It’s rare when a video game defines its own genre or sub genre. If we ask you to name the definitive zombie game, for example, you might say Left 4 Dead, Resident Evil or DayZ.  First person shooter? Take your pick, with Halo, Call of Duty or a number of quality candidates on deck.  

Greatest open world game? That’s up for debate, but narrow it down to western-themed games and there’s only one answer, Red Dead Redemption. Activision’s Gun made its mark almost a decade ago, but it’ll never eclipse Rockstar’s tremendous and critically acclaimed effort.  You don’t play the game as much as you get lost in its meticulously crafted world. It’s arguably the greatest game from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation, and the reasons are obvious. 

It perfectly captured the Wild West 

It sounds foolish typing that since we didn’t live in the 1800s, but having watched countless episodes of HBO’s Deadwood and several Clint Eastwood movies (even a little Young Guns with Emilio Estevez), no other game comes close to nailing the raw brutality of the Old West. Taming wild horses, hunting and then skinning animals, intense shootouts and playing poker at the saloon; that scratches the surface of what you’ll experience in areas with names like Cholla Springs, Punta Orgullo and Hennigan’s Stead. We still remember riding our horse across the desert with lightning flashes in the distance.  Few games have such a believable environment, and even fewer successfully embody such a celebrated moment in history. You can keep Los Santos in GTA 5

Undead Nightmare set the standard for downloadable content

This is still the greatst DLC ever released. Undead Nightmare injected a healthy dose of zombies into Red Dead Redemption, complete with new story elements, but it’s so much deeper than that. You could hunt zombie animals, nab the Chupacabra and ride the Four Horses of the Apocalypse; track down all the Sasquatches for a surprise ending you’ll never see coming. There’s literally hours of gameplay tacked on to an already content rich video game. Incredible. 

John Marston, hero 

How many video game characters do you form an emotional bond with? Trevor’s a nut in GTA 5, but we didn’t feel for the guy, or care if he lived or died. RDR’s John Marston, on the other hand…we’d buy him a drink.  We didn’t play as this character. We became him. All he wanted was to settle down and spend time with his family until the government took it all away and forced him to revisit his violent past. He’s a badass, but there’s a vulnerability that makes him relatable. That said, the ending. Oh wow, what a crazy finish.

Then we have other memorable characters… 

Like this dirty guy. 

And the Marshal. 

Wow, and this amazing moment

No words necessary. 

What do you think of Red Dead Redemption? Tell us your favorite moment.