The History Of Red Dead

Two weeks or fourteen days if you prefer. Hell, you could even say a fortnight. Either way, Red Dead Redemption II is almost here. It will soon be time to head into the Wild West once more – but how did we get to RDR II anyway? Well that’s what this article is all about, from the very start before Red Dead Redemption even existed to the release of the latest game in the franchise. This is The History of Red Dead Redemption.

In 1984, a Colombian artist by the name of Diego Angel set up his own visual effects company called Angel Studios, Inc. By the 90s, the studio specialized in computer generated effects work for movies, music videos and the like. You know all the CGI work in the film The Lawnmower Man? Yup that was Angel Studios.

Lawnmower Man.jpg

In 1996 Angel Studios worked on the cut-scenes for the game Mr. Bones on the Sega Saturn and got its first taste of the gaming industry. From then, they began developing their own games – Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. was their first title released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. They also handled the port of Resident Evil 2 for the Nintendo 64 too. But it was their driving games that really got them noticed, games such as Midtown Madness, its sequel Midtown Madness 2 and Test Drive: Off-Road Wide Open were well received at the time. But it was a relationship with a certain developer/publisher where things really changed.

Enter Rockstar Games who stepped into publish Midnight Club: Street Racing as well as Smuggler’s Run and Smuggler’s Run 2, all developed by Angel Studios in the early 2000s. But Rockstar were not the only company impressed with the studio. Capcom loved how Angel Studios manged to port Resident Evil 2 back in 98 and wanted to team up on a new game. A few ideas were brought up before it was decided that Capcom wanted to revive one of their arcade classics, a scrolling shooter from 1985 called Gun.Smoke.

Gun

This was a top down scrolling shooter Wild West inspired game where you played a bounty hunter tasked with bringing numerous outlaws to justice. This new version would make use of 3D graphics and in the early 2000s, Red Dead Revolver was born. The game was not finished but an early version was shown around 2002 as a work in progress. The plan being that Angel Studios would develop the game and Capcom would publish it. Revolver was set to be a third person shooter with its heart still firmly in the arcade, an O.T.T., non-stop, action game with little regard for realism. This is where things began to fall apart. While Capcom wanted a straight up arcade style game, Angel Studios wanted to make something with a little more depth, they wanted a story and characters. A divide began to form between the two as they just could not agree on the direction of Red Dead Revolver and so development ground to a halt.

The relationship between Rockstar Games and Angel Studios a few years previously continued to grow as Angel Studios were working on Midnight Club II to be published by Rockstar while the whole Red Dead Revolver debacle unfolded. In 2002 Rockstar Games parent company, Take-Two Interactive bought Angel Studios outright and renamed them Rockstar San Diego. Now a part of the whole Rockstar Games umbrella of studios, the ex-Angel Studios and now newly named Rockstar San Diego could no longer develop games for anyone else other than Rockstar Games… so Red Dead Revolver was finally put in its grave. However, it was a short death as Rockstar co-founders Sam and Dan Houser had been keeping an eye on this Wild West game Capcom had asked Angel Studios to develop, they liked how it looked and felt there could be a good game under all that ridiculous arcade crap. So Take-Two stepped in and bought the rights to the game from Capcom with Rockstar Games taking over publishing duties. Development of Red Dead Revolver was back on track and this time developer Rockstar San Diego and publisher Rockstar Games shared a vision. This wasn’t going to be the all action, arcade title Capcom originally wanted it to be. Now with the backing of Take-Two and Rockstar Games, with the massive success of the Grand Theft Auto series with their character and story driven gameplay – the development team finally had their vision for the game respected.

Rockstar San Diego

Rockstar San Diego got to work cutting out most of the more ridiculous moments Capcom insisted on including (there was a flying character at one point) and began replacing them with gritter and grounded elements. While the game was reigned in from its more outrageous origins, Revolver still maintained a level of humour, a style Rockstar had become famed for with their previous games. There was a level of realism and maturity without losing a sense of fun.

After a troubled development cycle and even a short stint of being all but dead only to be revived by Take-Two/Rockstar Games – Red Dead Revolver finally saw the light of day in 2004 when it was released for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Telling to story of Red Harlow who, as a child, sees his parents murdered over the discovery of some gold. Years later, Red has become a bounty hunter who sets out to track down and extract revenge on those who killed his loved ones.

Red Dead Revolver

The game was a moderate hit for Rockstar selling less than a million copies in North America, it didn’t set the gaming world alight as their previous GTA games had done – but Revolver still saw positive reviews and a loyal fanbase was created. The future of this new IP was uncertain for a time as Rockstar San Diego concentrated on the Midnight Club franchise instead. But that little cowboy game still left an impression on the Houser brothers, they saw something in the game they wanted to explore. When Rockstar got to create a title from the ground up, installing their trademark DNA and not just take over a failing project, that’s when the RDR franchise was truly born. The next game began initial development the year after Revolver was released in 2005 and this time they raised the bar. No one expected much of it and hardly anyone really remembered the previous RDR title with some thinking that the new game was an all new IP.

It was six years between games but the sequel, Red Dead Redemption was released in 2010 and the series underwent a drastic direction change. Revolver was a pretty linear game, yeah there were slight elements of openness and freedom. But by and large, Revolver was restrictive… bloody good fun but it lacked that open-world environment other Rockstar Games had and were famed for. Redemption changed that as its basically GTA wearing a cowboy hat and just for the record… I think RDR is better than GTA. Still being developed by Rockstar San Diego for the most part but also enlisting help from other Rockstar Games studios, Redemption took the ideas from Revolver and cranked up the volume. The game is a work of art, but that’s not to say it didn’t have problems along the way.

