Last weekend, teenage brother Jeff bought Red Dead Redemption. In just a few short months, he’ll be old enough to play M rated games on his own, so we let him get this one. One of the messages I think the GamerDad Web site conveys is to sit down and watch your kids play games, and talk about what’s appropriate and inappropriate in them. You might be surprised what you can learn from your kids and the games they play. Such is the case with this new Western game.
A while back, I (rather reluctantly) let Jeff play Grand Theft Auto IV. I was surprised and pleased to see his decisions regarding the game. First of all, one of the first things he did was turn the volume all the way down when playing. I asked him why he did that, and he said so he wouldn’t have to hear all the cussing. When he had to steal a car, Jeff would try his best not to take one that already had someone in it! Jeff told me the main thing he didn’t like about GTA4 was that you always had to be a bad guy and commit crimes in order to move the story along.
And that’s why Jeff told me he liked Red Dead Redemption better, because in it, you get to be the good guy! Red Dead Redemption is a lot like the GTA games, as they’re made by the same company. But, while the GTA games are set in a modern, urban area, Red Dead is set back in the Wild West times. And while initially you start out as a member of a bad gang, you soon get betrayed and must try and undo your wrongs into rights.
Just about anything you can think of that happens in a Western movie or TV show, you can do in this game. Showdown at high noon? Check. Stop a cattle stampede? Check. Catch some cattle rustlers? Check. Round up a posse to beat the bad guys? Check. Start a drunken bar fight? Check. Rescue a damsel in distress tied to a railroad track? Yeah, you can do that, too. Bounce around the sheriff’s office like a ricocheting rabbit and kabong baddies on the head with a guitar? Well, you can’t do that, but I had to put a Hanna-Barbera reference in there somewhere.
Just because the events are based on Westerns, don’t go thinking Red Dead Redemption is like Lone Ranger or something. Nope, this is definitely an M rated game, with shootin’, cussin’, drinkin’, and plenty of blood. When Jeff saw a dead animal on the trail, he would stop and skin it so he could sell the hide for money. And let me tell you, that was really gross! Since it’s a Rockstar game, I imagine there’s even worse scenes than I saw, probably involving sex and violence. And you can choose to do whatever you want, be it good or bad. So yeah, definitely best enjoyed by adults.
It’s strange, though. When I try and watch a Western movie or TV show, it usually doesn’t hold my interest for very long. But give me a chance to be a cowboy in a video game and it’s much more interesting. Maybe it’s because we live in Texas, but I really enjoyed watching Jeff play this game. There aren’t enough video games about cowboys out there. I guess it’s the same way with me and court drama TV shows. I can’t stand them, but I’m the biggest Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney video game fan you ever did see!
While watching Jeff play Red Dead Redemption, I was really proud on how hard he tried to be good and do the right thing in the game. Even if it made the game harder for him. When a bad guy would call him out for a high noon fast draw, Jeff would try and shoot the gun out of his opponent’s hand instead of outright killing him. When he was on the trail of an outlaw, Jeff would always lasso him and hogtie the rascal down and bring him to justice, rather than simply shooting him. Whenever someone called for help, Jeff would always stop and be a hero. But he had to keep his wits about him because sometimes people in the game can trick ya!
One time Jeff had to get information from the local piano player at the bar. The musician would only give him information if Jeff gave him five bucks, or go talk to his angry wife at the train station and try and convince her to not leave the piano player for good. Well, Jeff went to talk with his wife, and the only two choices were to hogtie her or threaten her. So Jeff just went back and paid the five bucks, because he didn’t want to be disrespecting the lady like that.
I can’t watch Jeff ALL the time while he plays Red Dead Redemption, so I don’t know if he’ll be put in any worse situations or see any more questionable material than what I witnessed. But it looks like Jeff will be the good guy no matter what. I hope this is a lesson that Jeff can take with him into real life situations, too. When he goes off to college and out into the real world, I know he’ll see far worse stuff than what he sees now. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. But, as long as Jeff remembers how he plays Red Dead Redemption and sticks to his guns and does the right thing–no matter what, I know he’ll do just fine.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel like trying to rustle up MY favorite cowboy game: Capcom’s Gun.Smoke on the NES. What’s YOUR favorite Western themed video game?