Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption are Rockstar Games’ most iconic franchises. Both revolutionised the open-world genre with each instalment and both were met with huge profits and awards. When one of these games comes out, the gaming industry stops and notices for a moment. With GTA V and Red Dead Online currently as popular as they are, I decided to take a look at my experiences in both games and explain why I’ve come to the conclusion that cowboys are actually more fun than gangsters.
Both GTA and Red Dead Redemption boast huge open worlds that feel alive with painstakingly detailed mechanics. But there’s something about the Western genre that is more romanticised than the modern-day crime drama. The frontier just feels like a better setting than the hustle and bustle of a city.
The Western genre has long been popular in film and the Red Dead Redemption games managed to capture the cowboy fantasy essence quite well. While Red Dead Redemption (2010) was reminiscent of that old spaghetti western style, Red Dead 2 felt like it was more of a drama set in the wild west era.
Grand Theft Auto is more of a crime drama set in the modern era where the world is built upon superficial and materialistic things. Red Dead is more about survival in the wild-west. At their cores, they are the same thing. Both feature morally conflicted characters that do terrible things, though Red Dead’s stories feel more sincere than GTA’s.
Red Dead Redemption features a much slower pace than GTA in terms of both gameplay and story. Whereas GTA is all about flying planes, driving cars through narrow escapes and fast reflexes on speedboats, Red Dead is more about horses, wagons and hitting it on foot. Even the gunplay is slower compared to GTA’s explosive and fast shooting arsenal. Though the slower pace is welcome in Red Dead Redemption as it gives players more time to breathe and take it all in.
Red Dead Redemption also has a kind of ‘live off the earth’ style to it with the hunting mechanic. When I play Red Dead Redemption, I feel like I am transported to another world, another setting and time. When I play GTA, I feel like I’m transported to what I often see on TV.