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Major spoilers for the ‘end’ and the beginning of the epilogue of Red Dead Redemption 2

Butch:

Femmy? Game? I got questions. So very many questions.

But first some observations.

Arthur’s death, him watching the sun RISE, when so many heroes watch the sun SET, was perfect. Here he is, finally fading out, when a new day is dawning. Great stuff.

OHMYGODTHEBASTARDS killed my horse!!!! But, that said, him stopping, in the carnage, horrified, to say “thank you,” was surprisingly moving. Very moving. (At this point, we tip our hats to the performance of Roger Clark, who, let’s face it, nailed Arthur. It’s hard to take “gruff dude” and make it so varied emotionally. He even made saying goodbye to a horse good.)

That was a pretty good variation of stuff in terms of end game (more on that in a second) missions. Not too hard, nice and exciting.

I loved the ride/song. The best part? The last thing he “hears” is some random NPC he met at the side of the road saying “Thank you, feller.” Not a character, not a big moment, just someone in the world saying thank you. DAMN that was a nice touch.

The down side? Milton’s death was rather perfunctory, wasn’t it?

And now…..questions. So very many questions.

What the fuck happened with Dutch and Micah? They just strolled off? After ALL THAT? JUST STROLLED OFF??????

What about Blackwater? It was down there on the map! It had a saloon! THE FUCK????

Is Grimshaw dead? She’s dead, isn’t she? She finally realized she should turn on Dutch and it killed her. Poor thing. I liked her.

I say again THEY JUST STROLLED OFF??????

And what would that song be, what would most of the end be, if you played Arthur as an evil asshat? Would we still get a montage of quotes of all the people he helped? Would the song still have happened? If so, the song wouldn’t have made much sense. Is this game more non linear than we thought?

But really, and I think this is the question that you have been itching to whinerant about for lo these many days…….

drum roll please……

WHY AM I STILL PLAYING????

I mean, that was the end, right? That sure felt like the end. It ended. The horse died, the baddie got fought, the hero died in a very effective, emotional way. That’s the end. The. End. There’s supposed to be credits, maybe a post credit scene, and us talking about the end and what we’re going to play next. Right? RIGHT? And yet, it’s “some years later,” and I’m John, and I have a beard, and this seems to be a QUEST. Not a post credit scene, a quest.

As I know you have been seriously wanting to talk on this for a long time, I’ll just send it over to you.

Feminina:

OMG YES THANK YOU I have been waiting for this.

That is exactly what I have been wanting to say: WHY AM I STILL PLAYING?

The story ended! It gave us a dramatic, emotional, satisfying ending to the story of Arthur–the guy with whom we’ve spent the entire game.

WHY AM I NOW JOHN MARSTON, game? I don’t know John Marston. I don’t particularly care about John Marston. I’m sorry, I know I should care about him because he’ll be the protagonist in RDR and perhaps if I had played that I would be very interested in following up with what happens to him and getting a lot of set up that will no doubt lead into RDR in a satisfying manner. If I’d played that game, perhaps I would know and empathize with the character of John Marston, to the extent that it might feel a bit like coming home, to be able to settle back into his skin now.

BUT I DIDN’T PLAY THAT GAME. And purely in THIS game, I’m sorry, but John Marston is honestly not that interesting! He has been a bland, vaguely drawn character this whole time, getting thrown in prison, waffling a bit on how to take care of his kid and so forth but not expressing any particular…I don’t know…depth of personality?

I grudgingly came to kind of like Arthur over many, many days of struggle and shared suffering. I don’t have that level of connection with John Marston, and at this point in this game I’m OLD and WEARY (like Arthur), so that I don’t really want to try to build a connection now, because the story already ENDED.

And if it MUST go on, I spent more time with Sadie during the main game! Let me play as Sadie! At least I knew something concrete about her history and motivation! We’ve ridden together! Or Charles! Or freaking Bill! I know all these people better than I know John.

And yet, because John Marston is the protagonist of another game, here we are. Because spoiler, you will play as John Marston for many, many more hours. Like, waaaaaaay more hours than I would have thought a game would conceivably invest, once the MAIN CHARACTER was dead. Remember how I finished it at 83% complete? How complete are you now? Maybe 60-something? It’s about that much longer. I didn’t get to 83% by finding dinosaur bones, I’ll tell you that. I never found a single bone. I got there by doing the major tasks assigned to me by the game, while I was being John Marston.

It’s honestly still a little baffling to me.

Whew. It’s a relief to get that off my chest.

But let’s give props where they’re due: As you said, I choked up a bit when my horse died and Arthur paused to say “thank you.” Sniffle. It was a good moment. My poor, sweet little horse.

