of it, too.
The more I thought about the game, you know, logically, the less interested I became. That’s not to say I wasn’t happy for the announcement. Redemption has a lot of very dedicated fans. There are loads of people going absolutely crazy over the news; that’s a great thing. I may be a humbug, but I am happy when other people are happy.
Thursday, October 20. (Today)
It’s a typical Thursday in Ohio, and I’m still not interested in Red Dead Redemption 2. I’m so pre-occupied with Nintendo’s NX (Switch) announcement, that I almost don’t notice the time. Ten-oh-clock-ay-em. The trailer is live.
. . . all sixty-eight seconds of it. And it’s a teaser trailer in every sense of the word: stereotypical Old West scenes, a hint at the violence to come, and a single line of dialog as a gruff cowboy warns, “When the time comes, you run.”
I know I just spoiled it, but in case you missed it, here it is:
Yeah, that doesn’t really show anything, does it? Certainly nothing to change my experience with Red Dead Redemption, or the last few Rockstar Games offerings in general. It’s just a bunch of pretty views. And cowboys. And (very) pretty views. And stetsons. And (really, remarkably) pretty views.
. . . and dammit, I really want to play the game.