Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Thoughts on "Red Dead Redemption", pt3

            Anyway, at the end of the Mexican Revolution you capture Javier, kill Bill, and help the revolution win at the expense of itself.  Hooray for John.  You are then told the leader of your gang has shown up and you need to get him if you want to go back to your family.  And this is the part when I started hating John.  The Government officials who are forcing him to do this are completely in the right, and John is a monster.
            John is a mass murderer and criminal.  Regardless of his current motivation and whatever else he has done since his days of younger-man-violence doesn't make up for what he has done.  What is more it isn't just me saying that.  Satan (the literal Satan) tells John as much.  But the government agents are sticks in the mud and douches so you as the player are not supposed to like them.  I guess?
            So you head out to catch the leader of your old gang, Dutch.  You have numerous opportunities to do so, are given hosts of reasons to do so, but for some goddamn reason John doesn't.  John has been shown as able to shoot the wings off a fly but can't bring himself to shoot a mass murderer like Dutch even when Dutch blows an innocent woman's head off in front of John.
            Turns out Dutch is some sort of anarchic primitivist marauder, justifying his violence by allying himself with Indians who had their land taken away.  You are shown to be on the side of assholes when they have John escort and assist a racist, drug abusing, Yale phrenology professor around.  Because civilization is clearly the breeder of limp wristed assholes, not like the frontier, which breed real (murderous) men like John.  This message is stupid, and turns a middle finger up at the player who has grown up in the relative comfort and luxury of civilization.  I resent this.
Mostly because both I, and the game itself are products of this civilization.

            Ultimately the end(s) of the game is unquestionably what I have the most problems with.  After Dutch is dead John is allowed to return to his family.  In an ideal happy ending John would ride up to his house, the camera would pan far back and you would watch him walk into his home and the credits would roll.  The journey would be at an end.  The message being that monsters like John get to live and be happy so long as they are monsters for the civilization they would otherwise be a terror to.  It is a complex and damning message to society that glorifies violence with happy endings.  It keeps going.
            Much like the assault on the Fort in Act I, this ending does not happen.  Instead you meet John's wife, uncle, son, and dog.  You do boring missions like killing birds before they eat your corn, herding cattle, and hunting caribou.  Wonderful.  I will admit that I like the character of the wife.  She is flawed and sassy.  There was some legitimate heart put into the writing and performance of the character.
            Then the next ending happens.  Turns out the government are not going to let John go.  He has killed too many people to not face justice.  An army attacks your farm.  This only adds to the game vs story issues because I have a pardon letter in my inventory which would absolve me of any unlawful murder or massacre I might have committed during the game.  This game mechanic can get me out of a $10,000 bounty for the burning of a nunnery, orphanage, and village of retired veterinarians, but it does not function in this scripted event.
            Anyway... there is a shoot out.  John's uncle dies, I think this is supposed to make you sad, I did not like the character so it got a "meh" from me.  John's wife and son escape on horseback.  And ultimately John is gunned down by about half a million rounds of ammunition.  This is again a section which demands the credits should roll.
            Your character has died.  The message of the game is one of justice unyielding.  You cannot escape the wages of sin.  Second chances won't be earned in a civilized society.  Bit of a downer message but I would have been okay with that.  THEN THE GAME KEEPS GOING.

Also, he's been in worse situations in the game, another scenario in which the story and the gameplay are at odds.
(Continued in the End...)

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