And yes, the end (IF IT HAD BEEN THE END) was well done. A good mix of action and riding and emotion. He succeeded in getting Abigail and Jack away, he sent John away to join them. He did what he’d set out to do, as his final act, and he died watching the sun rise. It was a good death! A strong ending.

If it had been the ending. Of course, if the credits had rolled right then, we’d notice the loose ends: as you said, Dutch and Micah just strolled away? That’s kind of a big what-the-hell (though it could have been addressed in a post-script or something). Miss Grimshawe, alas, is dead. Freaking Micah, speaking of Micah. Even after everything, I was a bit surprised when he just shot her–although as we know, she’s not above grabbing a gun and just shooting others (the late Molly will agree), so it was probably the smartest move from his perspective.

But damn, Dutch, you’re seriously going to just accept these random, creepy-looking strangers Micah found somewhere? The gang really did just fall to pieces at that point. It had been coming for a long time, and then, there it was.

Sigh.

Butch:

As soon as it happened I knew that’s what this “We’ll talk. Later.” thing was. Knew it.

Because I KNOW! That was a really, really good ending! The sunrise, the dramatic death! Had there been something a tad more final with Dutch and/or Micah that would have been nice, but, as endings go, that was a far better ending than most games have! There was just one problem: IT WASN’T AN ENDING!

And John Marston! I KNOW! It’s such a cheat. Hit or not, iconic game or not, you can’t assume people have played it. You can’t rely on that to make people care.

And what’s REALLY annoying: When you do a prequel, you don’t HAVE to explicitly set up the next thing (or last thing….you know what I mean). It’s perfectly ok to tell a complete story, with a beginning, middle and END that just happens to be set with the same characters at an earlier time. There doesn’t HAVE to be a segue.

Shit, if you assume that everyone played the first game, they know where shit ended up without having to be told, right? And if you didn’t play the first game, you don’t care.

So really, what this is is fan service. It’s throwing a bone to people who played the first game and just really, really wanted to be John more. And, even if I had played the first game, that sucks narratively, and, therefore, sucks.

I’ll go on record now: If there’s another game in the Witcher universe, and I hope there is, that centers on another character (Ciri, CDPR. Ciri.) I don’t WANT a section where you play as Geralt unless it makes ALL SORTS of sense in the narrative. I’m saying that as someone who not only loved playing as Geralt, but wouldn’t mind BEING Geralt (at least for a while. The while he’s with Triss. Not in prison. Ahem).

Fan service for the sake of fan service is just plain icky.

ESPECIALLY when you had a GREAT ending right there! Damn, game, you did something that’s really, really hard to do: you ended a game really, really well! And you blew it.

Well, I’m on record as wanting to play a whole game as Sadie, and I hope they don’t kill her off cuz I imagine she was a much beloved character by lots of folks, so I hope they keep that door open.

Either way, when we were talking of that particular possibility, now we have “some years later.” “Some years” is plenty of time for a Sadie game. PLENTY.

Make it happen, Rockstar. I’ll forgive some of this shit if you do.

Only some.

It’s even more maddening cuz the “ending” was so good.

You spent that much time on this part?

Jesus. Just….Jesus. That’s…..annoying.

At least I’m at 73%. 73 is ok. Doable, anyway.

But as to props, the horse bit was also a nice tie in to the bloggage we did a ways back where we mentioned that the horse seems to be his closest friend. He apologizes to Roach (he’s Roach, dammit. Every horse I ever have will be Roach, dammit). And so, when he’s at the end, it makes sense. I do like that John is baffled. He’s all COME ON! but to Arthur, this has to be done. And it’s cool…not I’m sorry, not “good job,” but “thank you.” He knows Roach gave and gave and suffered and died, and he appreciates that, because who else did that for him?

As for having a brief post-script instead, dude, that’s what I expected. I expected the song, the big emotional putting down of the controller to ponder (you know what I mean), a “here’s what happened to them” montage, maybe, MAYBE a SHORT post credits scene as a segue to the first game (I’d’ve allowed that), end. That’s what I expected when the camera pulled back and the music swelled. That would have made sense. That would have been good. Everyone would have been content with that, even fans of the first game.

Well, you got the plot of the first game. Is it time to share? Or too soon?

Feminina:

Well, apparently the basic plot is that John Marston has been trying to go straight, making an honest living as a rancher, and then some crooked federal agents show up and threaten his wife and son (I guess they never had any more children) to make him hunt down his former criminal associates. So you spend the game hunting down people, some of whom we may know from this game, which must have been another series of fun “oh look at him when he was younger!” moments for people who played the first one. And then no doubt also doing things on the side like maybe finally finding those dinosaur bones Arthur was looking for (ha!–probably not). But, you know, smuggling moonshine or robbing stagecoaches or whatever, most likely. I didn’t read about the sidequests in any detail.

