Games review: Red Dead Redemption, £49.99, Xbox 360

Red Dead Redemption£49.99, Xbox 360

As proven by the Grand Theft Auto series, developer Rockstar is the master of the sandbox genre, creating lavish organic worlds time and again. Red Dead Redemption, from Rockstar San Diego, is no exception, delivering a powerful portrayal of a rapidly evolving America in the early 20th century.

The plot centres on ex-outlaw John Marston, forced by a government agency into taking out his old gang in exchange for the lives of his wife and daughter. He's a relic of a bygone era, becoming increasingly alienated by the change happening around him.

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John's journey sees him blazing a trail across the state of New Austin in search of his comrades, accepting missions from an ensemble cast of characters to obtain information or weaponry. Key missions aside, randomly generated instances keep each ride across the plains interesting, such as helping prevent stagecoach robberies or capturing escaped criminals.

Reminiscent in look of spaghetti westerns, it draws from many famous films. Marston witnesses the Mexican revolution first hand, can engage in shoot-outs, collect bounties for the law and more, all to a superb soundtrack with contributions from Jose Gonzalez and Friends of Dean Martinez.

Visuals and atmosphere aside, the game falls into the same category as Grand Theft Auto; accepting missions for characters across a massive open world. But it triumphs in creating an engaging world where previous wild west games have failed.

• This article was first published in The Scotsman, Saturday June 5, 2010