Red Dead Redemption Art

Development for the game was strained to say the least. It was the first time Rockstar had tired to develop a game via multiple studios and the logistics were a nightmare. The building of the map itself was also a major problem. See with games like GTA that are set within cities, developers can use tricks to hide elements behind buildings or not even program graphics at all and use a lesser draw distance. With RDR being set in a large and open world with a lack of skyscrapers, etc this meant the map had fewer restrictions so the player would see more of the world and would need a bigger draw distance which proved problematic. Plus there were various issues with the impressive horse models in the game that took over a year of development alone. The recent Leslie Benzies lawsuit saw all sorts of accusations come out detailing the many, many problems while developing Redemption. And yet despite the numerous obstacles Redemption was released after a few weeks delay in 2010. With you playing as John Marston who is forcibly working with the government to track down ex-members of his old gang. The whole game is just a joy to play and leads up to one of the greatest endings to a game ever. There was some fantastic DLC released for the game too in the shape of Undead Nightmare and a handful of online extras, but nothing was ever mentioned of another RDR game for years.

Redemption was a much bigger hit than the previous game shifting a little over 14 million copies and fans were screaming out for a sequel. Then in October 2016 and after several rumors, Rockstar announced Red Dead Redemption II via a teaser trailer saying the game would be released in the fall of 2017 but it was delayed. This time given a spring 2018 date… only to be delayed again. This time given a solid 26th of October 2018 date, a date just now two weeks away. Developed by pretty much every studio under the Rockstar Games umbrella and reportedly coming in at a whopping 105gb install (on the PS4, that doesn’t include the 4K enhancements for the Xbox One X), RDR II is going to be a huge game of epic proportions.

Lawnmower Man Red Dead Redemption II

From wired cyber sex scenes in The Lawnmower Man to the realistic horse bollocks of Red Dead Redemption II. Angel Studios/Rockstar San Diego have come a long way.

 

What If, In Red Dead Redemption II…?

Yeah I got another one of those darn Red Dead Redemption II articles – but hey, I’m really excited for this game and can’t wait to get my hands on it. And the release of the second trailer a while back is not helping much as ideas for the plot keep popping into my head.

Given the mass amount of detail Rockstar like to cram into their game worlds, I’m sure Red Dead Redemption II will be no different – I mean, they even added swinging horse-bollocks… they really have, check out the trailer closely. Actual horse-balls physics!

But there is one detail in the previous game that some people overlooked and its a detail I hope plays a bigger part in this sequel… err, prequel. And seeing as Red Dead Redemption II is a prequel – that means that my idea could work out too. Okay so for those not in the know despite the ‘II’ in the title of the game, Red Dead Redemption II is not a sequel but a prequel – even more so, it not really a II either.

Red Dead Revolver

Red Dead Revolver was the first game in the franchise and released in 2004 by Rockstar for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It told the story of bounty hunter Red Harlow (above) who uncovers the plot that killed his parents and extracts his revenge. This was followed by Red Dead Redemption for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. Where we play as John Marston trying to atone (or get redemption) for his past life as a gang-member – making this game the second in the series and Red Dead Redemption II the third… but its a prequel so technically its the second or could it even be the first?

See, we don’t actually know just how far back in the timeline of the series Red Dead Redemption II will go. Five years, ten, twenty, more? Which brings me to the aforementioned little detail in Red Dead Redemption that many people overlook or just did not know about. There has always been some sort of debate as to whether Revolver is even part of the Redemption series at all as many people claim that Redemption is in fact a reboot to the Red Dead franchise and exists in its own separate universe. Except that’s not true…

Red Harlow

That right there is Red Harlow from Revolver in Redemption – he is in the game. Now before everyone jumps in with ‘that’s only in the multiplayer’, yes that is very true. Numerous Revolver characters including Annie Stoakes, Shadow Wolf, Ugly Chris and even Red Harlow himself are playable in Redemption… but only as part of the multiplayer aspect and not the main story. So that really does not count does it?

You know how I talked about the level of detail Rockstar put into their games (horse-plums people!)? Well Redemption has a ton of tiny details too and one of them was being able to just wander over to a campsite in the dessert, sit down and listen to stories told by strangers. And who was the subject of some of those stories?

“You heard of that Red Harlow fella?

Red Harlow and his adventures, the events of Revolver are mentioned within the main story of Redemption more than once. That video is just one of the numerous stories told and more than one of them mentions Red Harlow by name. So there you have it, solid proof that Red Harlow and the events of Revolver happened and do exist within the main story of Redemption. So what does this all mean?

Well people are getting all excited about the prospect of John Marston returning as the new game is a prequel, me? I’m really not all that bothered if John returns or not, yeah it’ll be nice to see him and all that – but what if another character returns, what if Red Harlow is a part of the Redemption II story line? It is possible, it could happen right?

For me, I’d much rather see Red back over John… or what about both?

RedJohn

Given we don’t know exactly how far back Redemption II will go, its kind of hard to work out the timeline. But the main events of Revolver were set sometime in the 1800’s, I’ve not played the game for years so if anyone can come up with a more accurate date, it’ll be much appreciated – but I’m not even sure if an exact date was mentioned. While Redemption was set in 1911 with John being born in 1873, making him around 37-38 years old during the events of the game. So it is possible the two existed in the same place at the same time… depending on exactly when the events Revolver occurred. A younger John Marston could have interacted with an older Red Harlow and that could be a part of Redemption II‘s story even if its set 20 years before Redemption. A 17-18 year old John and a 50 year old Red? If Billy The Kid could be an outlaw by the age of 18 (and he was), then so could John Marston.

Red Dead Redepmtion 2 Image 7

The more I think about this, the more it makes sense. Redemption II could be the game that officially links the previous two games together… with added horse-nards!