So he’s working for the law, but only because the law is illegally pressuring him? I guess. I’m still not going to play it. Anyway, you wouldn’t think it would require all that much set-up from THIS game to get to that point, would you?

I mean, when Arthur died, John was getting away! Abigail and Jack were away! I don’t need a long explanation about what they did after that to get them to the beginning of RDR, even if I cared about the beginning of RDR, which I do not.

But a long explanation is what you’re going to get, my friend. Oh yes. Settle on in. It’s gonna be great, and you’re gonna love it.

Or possibly kind of hate it.

I didn’t HATE it, I guess, but I did repeatedly ask myself “why am I doing this? What is this adding to the experience of the game I BASICALLY ALREADY FINISHED?”

I’m still not sure. We can talk later. Maybe you’ll spot some important meaningful themes that we wouldn’t have wanted to do without.

Butch:

Huh. So he’s kinda sorta legit. It isn’t a straight up “Those bastards left me to die I’mm’a kill ’em!” deal. I was sorta expecting that sort of thing. Like, in that game, you know there’s some sort of revenge deal, and maybe you’ve heard details about why he’s so pissed, now see it for yourself in Red Dead 2! I guess there must be some of that. Still, this story stood on its own.

Lemme guess: You hunt down Dutch and Micah.

Nor do I, care about RDR. Shit, I don’t even own a machine that WILL play it, as it never came out on PS4 or PC. I do not plan on getting a machine that will play it. My next box will be a PS5. You might have a PS3, but still. Don’t get distracted.

Dude, I said “why am I doing this?!” after about two minutes of driving a wagon. I said that the second it became clear that this “some years later” was NOT the montage I expected.

Well, at the very least, we can critique the hell out of it. It’s how we do.

And we can at least kinda sorta a little look towards the future. You’re done, I’m kinda sorta almost done. This is usually the time where we a) get really excited about a game that’s coming out really soon we can’t wait to play or b) start pondering what game that’s already out we can take a crack at.

Seems it’s b this time.

We don’t have to decide all that soon, as I still, apparently, have a ways to go, but we can begin pondering. Pondering is fun.

Feminina:

Oh man, the wagon. Good times. Here’s an extra fun thing I got to do: after the ‘ending’ when I got to ‘some years later’ it still wasn’t that late so I thought “Oh, maybe this is just a wrap-up, I’ll do it now!”

Drooooooove into Strawberry. Picked up a quest. Started to get suspicious, but decided to try to finish up the quest and maybe that will be the end of it. Droooooooooove about 100 miles along the road toward the quest location, finally it got late and I said hell with it I’ll come back later. Even though it’s in the middle of something and I haven’t been able to save.

Obviously, it reloaded at ‘some years later.’ Siiiiiigh. Had to do ALL THAT DRIVING all over again. And the conversation with Abigail and Jack, which was fine once but not really necessary to relive (it was kind of funny that Jack likes reading ‘those Western novels’ by the author who Arthur helped out).

As usual in this game: don’t ever start to do anything unless you have the time to finish it.

But yeah, apparently the first game was all morally complicated, and John was trying to move on with his life (kind of the way the Marshall had moved on with his life, but Boy Calloway couldn’t!), but the law forced him into this “one last job” or whatever. Probably there were confrontations based on the fact that he used to be friends with some of these people, as well as on the fact that some of them left him for dead. It was probably very deep and thought-provoking. Certainly it has that reputation.

But I shall never know. In the end, I didn’t dislike this one as much as I thought I might, and I respected a lot of its thoughtfulness, and it certainly made for good bloggage, but I didn’t exactly enjoy it very much, either, and I definitely don’t feel inclined to break out the old PS3 to spend another 300 hours in this world.

It’s been virtual, game. So long, let’s not do this again.

Butch:

Unless they make a game with Sadie and Belle. Then we’d certainly think about it.

But we’re not done with this yet! I’m on it, though.

You never did learn, did you? I drove to Strawberry, talked to the grocer or whatever, went outside, saw the dreaded long yellow line and said “Oh HELL no” and turned on the hockey game.

Though….

This is on me. The first time I played the ending, I got to the “help John/get the money” bit, and I wanted to help John, but I was tired and hit the wrong button. I was worried that might affect the ending and damned if I was getting an ending after all that time I didn’t want to I immediately reloaded. Thing is, I knew, I mean I KNEW that meant I was gonna have to redo a metric fuckton of game, and, sure enough, I did. Loaded me back to St. Denis and Dutch. Had to do the “They took Abigail,” lighthouse, Milton, confront Dutch, run through caves, all of it. Thank GOD you can skip cutscenes.

