After playing GTA 4 and after being dramatically let down I was very apprehensive about this game despite the positive reviews. I got this game for Christmas, and played 47 hours in around 2 weeks.
You play as John Marston, who is sent to bring in (or bring down) members of his former gang after his wife and son are kidnapped by the government. You meet a range of colourful characters who offer you money in exchange for doing tasks. So its GTA in the Wild West. Yes, but its better. The story is great as you feel sympathy for Marston on his quest and the voice acting is exceptional. But you will run into a bunch of cliched Mexicans, straight from a Spaghetti Western.
As an open world game this is brilliant. In between following the story you can complete hunting challenges, collect herbs, find treasure, take on bounties, tame horses, gamble and do night watch missions among others. There is a huge variety of side missions which make this feel like you are in the Wild West. Not to mention the random encounters where you may find someone being hung, small gunfights, stage coach assaults, help people from animal attacks and many more. Theres so much to that if you chose to follow the story you are missing out on so much. I could talk about the design and content of this game for hours, but Ive only got a certain number of characters.
The gunplay is similar to GTA4 but more forgiving, and the inclusion of checkpoints makes things less painful. There's no health and instead you regenerate it over time. But you cant take ungodly amounts of damage. Your dead eye makes taking out groups of enemies a breeze and can seem overpowered if you use it too much. Its fun and accessible but not too challenging to begin with. Hardcore gamers may find it too easy as there isnt skill needed. The horseback riding may not be as fun as driving a car, but the fast travel options mean you wont have to undergo riding from one end of the map to the other. So a lot of potential annoyances have been ironed out.
While the graphics, story, voice acting, game play and open world are great this game isnt perfect. Its a long game and missions become repetitive by the time you enter Mexico. No matter what missions you do you will have to kill someone. This shows a lack of creativity and some missions in the middle of the game feel like filler. I did feel sympathy towards Marston but he is somewhat aggressive, and I cant count how many times he said Ill put a bullet in your head during a cut scene. At times he is somewhat unlikeable. The ending, while astonishing, made me somewhat angry and annoyed. It was a hard hitting ending and one of the best Ive seen in a video game but as a personal preference I hated it. I just didnt find it satisfying.
Overall, this game is stellar on so many levels. The combat is somewhat easy and the missions can become repetitive. But as a single player adventure its one of the best of the year and maybe even Rockstars best game to date. Even if you are not interested in the Wild West this game may change your mind. Giving this game one star shows a substantial amount of ignorance. I cant recommend this game enough. A Must Buy.
P.S. Play would not let me upload this review with apostrophes, so my punctuation looks bad. I cant help it.