Originally Published: 1 June 2010
I’ve spent some time riding around New Austin. I say some time, I mean a lot of time. I haven’t even made it to Mexico yet. For me all the bridges are still torn up, piles of wood just waiting to be re-assembled so that I can cross into new areas and have my face ripped off by something different – most likely a bear. And I’m sure I’ll react in exactly the same way as I did when I first encountered the cougar. I’ll panic, I’ll scream and I’ll try and lasso it rather that shoot it in the head. It will then rip my face off.
Riding through the world of Red Dead Redemption is not for everyone – there’s a lot of nothing between here and there, that’s for sure. And when you’ve seen one cactus you’ve pretty much seen them all. But, and it’s a big but, there are still things to do – some of which are very satisfying. The game will conjure up random events for you to partake in – saving a hanging man (never managed to do it – shot him down fine, only for the gang to shoot him instead), recapturing criminals that have escaped, being lured into a trap by a lady in her underwear and, my all-time favourite, the guy who wants a lift back to civilisation.
He doesn’t want a lift. All he wants is for you to stop and then he’ll yank you off your horse and ride away as fast as your well-trained and loyal horse will carry him. No amount of whistling will bring your horse back, he’s away and, frankly, it doesn’t look good. But this is why it’s my favourite incidental occurrence. I like them to steal my horse. I’d go so far as to say I bloody love it, in fact.
There’s something deeply, deeply satisfying about watching a man ride away with your horse, especially when you know it’s coming – the first time is more of a shock, but can still produce the same warm feeling inside you. As he rides away, take a moment to position yourself so that you can see where he’s going. Then wait. Wait as long as you dare. Wait as long as you think you ought to before drawing your weapon – a rifle is best – and taking a steady aim at your disappearing mount. Don’t fire though. Just think about what you’re going to do. Just raise the barrel slightly, you don’t want to hurt your trusted steed. Then, when your horse thief is almost a silhouette on the horizon, take your shot. If you’re done it right, if you’ve taken your aim carefully and kept a level head you’ll be greeted with the most satisfying gaming moment ever.*
The sight of the man falling, sliding, from your horse. Once he’s off, just give a little whistle and it’s back to the trail.
Seriously, you can shoot eagles out of the sky so that they explode in a puff of feathers, you can leave the landscape littered with headless, feetless, skinless animal remains as you hunt everything that moves, you can find treasure hidden in obscurely mapped locations (that first one at the Hanging Rock is bloody ridiculous – how you’re supposed to work that out from the map I’ll never understand…) but nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing a man fall out of the saddle.
So, if anyone wants me, I’m the one with the mischievous glint in my eye looking for a man who wants a ride home…
*apart from the woman on the train tracks bit…