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July 9, 2004
Red Dead Revolver - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
11/6/2004Take TwoRockstar SanDiego1-4MA15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
96KBDolby PLIIYesYesSmallYes

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Red surveys the town.
When you think about it there really have been very few games based in the Wild West. Try to name some... Mad Dog McRee or Gunsmoke perhaps. There really isn't a lot of options which makes Red Dead Revolver all the more exciting. First announced at E3 2002 the game was being developed by Angel Studios for Capcom. To say it received mixed press was an understatement with poor cameras being the biggest complaint. Fast forward two years and Angel Studios have been purchased by Rockstar (and renamed Rockstar SanDiego), who also decided to complete development on Red Dead Revolver following Capcom dropping the project from their schedules.

In Red Dead Revolver you play Red. As a young man he was moved to the gold fields with his mother and father. One day a group of renegades attacked the ranch laying waste to everything, including Red's parents, and leaving Red to seek revenge for their deaths many years later.

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Annie aims at an enemy.
Gameplay in Red Dead Revolver is essentially that of a 3rd person shooter. You progress through levels which may be located in the outback, in country towns, or single estates, such as Annie's ranch. The majority of the game you play as Red although at times you will switch to different characters giving the game a varied feel - although the gameplay remains the same. During levels you can enters a "Dead Eye" mode where the action slows down for a few seconds before the hero lets fly with his chosen weapon. In essence this works in much the same way as the "Bullet Time" effect from the Matrix movies and game. Another gameplay elements are the duels between yourself and another, typically important, character in the game. In this mode the game slows down but you only have a matter of seconds to target the opposing player in critical places using the R1 button to kill him and win the duel.

As for weapons you shouldn't expect to see any phaser rifles or heat seeking missiles in Red Dead Revolver, all the weapons are based around those found during the wild west. Indeed there is something enjoyable about only having pistols, rifles, shotguns, knives and a few sticks of dynamite to dispatch the enemies with. At the completion of each level you unlock characters which can then be used in duel and multi-player modes. The end of the level also provides Red with money which can then be used to purchase new items such as upgraded weapons or journal entries.

What makes this game so great above all else is that it's fun. Every level has some interesting characters and - more importantly - a variety of game styles. One minute you'll be in a fist fight, the next in a shootout against a town full of baddies, the next in a one-on-one duel.

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Approaching Annie's ranch.
Having said all that there are a couple of areas where Red Dead Revolver could have been improved. The game is a little on the short side, most gamers will finish it well under the 10 hour mark, although by completing the game some options are unlocked. The multi-player modes also struggle a bit in the frame rate department, which given the lack of complexity in the graphics is a bit of a surprise while the multi-player modes are lacking somewhat.

Looking at this title I think the graphics are really going to divide people. As with Rockstar's Manhunt the company has place some wonderful visual effects on the screen to create an atmosphere. While in Manhunt this was video static and scrolling in this game it is film grain and dirt giving it an authentic look. The levels and characters are rather simply detailed, but it never got annoying like many other titles. Animation is also fairly good while the cut-scenes tell the story well, and are a joy to watch. The only problem with the graphics are that, although vastly improved over early E3 showings the camera could do with some more work, there is a little too much manual control required but also goes a little glitchy when in tight spaces or against walls.

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Riding the horses.
Sound is a key component in Red Dead Revolver to add to the atmosphere and is extremely well done. The music is typical western type themes, you know, whistles and lots of atmospheric music. The speech is generally very good. Characters such as Annie, Sheriff Bartlett and Jack Swift sound realistic and have plenty of personality. Unfortunately the main character, Red - who is voiced by Rob Bogue, sounds dull. Certainly someone with a bit more charisma, or a harder voice like Clint Eastwood, would have been a much better option. Sound effects are suitably meaty with some great gunshots booming out of the speakers.

After all the negative press surrounding this game a couple of years ago it was such a pleasent surprise to play and enjoy this title so much. I was a little disappointed by the length of the game, a couple more hours play would have been nice, but overall this is one of the most original (in setting at least) and exciting games this year and is well worth picking up.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSWonderful film-like effects, but could be more detailed in places.
SOUNDSuperb music sets the backdrop for (mostly) solid speech and effects.
GAMEPLAYA solid game that plays quite well, the camera annoys occasionally.
VALUEProbably a bit shorter then expected from Rockstar, some extras.
OVERALLRed Dead Revolver is a fun game partially due to the unique setting, but also the characters and solid gameplay.

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