Its that time of year again: Games of the Year.
Now that the results are in, 2010 seems to be just like every other year, almost every publication and video game outlet has decided upon Red Dead Redemption as the Game of the Year for 2010. The problem that I have with this is the sheer number of publications and websites that agree upon RDR. I mean why aren't publishers choosing any other game? Is Red Dead Redemption really the only game worthy of game of the year?
Let's start out by taking a critical look at the things that make up Red Dead Redemption.
This is one example where a developer just slaps together a multiplayer component in order to attract more buyers. When people see multiplayer listed on a box, they think that they are going to get an immersive experience like Halo 2 or Call of Duty, but RDR's online component was just a clone of GTA IV, and wasn't very good at all. Of course the reason RDR's multiplayer wasn't good because it wasn't fun to play.
The gameplay mechanics that make up RDR's multiplayer, also made up RDR's singleplayer. These mechanics were not fun to play in either mode. The gun play that made up the bulk of the action was repetitive and boring. There was no aiming. When shooting you have too choices, lock on and pull the trigger and continue this until all enemies are dead. Or slow down time and slowly move the crosshair over each enemy, until all enemies are dead.
Movement became as much of a choir as the gunplay. Movement was exactly the same as GTA IV, you literally moved your character in exactly the same motion.
But the movement was inaccurate. You would never stop when you wanted to. Maybe it was just me, but I would always run past my horse and then have to move back slowly in order to finally get on.
Finally the pacing. The pacing was the worst part of the game. I must have played RDR for about 5 hours and I was only about 5 missions in. This wouldn't normally be a problem but the missions themselves were only a few minutes long. Most the time was spent traveling between missions. The traveling was slow, and in order to fast travel I would have had to travel almost as far as the mission itself in order to get to a stagecoach.
Now lets talk about what made so many people agree on RDR for Game of the Year. The story. The immersion. The world Rockstar created. The soundtrack. All of these things have been talked about over and over again in all the reviews and GOTY articles. But the gameplay is usually mysteriously absent among all the high praise.
This is why I have such a hard time agreeing with Red Dead Redemption for Game of the Year. RDR is not a fun game. RDR is a great experience, but is simply not fun to play. I loved the story, the characters, and the music. Even the world that the game takes place seemed alive and engaging. I just couldn't commit to keep returning to this world when the controls and gameplay ruined the experience. Even if the action sequences were fun, they were too spread out to enjoy them. Most of the game was spent riding horseback across desert. The time I spend in games, should be spent playing and RDR felt too much like work.
In the end, the multiplayer is RDR without the story, immersion, or world, and that is why nobody bothers with multiplayer. GOTY Awards should go to games that are fun to play, a story shouldn't override gameplay, even a great story. The world has to be fun to play in and a game of the year should innovate the market in a way that remains fun. Red Dead Redemption is not a fun game, maybe it would be better suited as a movie.