Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 31

Great video game moment number 31 comes to us from the cowboy epic Red Dead Redemption. If you haven't played this game yet, then shame on you - the game itself is going to appear on the other list in the future. Buy it, or give it to a friend and then immediately borrow it for a few months like I did. Don't let the western theme throw you, this is a great game. If you have played Red Dead Redemption, you still might not have figured out which moment I've chosen, so find out after the jump.

Video games have often been described as 'cinematic', sometimes incorrectly. Just because something is 'epic' doesn't really mean that it's cinematic. I suppose this ties into the whole "Are Video Games Art?" debate (which I won't get into right now other than to say "parts of them are"), but my point is that 'cinematic' gets tossed around a lot in places where it probably shouldn't.

Having said that, Red Dead Redemption is a cinematic game. Nowhere is that more apparent than in a fairly underrated sequence that occurs shortly after completing the first segment of the game. Protagonist John Marston has raided the fort (gattling guns are hardcore), only to find that his quarry has escaped to Mexico. In the finest of Rockstar traditions, the bridge to Mexico is out, so he enlists the help of the local town drunk, Irish, to ferry him across the river.

Not surprisingly, things don't go exactly as planned, and the duo must fend off what feels like the entire Mexican Army to get to their landing downstream. At this point, Irish bids him farewell, and John must travel to the nearby town by himself.

As he's riding, the ambient noise and normal background music dim, and a heretofore unheard song is played. For several minutes, the song takes center stage, as Marston gallops on. Nothing interrupts your journey. There are no bandits, no cougars, no crazy scripted happenings. For the duration of the song, Red Dead Redemption allows you to simply take in the sights and let José González' voice wash over you as you realize how incredibly alone John Marston really is. Few games would be content to leave that much time free of any sort of traditional "gameplay" in a non-cutscene in the middle of a game, fewer still would pull it off as well as this.


  1. If you haven't played this game yet, then shame on you.

    I'm accruing a whole bunch of shame reading these lists.

  2. Heh, I'm sure plenty are. Needless to say when I say "shame on you", I mean to question your honor as a human being.

    But seriously, Red Dead Redemption is a lot of fun. Anyone with a console able to play it should do so, it goes well beyond the "GTA on horses" meme.

  3. I haven't played this yet - I will - but:

    Don't let the western theme throw you, this is a great game.

    Why do I keep reading this sentence about this game? Why should people be "thrown" by that theme? It seems the writer of the sentence is letting his own prejudices into the equation. This is a real question...where does that come from?

  4. I love westerns. Almost all of my friends dislike them. I've asked them why that is, and I usually get a response mentioning that they think that there are only so many stories that can be told in a Western setting, and most of them have been told. I tell them that that's one of the most absurd thing I've ever heard, and then they change the subject.

  5. I'm with you, man. That doesn't make any sense. Literally an infinite number of stories can be told in a western setting. That's the nature of story. Westerns are no different in that way from comedies, dramas or horrors. And hell, it isn't even a genre! A genre might have some limitations, but a setting sure doesn't.

    I wonder why people get that way. Is it just to protect their own favorite genres? Hell, I don't know.