Is Red Dead Redemption 2 Game of The Year?

For those of you that are new to the website, I’ve spent 2018 ranking games for my “best of” end of the year ranking. With every review, the ranking is subject to change. What may end up being my “game of the year” today, could easily change with the next review. Something else that’s important to note is that I try and write my reviews a little differently. With every game, I try and find a way to write an article in a creative way that mirrors the actual game. Some games are easier than others so when reading these, be gentle with the criticism. I’m trying my best. Either way though, whether it’s a trainwreck or something you end up enjoying, I just hope you have fun reading it.

Whether it’s famous actors, crooked politicians, or great humanitarians, the country’s history has always been filled with a unique cast of characters and while the gangsters of the ’40s do their best to claim the number one spot, it’s in my opinion that there is no greater cast of characters than the ones that filled this country during the late 1800s. From the cowboys that raised hell all throughout the lands to the lawmen that chased them to the ends of the Earth and everyone else that was caught in between, it was the time of the Wild West that offered some of the country’s most memorable characters. Billy The Kid, Butch Cassidy, and Dutch van der Linde were just some of the names that kept the country’s most famous lawmen up at night. One of the most famous battles between law and outlaw was between The Pinkertons and The Dutch van der Linde Gang.

The year was 1899 and the time of the cowboy was coming to a close. The only problem, someone forgot to tell the cowboys. Even as the century began to reach its end, the outlaws that traveled up and down the west still believed that the ownership of the lands laid at the hooves of their horses. If they needed money, they got it however they saw fit. One week it was stealing horses, while another might see them robbing trains. Dutch and his gang or his “family” as they referred to themselves as caused chaos up and down the west for years meanwhile claiming that they were only doing what they needed to do to get by. Whether it was Dutch’s smooth talking or his right-hand man Hosea Matthews’ calculated planning, The van der Linde Gang was always able to handle the local law enforcement of whatever town they were robbing from with relative ease.

The ironic story of the cowboys is that for much of their existence their only rivals were one another. For Dutch and his crew, their real concern was the O’Driscolls. A rival gang that also did what they needed to do to get by but unlike Dutch, lacked a sense of civility. Where Dutch knew to at least pretend to be a sensible man, the O’Driscolls didn’t see the point in pretending to be anything other than what they were: killers. And while The van der Linde Gang had their fair share of run-ins with other gangs, it always seemed to come back to the O’Driscolls. A series of “personal hits” lead to two gangs never being able to find peace.

Had the crews managed to come to a treaty, however, perhaps the war that was coming their way would have been winnable. The Pinkertons were a crew of Federal Agents willing to walk through the depths of hell to get their men and their number one target was Dutch van der Linde. This game of cat and mouse between the two groups was a test of endurance that often lead to bloodshed, leaving the streets of whatever unfortunate town happened to be the host of the conflict stained. For the members of the crew that truly believed in Dutch’s extravagant speeches of family and loyalty, these gunfights were personal. The Pinkertons didn’t just want to kill Dutch that would have at least been understandable, instead, life-long members like Arthur Morgan and John Marston saw The Pinkertons as a group of men that were no different than the O’Diriscolls. The law may have been on The Pinkerton’s side, but they were just as lawless as any gang The van der Lindes had come across.

For Arthur Morgan, a man who was described as a simple man that often found himself being pulled between the right thing and doing what Dutch claimed was the right thing, he understood that The Pinkertons would never stop until every man, woman, and child attached to the gang were dead. Even in the face of unavoidable failure Arthur never stopped fighting, not because he was simple but because at the end of it all, he was loyal. Strangely enough, any written descriptions of Arthur suggest that there was a duality to the man. While the gang knew of one man, the world seemed to see another. Traveling along the plains, helping people whenever he could, it seemed that Arthur was doing his best to make amends for all the wrong doings in his life. Even when things didn’t seem to make much sense to Arthur, he still helped. In one of the entries inside his journal, Arthur describes helping a man who claimed to have designed a living machine and another time where he helped out a band of “circus folk” in rekindling not only their love of rekindling their love for performing together but also their love for one another.

This is what makes Dutch’s gang so unique. You can go down the list of each and every member of the gang and find stories like this. Whether it’s Arthur Morgan, John Marston, or Sadie Adler, the group is filled with characters that tell the most amazing stories. While we’ve all read the books depicting how this story ends, the truth of the matter is that their story never truly came to a close. No matter what the fate of these characters ended up being, their stories will always live on. Civilization may have left the cowboy in the past, but when we think back to that time our first thoughts aren’t of The Pinkertons, it’s of groups like Dutch and his family. So as things come to a close on the tale of The Pinkertons versus The Outlaws, maybe it’s time to rethink who really won the west.

Final Thoughts

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a master class of game development. From the breathtaking open-world environments to the unforgettable characters and story moments that fill it, everything Red Dead does is perfection. Inspired by the classic westerns that came before it, Red Dead 2 is a slow build that asks players to take their time and enjoy what’s being put in front of them and as players reach the end, they begin to understand why. I simply cannot say this enough, everything that Rockstar sets out to do, from its open-world gameplay to something as simple as fishing or hunting is achieved on a level that no other developer has managed to reach this generation.

Final Score: 10 (Game of The Generation)

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