Red Dead Redemption is a Western action-adventure game developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. A spiritual successor to 2004's Red Dead Revolver, it is the second game in the Red Dead series, and was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in May 2010. Red Dead Redemption is set during the decline of the American frontier in the year 1911 and follows John Marston, a former outlaw whose wife and son are taken hostage by the government in ransom for his services as a hired gun. Having no other choice, Marston sets out to bring three members of his former gang to justice.
The game is played from a third-person perspective in an open world, allowing the player to interact with the game world at their leisure. The player can travel the virtual world, a fictionalized version of the Western United States and Mexico, primarily by horseback and on foot. Gunfights emphasize a gunslinger gameplay mechanic called "Dead Eye" that allows players to mark multiple shooting targets on enemies in slow motion. The game makes use of a morality system, by which the player's actions in the game affect their character's levels of honor and fame and how other characters respond to the player. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 16 players to engage in both cooperative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting.
Red Dead Redemption was developed over the course of five years and is one of the most expensive video games ever made. The game received critical acclaim for its visuals, dynamically-generated music, voice acting, gameplay, and story, and shipped over 15 million copies by 2017. It won several year-end accolades, including Game of the Year awards from several gaming publications, and is considered by critics as one of the greatest video games ever made. After the game's release, several downloadable content additions were released; Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, later released as a standalone game, added a new single-player experience in which Marston searches for a cure for an infectious zombie plague that has swept across the Old West. A Game of the Year Edition containing all additional content was released in October 2011. A prequel, Red Dead Redemption 2, was released in October 2018 to similar acclaim.
Red Dead Redemption is a Western-themed action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. The player controls John Marston and completes missions, linear scenarios with set objectives, to progress through the story. Outside of missions, players may freely roam the open world. The player can interact with the environment and engage in combat with enemies, using various firearms. Different breeds of horses are the main forms of transportation, each with different attributes. These horses must be tamed in order to use them. The player can utilize trains for quick travelling, but they can also stop the train by threatening or killing the passengers or driver. The game's undeveloped land makes up the largest portion of the game world, featuring various rugged and vast landscapes with occasional travelers, bandits, and wildlife. Urban settlements range from isolated farmhouses to crowded towns. Besides the American West, the player can also traverse a fictional Mexican state bordering the United States.
In addition to following the main storyline, the player will witness and can take part in random events they encounter as they explore the game world. These include public hangings, ambushes, pleas for assistance, encounters with strangers, ride-by shootings, and dangerous animal attacks. For example, if a group of people ride into town firing guns in the air, Marston can kill them, and will receive a bonus of honor and fame for protecting the town. The player can also take part in optional side activities, most of which give the player money. These side activities include dueling, in which the player must be a faster draw than their opponent; bounty hunting, where Marston can hunt down bounties on wanted posters; herb collecting, which involves gathering exotic plants from around the game map for town medics; gambling, where people can be found playing games such as poker and Five Finger Fillet; and hunting, in which the player can kill wild animals and skin their hides.
Red Dead Redemption makes use of a morality system where players have the ability to gain positive or negative honor. Honor can be gained by making morally positive choices, such as taking in an outlaw alive or saving a woman from a kidnapping. The player's overall honor standard is lowered for committing crimes or other negative choices. This works in conjunction with another system, fame, which affects how people react based on Marston's honor status. If Marston has little honor, non-player characters will feel insecure around them. If they have a high amount of honor, other characters will usually greet them and feel safe around them. They will also receive discounts in some stores, more pay for jobs and other bonuses. A very low honor rating can result in a town's establishments closing their doors when Marston arrives. To combat this they can disguise themselves by wearing a bandana when performing criminal acts; alternatively, a very negative or criminal reputation warrants the player a large amount of respect and steep discounts from bandits and fencers at criminal hideouts, such as Thieves' Landing.
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