But it wasn’t a surprise. I knew it was gonna happen. It was my own damn fault.

I’ll bet it didn’t affect shit, either. My bad.

But I liked it, up until now. There was, in the end, too much of it (and WAY too much of it if you count the stuff I didn’t do and won’t do), but what was there was good. I’ve certainly played worse games. I’m annoyed cuz I’m ready for it to be over, and it’s not.

As for not playing the last game, we don’t have time to play ANY game that’s ten years old. Nope. If this had been our favorite game in the history of ever I don’t think we’d go back and play a ten year old game, not only because there’s other stuff to play, but part of what makes gaming and yapping about gaming fun is looking at where the medium is vs. where it was, and we played enough games ten years ago that we know where it was. Where it is and where it’s going is far more interesting.

Feminina:

Oh, yeah!–I helped John too, though I agree, it probably didn’t actually change anything. I think we got honor for helping him? And what the hell difference does a point of honor make at that point in the game? But also, I thought in-game “what the hell difference does money make to Arthur at this point in his life?” so it just didn’t make any sense to do that instead of going with John.

Maybe if you went back for the money you could…meet up with John later and hand it to him, or something? Or maybe you didn’t see him again, so you had to end the game not knowing if he’d escaped or not?–except for the fact that even if you don’t already know he’s in RDR, two minutes after the end of the game it’s ‘some years later’ and he’s fine, so that would be a pretty feeble attempt at suspense.

I bet it didn’t actually have anything to do with anything.

It’s true, I would probably play a game featuring Sadie and/or Belle. But barring that, I think I’ve gotten as much as I can from this franchise (including all the excellent discussions we will no doubt have about the post-ending in this summary).

Butch:

Ok, I googled and it is different! There’s different endings!

If you have low honor and help John, after crawling towards Dutch, instead of “I gave you everything…I tried….” Arthur’s all “We’re horrible people, all of us, we deserve to burn” and Micah shoots him dead.

If you go back for the money, you end up in the burning camp, and Micah tried to stab you. Dutch comes, intervenes, doesn’t believe you about Micah, and kinda nods at Micah, walks away, and Micah stabs Arthur in the back (metaphor) and leaves him in the burning camp (metaphor).

So I suppose different metaphors (not watching the sun rise on a new era as he fades away)?

But all that based on one choice?

I’m glad I got my ending. Made the most sense.

Again, I wonder what flashback dialog you get during that ride if you were evil.

As for you being done with the franchise, Rockstar comes out with a game about every five years, and it’s been six since the last GTA. Everyone figures that there’ll be a next gen GTA, maybe, in three or four years, maybe another read dead five or six years after that.

Assassin’s Creed this ain’t.

Worry not about the franchise. We’ll barely remember it by the time the next game comes out. Cuz we’ll be old.

Feminina:

Ooh, I’m glad you checked–that is different! Well, glad I wasn’t evil. Getting to watch the sunrise was a better death than being stabbed in the back and left in a burning camp. Or shot.

See, it IS worth it to be nice to people! Thanks, game! And people say Rockstar has no morals.

I do wonder if maybe being evil throughout would cast a different light on this post-ending bit… Maybe after Arthur’s brutal and miserable death, we’d think “oh, hey, another chance! Maybe we, like John, can make a new start, do things differently this time!”

Whereas now, after a somewhat peaceful death, we’re both feeling more like “hey, I earned a REST, dammit! Why do I have to keep working on this?”

Butch:

Nah. Fan service be fan service.

We’ll see if I change my mind. Doubt it.

Ah, man, just took a nap in the sun. You gotta get outside. It’s right around perfect.

Sometimes staying home sucks, sometimes it very much does not.

Feminina:

It is nice! I went out for a walk at lunch.

Ah, spring. It took its time getting here, but it sure is gorgeous once it arrives.

Although right now it’s kind of more like it jumped to summer.

Oh, and speaking of Molly and Miss Grimshawe shooting her, which we briefly were way back there, how about the fact that Molly DIDN’T actually give them up? She wasn’t the rat!

Micah was the rat and he let Molly die! Obviously, I would expect nothing else from him–him turning out to be a rat was an utterly unstartling plot twist, and OF COURSE he wouldn’t give a damn if some innocent died for his crimes.

It does make one kind of wonder what Molly DID want to talk to Arthur about, all those weeks ago. Probably just her sad relationship with Dutch or something. But we shall never know.