Red Dead Revolver [Review]

Release Date: May 4th, 2004
Developers: Rockstar San Diego (Capcom)
Key Roles: Josh Needleman-Carlton, Stewart Spilkin, Michael Kelley, Daren Bader, Joseph Pileski, Carlos Pedroza.

Click here to listen to this review as read by the author...

Let's start off with a quick description of my review method/tool... I have ten categories of which to (un-obsessively) score on a scale of 1-10. In the end, I add them all up to what equals a number out of 100. That's it!


Since this an older game I better start off with a quick paragraph describing my history with it - Red Dead Revolver is a game I have always known about but never played until this year (2023) and I did so on the Xbox Series X via a physical disc. I am a collector, but I have not played it yet on the Original Xbox.

Let's get started.

STORY... 5
It starts off strong as it tells the tragic tale of Red, who is the main protagonist of the story. You will end up playing several more characters as the game marches on but it does get a little jumpy as to why you (the player) are being switched from person to person. More or less, it's a revenge story just like its younger sibling Red Dead Redemption. Speaking of which, if you have played either RDR or RDR2 you will quickly discover the similarities in Red and some of the others.

This is likely what the game was designed around. Looking at the history it's not hard to feel the arcade type of rhythm in the short missions that play out like a shooting gallery quarter muncher that Capcom might have released to great effect 5-10 years earlier (aka: the 1990s). But, it works. In large part, because you can see trademark Rockstar influences after they picked up the game, which at this point in their history had released the early GTA games (through GTA III) as well as Midnight Club and Max Payne. Revolver's objectives are satisfying and don't over stay their welcome, save for the dueling, which can be a showstopper

This is one of those games where you can clearly see several different artists (and visions) sort of clashing with each other. Some of the artwork works very well, environments in particular. Others, like the less serious "arcade-like" characters that you spend a lot of time shooting... do not. To be clear, I am talking about artwork in a non-graphics way. I'm not a "these graphics are so real, bro" person. Artwork and Design can score a 10 even in the most simple ways (Galaga, Sonic on the Genesis). Where this game suffers is in some of the facial models and when it jumps into the cinematics where they may have been better off just going with in-game engine stuff. It was muddy, in other words. I don't think it was related to it being on a modern TV with HDR enabled.

I played this game without headphones on and let it loose on my Pioneer stereo. The sound effects were crisp and clear and the music professional. I will say that some of the music was hokey at times, which again, suggests the direction of the game was changed somewhere near halfway complete. The musical tone fit the game more than the narrative if that makes sense.

This is where the game shines. The basic structure is that it turns the player loose in an area to shoot the bad guys with period-appropriate weapons. Character movement was fast and uncomplicated and switching between weapons is simple. There is also a basic cover system that works effectively enough. It's a blast working through levels, especially when you have a companion by your side (computer controlled, or is it cooler to say "A.I. controlled" now?). As mentioned before, the dueling parts of the game can bring the action to a screeching stop, but it is more than made up for by the other mechanics in the game. It is also worth mentioning that Revolver has a small open-world hub that you return to ever so often that allows you to shop and talk to NPCs before you enter your next mission.
There's really not much here and I don't think there is meant to be. I wasn't living and dying with any of the characters after the opening hour or so.

This game has grown in stature now that RDR2 has become one of the best games of the last five years or so. Part of the charm is that it is fun to see the bones of that game in Revolver. Replayability is something I tuck under "Longevity" of a game and I suppose Revolver has some of that considering the unlockables and such via how well you complete missions but I doubt many will be looking to do that 20 years on. I do think there's an opportunity here for Rockstar to go back and clean up some of this game because the gameplay works.

Red Dead Redemption, it's as simple as that. I consider RDR2 to be a near masterpiece of modern gaming.

It's fun. This category is a catch-all for games that might misfire on a lot of things but still be a great time. This game is straightforward fun.

The cover art for the game is solid work. The typography, particularly on the spine is very noticeable and clean. The disc art features a silhouette of a cowboy on a horse that I like. They kept things simple and effective.


Closing Comment

At this point in Red Dead Revolver's life, it has become the wise old head of the incredibly successful series of Red Dead Redemption games. This makes returning to it more of curiosity than a gaming experience, but that doesn't take away from the solid experience this game provides on its own.