This game does not deserve a 10.
Hell, I'm not even sure it deserves an 8. This game pissed me off royally and I'm more convinced now than ever that Rockstar Games have forgotten what made their games fun in the first place. Oh, it looks real purty to be sure but the story is diarrhea on a waffle and its endless dialogue brought back some not-so-fond memories of the Metal Gear Solid series. So in short, 'Red Dead Redemption' is pretentious arty CRAP that Hideo Kojima would be proud of.
This might have been tolerable if the gameplay made up for it. Unfortunately, this game shares many of the same problems that plagued 'Grand Theft Auto IV'. The controls continue to be clunky as all fuck and while steering a horse is easier than a car, you can still get hooked up on numerous scenery, fall off narrow paths into the water (which KILLS you again, by the way, no swimming animations for this game) and just getting your horse to turn around can be a real challenge at times.
Speaking of challenge, this game has two levels of it: Auto-Aim On, which makes the game surprisingly easy or Auto-Aim Off, which makes the game needlessly frustrating. It's like using a sniper rifle and removing the scope. You can do it but it's just seems silly to me.
But even if you're the type of gamer who never plays story missions and just wants to be a wild outlaw, robbing, murdering, whoring, etc... the game is extremely rigid on what you can and can't do. You can't hurt certain characters, the game LITERALLY holds the gun back if you try or gives you an instant GAME OVER screen if you get creative, which was rather insulting as they could have simply regenerated the character when you get far enough away which would have been far less aggravating and condescending.
You can hold people up for cash or shoot them and loot their corpses, but it's not nearly as exciting as you might think and gets repetitive fast. Ditto for skinning wild animals, cracking safes and searching closets which always feature the same unskippable animations making these tasks more of a chore than they needed to be.
Also, shooting up a town can be fun for a while but it's not long before you get overwhelmed by sheriffs and you're pretty much fucked unless you use cheats. And speaking of cheats, you can use 'em but only if you don't mind losing the ability to save your game. Yep, you read that right.
And you can forget whoring as well, the game won't let you sleep with hookers to recover health and you won't be getting any girlfriends in this game. This is because the character you're playing, and I'll be getting into more detail about HIM in a minute, is a married man but more importantly, he's a REFORMED outlaw and "I'm not that man anymore" to quote the game. However, Mr. Red Dead Reform can still beat, cut, burn, stab, blow up, lasso, hog-tie, drag behind his horse and, oh yeah, MURDER most of the men, women and even the animals he encounters without any interference from the game but sleeping with hookers is never an option because that would be WRONG. 9_9.
Anyway, back to the story, the lead character has a lot in common with Niko Bellec from 'Grand Theft Auto IV'... in that he's a whiny little bitch that derives even LESS joy with anything he does and for some reason, this has become the template character for Rockstar games of late. This lead character, who was so charismatic that I've already forgotten his name... (quick check on Google, hey Pac Man, cool!)... John Marston is a REFORMED outlaw, blackmailed by government scum that kidnapped his wife and son, to find and kill members of his old gang.
Oh, and did I mention he's REFORMED? Cause he'll remind you about that. A whole lot. He's also a total hypocrite and every character you meet in the game will point that fact out to you, you know, just in case you didn't get the point the first DOZEN times and realize it yourself. Meanwhile, I'm wondering why the fuck I'm playing this.
How the hell are we supposed to get behind a guy that claims to have such noble honorable intentions while destroying countless lives working for vile criminal scum and furthering their ends just to save his family, whom we don't even get to meet until the last 1/4th of the game and when you DO finally meet them, you'll wish you were still in Mexico.
Yes, the last 1/4 of the game is John doing chores with his family. After participating in numerous gun battles with vast armies and riding across the prairies searching for stranger missions (which was about the ONLY thing that kept me playing this game to the end, as they were more interesting than the main story, including one mysterious stranger (I Know You) that I felt really should have been the main villain of the game considering the 'Redemption' theme they were going for) you suddenly find yourself herding cattle, roping horses, and delivering corn, all the while having intimate chats with your family that beat the LIVING CRAP out of your head with ominous foreshadowing.
This is usually the sort of bullshit they put at the BEGINNING of the game to get you familiar with the gameplay mechanics and to give you a reason to care about John's mission but again, his family were all annoying as fuck, so maybe that's why they switched it around. Doesn't make that 1/4 of the game any less BORING though.
Not to mention preachy, and dear lord, is this game ever preachy. I seriously felt like I was being talked down to and sternly lectured all through the game and the whole thing just had this really uncomfortable vibe that turned it from could have been a guilty pleasure to just plain guilt. You can perform evil acts which lowers your honor score but the game seems determined to punish you for this, giving very little in the way of benefits and making it more difficult to purchase items and some people won't talk to you at all if you're a bad enough hombre, FORCING you to do good deeds just to continue playing the damn game. What's the FUCKING point of letting you do evil deeds if there's almost no benefits to doing them and they don't affect the main story in the slightest!?
The whole point of a sandbox game like this, at least for me, is the freedom to be something you're not in real life and do silly, violent or evil things for fun. 'Red Dead Redemption' is less 'Yeah, enjoy robbing the bank and shooting random people! It's all in good fun!" and more "Oh, you're being stupid... *sigh*... When you're ready to GROW UP, continue with the story missions." And that takes ALL the fun out of the game.
And if that weren't enough, the game glitched out on me several times, forcing me to reset the console at one point when I had just finished a mission and the cutscene just froze solid. And I played this on an original disc, new rental with no scratches, in a non-modded system bought in late 2007 that I've never used for internet and I installed the game to a 20 Gig hard drive first. So yeah, I think the game is buggy.
My goodness, I've been ranting for a while, haven't I? In closing, 'Red Dead Redemption' was a huge disappointment for me and was definitely not worth the $10 rental. I honestly had more fun playing 'GUN', short as it was. I'd recommend picking that up used cheap if you're looking for a short but fun western sandbox game. I haven't played 'Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood' yet so maybe I'll give that a try when I get a chance to rent it.