Random picture…

Pretty cooltake on the character of John Marston I found while wasting time…

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Outlaws to the End…

So, for about a month now, I have been glued to my TV playing Red Dead Redemption. For such a hardcore Spaghettie Western fan, I’m surprised that this one flew under my radar for so long. I have a thing with Rockstar Games, mainly because I was never a huge fan of the GTA series. But, wow, did this game blow my mind. For anyone who’s ever cracked a smile when The Man with No Name blows away a string of bad guys, pistol back in his holster before you can blink, this game is most definitely for you.

There were so many levels that this game impressed me on. First off, this thing is HUGE. There is so much to do, from breaking horses, stopping (or helping) stage coach robberies, poker, herding cattle, pistol dueling, a ton of main missions, even more side missions, costumes, weapons, the list goes on and on. The main storyline is an expansive one, but the thing is, it feels even longer due to the fact that there is just so much to do. This is no complaint in any way, as I feel that, more then any game I have ever paid for before, this was worth every penn and more. The gameplay is incredibly fun, doing everything from clearing out gang hideouts, assaulting a fort with a machine gun, defending a train from Mexican rebels, the breadth of actions possible in Red Dead is pretty amazing.

So the gameplay is good, but that’s never really been enough to really make a game stick in my head. Take, for example, Resistance. I played through that game for PS3, had somefun with it, and then promptly forgot all about it. I didn’t feel a pull from the story, there was nothing I cared to wonder about afterwards, and the main character (who’s name I honestly can not recall) left me with no connection at all. Not so in RDR. I will admit to anyone who asks, I can see how many people would not be able to get into the story for this game; the Western is an acquired taste, it’s archetypes must be registered in your head before you get into it, but once you can accept the slow buildup of a Western, the points made through it, there is really nothing to compare. In this sense, RDR succeeds tremendously. From the sprawling frontier of New Austin, where the player must prepare an assault on Fort Mercer, to the war ravaged plains and mesas of Nuevo Paraiso,  Mexico, all the way to the province of New Elizabeth, a yukon type environment that is seeing the first encroachments of the industrial revolution, each environment gives way to it’s own unique story, with their own sets of imagery and meanings.  One of the big themes in this game is that the “Wild West” is dying. The Native Americans have been all but removed, horses and stagecoach give way to trains and automobiles, and the freedom and ruggedness of frontier towns give way to government controlled cities, where agents are free to use whatever means necessary to tame this land and the people who call it home.

So our story begins. John Marston, the main protagonist (more about him in a minute) and former gang member, is a reformed man. He lives on a ranch with his family, trying to do right by them and steer clear of his bloody past. Unfortunately, what is past is not forgotten. Government agents kidnap John’s family and give him an ultimatum: capture or kill Bill Williamson, a former comrade in arms. With this premise, John must embark on a dangerous mission, getting caught up in everything from helping a snake oil peddler, to straddling both sides of the Mexican Revolution. It is a great tale of gunfights, chases, and the like, brought down to earth by the brutality and unpredictability Rockstar injected into it’s world.

So about that Joh Marston fellow? Probably my favorite character to come out of any video game. We’ll start with a HUGE nod to the voice actor, Ro Wiethoff. This guy gives Marston a character and spirit that are top notch. The excellent dialogue found throughout the game is also a big help. Marston is a bad man who has tried to become good. These terms are simple, and I mean them to be so. Despite a horrible past, one where he killed innocents, robbed banks, etc. we can’t help but feel for John. He makes many illusion to the fact that him, and the men he rode with, had a code of honor, and were fighting for something. We know that they eventually left John with a bullet in him, and from there he tried to go straight. Throughout the game, and especially once it’s all over, we are faced with a lot of questions concerning how “good” or “bad” Marston is. Can someone who has committed horrible acts ever atone for them?What is the line between past and present, is there ever a chance for someone to be “reborn,” to have the weight of their sins washed from them? John Marston proves to much more then the archetypal gunslinger such as the Man with No Name, and more of an image of conflict within man. He can easily be compared to Eastwood’s William Munny character in Unforgiven, a violent man with a violent past, a past that won’t be shaken so easily.

The last things I want to mention are the graphics and the soundtrack. Visually, this game really impressed the hell out of me. For how big of a world you play in, with so many characters, animals, locales, everything looks great. I’ll say that Marston in particular is a great character designed executed well, and I have to mention the horses. When these things move, it’s like watching a live animal. It really is incredible. And, of course, the soundtrack. Take this from someone who’s iPod is regularly playing the soundtracks from films like For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and The Ugly, Spaghetti Western sound just oozes from this thing. If you’r a an of those classic westerns’ soundtracks, be sure to give this a listen, especially the tracks Club de los Cuerpos and  The Shootist. I’m working on getting my hands on the full thing.

As you can probably tell, Red Dead Redemption surprised and impressed me to no end. I can not recommend this game enough, it is really a milestone for open world games in my eyes, and is a great slice of Western mythos in a time when it is becoming more and more difficult to come by.

The man himself, John Marston

Cowboys and Aliens trailer…

Saw a new trailer for Jon Favreau’s upcoming Cowboys and Aliens a few days ago, then again last night at the Harry Potter midnight release. Looks pretty cool, it has a very genuine western vibe, with the sci-fi element just flowing into that. This isn’t looking to be some campy Wild Wild West type film, but something a lot more serious.
I love the idea of Daniel Craig in a western, the dude kicked ass as 007 and I’m excited to see him in this. Harrison Ford as a hard ass military type looks like it’s gonna work well too, it’s nice to see him getting back into some action roles. Hope that this one doesn’t disappoint.

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…

New Green Lantern trailer up today. I have to admit, this thing could kick all kinds of ass. Some things I like- The cast is pretty decent. From Peter Sarsgaard as Hector Hammond, the ever impressive Mark Strong (check this guy out, plays a great bad guy in the latest Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood) as Sinestro (how perfect), and even Ryan Reynolds. Those shots of Oa, the Green Lanterns’ base, look damn impressive, as do the alien lanterns, namely Tomar-Re and Kilowag. I’m not sold on this goofy tone they seem to have Hal Jordan putting on, I always liked the idea that he had this insecure, tragic undertone due to events with his father, which may show through in the movie, given some of his self doubt that comes through in the trailer. But we’ll see, I have never thought Ryan Reynolds was a bad actor, just that he has yet to prove that he can do more then his usual “I’m a sarcastic prick but wouldn’t you love to hang out with me?” It’s gonna be cool to see this thing on the big screen, regardless of how the finished product is, the CGI shots have got me hooked.

The Walking Dead…

 

Really digging this show. The more I watch it the more I enjoy this guy Andrew Lincon as Rick. He does a damn good job with the character, and it’s nice for someone like me, who follows the comics, to get back to Rick when he still was untainted by the world he survives in. The supporting cast is good to, I like the guys who are playing the brothers Dixon, and Shane. He’s doing a good job of making the character likeable, even if he is banging his best friends old lady. Interested to see where they take the character of Carl, especially considering some of the DARK shit they’ve gotten to in the comics. The first season goes only 6 episodes, and I’m wondering how long AMC plans to have in between this and the second.

In the beginning, there was a post…

… and it was this one. To whomever has managed to stumble their way onto my blog, I welcome you. Over time, and with proper motivation, I hope to use this space to write reviews of various games, books, and whatever else I happen to be obsessing over at any given time, along with musings about any random thoughts that happen to be spinning through my mind…