Red Dead Redemption
Genre: Action Adventure
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Available from: Amazon
After playing dozens of games set in the legendary Wild West, all ranging from bad to worse, the prospect of ever playing a Western one could call "good" seemed as empty as the gap between a prospector's front teeth. That is, until we played Red Dead Redemption.
RDR came out of the gate this year as the best Western game ever made by focusing on the basics of the genre: character and setting, two of developer Rockstar's core strengths and the two elements that will make or break any Western. RDR's hero, John Marston, is an archetypal Western anti-hero trying to clear his name and rejoin his family, supported by a cast of memorable characters you'll be thinking about long after the credits roll.
Unlike some story-strong games, however, RDR is actually fun to play, filled with guns, dynamite, trains, stagecoaches, horses, whores and saloons. What it does best is put you in the setting, give you setting-specific goals to achieve alongside setting-realistic characters who are well-acted and written well. Combined with engaging and deep gameplay and a breadth of missions taking John Marston from the American Southwest, to Mexico, to a cold, mountainous frontier, the story elements make for a Western experience that's as good or better as those on film, and a worthy nominee for this year's Game of the Year.