|Box art featuring John Marston|
I'll do my best to generalize these spoiler free. In a nutshell, you play as former outlaw John Marston. He is forced to do some dirty work for the US Government and retrieve some outlaws that he used to run with back in his days. The trade off is that by completing and satisfying agents they will let him resume a life with his family whom is being kept captive as collateral. If you are familiar with Rockstar Games, notably the GTA series then you can expect that you'll run into several interesting people. Among them are a snake oil salesman, a schizophrenic grave robber, and a cocaine addicted professor from the East. They really add an extra dimension of depth to the story as they have you get involved in their affairs in exchange for helping find who you are looking for. For the most part, you'll find yourself getting sucked in as you anticipate certain pinnacles throughout the game. One instance towards the end, it somewhat slows down, but you should be urged to play until the credits roll it will be worth it. Hard for me to gauge it, overall it's enjoyable. It can be inconsistent, especially towards the end. The characters are worth while for sure.
Rockstar nails it with this one. The sceneries of the Old West and frontier are life like as it comes. Being in Mexico feels like Mexico and being in the mountain feels like the mountains. The bar been set years ago, so it's no surprise that the map you explore is very large and feels like every inch of it is uniquely modeled. The music is pretty good. Inspirations are clearly from Spaghetti Westerns. It also is appropriate concerning what you do, being in a shootout is going to sound more intense than riding solo across the desert. As mentioned above the game is full of interesting characters, Rockstar does a great job on making them memorable. The models of the games important characters are well done and they have natural movements during cut scenes. The voice acting is top notch, Rockstar is probably one of, if not, the best with script writing and the acting of them. It gives you that movie feel. Even certain missions when you are required to ride to a certain location for a couple minutes with someone, the banter between them is enjoyable and gives out some important insight on the characters and their backgrounds and current well beings. Not exactly perfect, not many is but very good attention to detail.
Now this is the part that makes you feel like you are in the old west. There is a good variety of things you can do in this game. Like the GTA series, there is a great amount of side missions and activities for you to take part in. Games like poker, horseshoes, and dice are present if you feel like it. Winning will reward you too with new outfits and cash. Horse riding is a huge part, it's somewhat rigid at first but you'll find yourself flying from point A to point B with no problem in no time. It can be mundane going across the map, but the developers considered that and let you quick travel to any visited town by either going to a save spot or even just camping on an open area. Trust me that helps a ton and keeps the pace of the game up to tempo. Now when you think of Westerns you think of shootouts and duels and well just shooting things in general. This is what makes the game good, you'll feel like you are performing an action scene most of the time. It uses a duck and cover style that is becoming popular in this generation. It works smooth and easy, when in a shoot out aiming the gun will invoke an auto aim. The AI is just smart enough that they will duck out if they can, so this is where the Dead Eye comes in. You'll learn to love the Dead Eye, which is when time slows down and allows you to precisely target your foes allowing you as many shots and your clip holds. When you exit the Dead Eye watch the fun unfold and they drop to the ground. You'll really feel like a bad ass when you drop a group of gunslingers during a horse chase using the Dead Eye. The game provides plenty of variety in both the main and optional endeavors.
There is no question that this game delivers a lot of content that makes you want to stick around if you please. The game itself takes from 16-20 hours depending how you choose to play it. More likely the later half, because you'll find yourself dabbling with the side missions. Afterwards, you can roam and take care of any other loose ends that you might want to take care of. The game also has an online multiplayer, which is interesting. The main hub is well the whole map and you can choose to explore it or go into a multiplayer showdown with different types of games you can play. You level up and get points by performance, the more you level up you unlock more skins, faster horses, and better weapons. While in the hub you'll have a small group of others on the map with you, if possible you can bring your friends along. There is also gang hideout that you can take down for leveling points, you and the other players can team up if you want to help clear it out. And if you choose you can hunt the other players also for points. It's certainly not the most popular for of online play that is available, but it's definitely unique. It should also be pointed out that for extra money there is DLC available. I'd recommend the Undead Nightmare which combines the wild west with a zombie apocalypse. There is no doubt there is plenty of do afterwards, you'll get your money worth for sure.