First, let me explain that I will not be reviewing Red Dead Redemption for PLAY READ WRITE. I've experienced a ton of the game and I don't need to go over it all again. Let me be frank and say that you should buy and play Red Dead Redemption. I don't need to tell you that it's a terrific game in all aspects and should be experienced first hand. Secondly,
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS
in this post. I don't know how I could avoid SPOILERS in a post titled "Finishing Red Dead Redemption," but I figured someone might come along and still find an excuse to get upset with me for ruining a great ending.
Truthfully, I think RDR's ending works so well because you don't really know when it's going to end. You've been chasing these outlaws for the entire game and them you're left to tend to the farm, drive cattle (ugh!), and ultimately teach Jack how to be a man.
Jack is RDR's legacy, and while Rockstar is plenty sure of connecting you with Marston throughout the campaign, connecting the player with Jack is a little shakier. If spending time with your son, rescuing him, and ultimately sending him to survive a coming storm doesn't prove the "daddening of video games" to be a successful trend, I don't know what will. Whether a player would like to defeat the mob and keep Marston alive is besides the point. How the player feels about taking on the role of Jack is a much more debateable prospect. In its ability to polarize, forcing the player to step into Jack proves its power.
In this way, RDR succeeds in ways a Grand Theft Auto never could. Giving Niko a family outside of Roman would have seemed forced and silly. Part of what made his family so believable was Marston's reluctance to reveal information about them. Perhaps Roman seemed so annoying and forced because the player immediately learns a little too much about him too soon. In a way, Roman works in his vaudevillian antics. While that tactic might work sometimes, a real connection, like that of an immediately family, has to be introduced and built more subtly. The player would reject a constant barrage of "I'm your son!" or "I'm your wife!" and so they would reject caring for these two digital players as well.
Congratulations Rockstar. I've never held your games in higher regard than I have with Red Dead Redemption. The title has trancended any of the immature trappings GTA's history tows along with it in favor of a mature story, marvelous combat, excelled pacing and a breathtaking connection between the player and the world you're involving them in.