I know this is a game a billion of you have already played, but with the recent travesty of Resident Evil 6 I want to highlight Red Dead Redemption as an example of how a game with a massive budget should be made.
Red Dead Redemption has a good variety of gameplay situations, and it nails every single one of them with the SAME solid fundamental gameplay mechanics. The aiming is precise and the cover system is reliable in open battlefields and claustrophobic mines. Even the mini-games are fun; they’re somehow more polished and playable than the crap Rockstar gave us in Carnival Games.
“Get to the point”
Capcom’s recent attempt to make a videogame took a different approach. Resident Evil 6‘s gameplay has a serious identity crisis and changes every 5 minutes. You’ll be running through a corridor tapping X and holding L, then driving a car with button prompts, only to backflip into a corridor and start breaking heads open with context-sensitive wrestling moves. It’s incoherent garbage and you can tell Capcom designed the scenario first, then slapped in whatever buttons would fit.
Rockstar have created an amazingly rich world out of what should be a dull country. Capcom could learn a lot from the placement of detail here, while Resident Evil 6’s development saw 600 people designing thousands of different chairs, light shows and candles for each room, RDR’s nuances are spread out and subtly placed to discover at a curious pace. It’s nice appreciating the sunrise over a place that didn’t look too special yesterday. RDR’s details are genuine distractions that actually do encourage you to stumble on them, because it doesn’t treat you like an idiot and tell you every single button to press.
“Resident Evil 6 isn’t an open world game, who cares”
Somebody should have told Capcom that, because Resident Evil 6 doesn’t even know what it is. It lacks focus, vision, and any kind of reason for it to exist. It’s an “action game” where you watch the action and respond to it. Tapping button prompts merely serve the purpose of convincing the game you’re still awake.
“Rubbish! Pressing buttons is what videogames are all about! Too many buttons? We call that DEPTH, son.”
I call it laziness, old man. Red Dead Redemption doesn’t have a complicated gameplay system, but it’s very solid and the gunfights are only half the experience. Horse riding is intuitive while still feeling like a horse, the wild unpredictable nature of the beast reveals itself as you balance yourself to tame it. It’s tough, but you’re always in control. I feel more attached to my horse than any of my partners in Resident Evil 6, and they’re humans. Bulletproof humans who fight by your side and don’t even respond when you give them a thumbs up. They may as well not even be there, because they never enter the gameplay equation unless you’re both opening a door or climbing somewhere with a button prompt. You’re essentially dragging a ladder around the entire game. In Red Dead Redemption, I always get off my horse before a big battle and leave it somewhere safe. That thing can actually die, and it always comes back to you when you whistle. Seeing my horse die genuinely upsets me, whereas I’d be cheering if my partner died in Resident Evil 6.
“ROAR! You just hate Japanese games! SILLY WESTERN MAN AND YOUR PC GAME”
OK matey, let’s get you back to your cave. You’re proving my point, you’re a serious threat here and I don’t want to be forced into a combat situation. A zombie with a jetpack however? No problem. Resident Evil 6 is such a scattered mess that you don’t even know what to be scared of. In Red Dead Redemption it’s pretty simple; if they shoot you, you shoot back. If you dive out into a battlefield, you better get 3 perfect Dead Eye shots or it’s going to be an awkward run back to cover.
The heated battlefield quickly cools into a sombre mood as you approach a mess of dead bodies, collecting a few dollars from each corpse. A strong feeling of survival coats the scene as you apologise to each person you killed. Sorry mate, it was you or me. Although the high death count is questionable, it does make for an engaging videogame and the situations are made unique by the player. Things don’t always go to plan, and that’s OK. You might invade a hideout to capture somebody, but they get killed in all the confusion. It happens, this is a fierce world. A world without smartphones, a world free of collectables and a world where the only contained action is at the card table.
“Hold it right there! What is this ABOUT, Red Dead Redemption? Resident Evil 6? You think you’re a JOURNALIST? Is this a review, editorial? It’s CRAP! YOU WORK FOR CAPCOM!”
You got me. This article is exactly like Resident Evil 6, so I’ll cut the crap now and get straight to the on-disc DLC. The bottom line is that Red Dead Redemption is awesome, and the game benefits from every single bit of detail added. When a game is hindered by excessive detail, you’re doing it wrong. I’m not going to make a claim like David Jaffe and say I can fix Resident Evil 6 by adding more cars and guns, the game is done. It is what it is. It would just be nice to have more focused games like Red Dead Redemption (and hey, Resident Evil 4 & 5). Capcom has (or had?) a budget many developers would die for, but there’s no use for it if you don’t even know what you’re making.