Red Dead Redemption

Rockstar Games | Xbox 360

Film critic Roger Ebert recently stated, “video games can never be art.” While publically revealing that he suffers from damn-kids-get-off-my-lawn syndrome, Ebert also showed he knows nothing of video games or art. Using John Marston, a Wild West gunfighter struggling to overcome his murderous past, Rockstar shows us the dual face of humanity. Marston encounters frontiersmen risking everything for their families, and settlers driven insane by isolation. It’s a credit to the developers that you also feel isolated when riding alone against stunning desert backdrops. The open-environment gameplay allows players to don a metaphorical white or black hat. Do you thwart a crime in progress, ignore it, or join in? The melee fight controls are a little odd and the countless cinematics, though seamless, are repetitive, but the reward is the commentary on our society past and present. The characters bring unique perspectives but, unlike Ebert’s favorite medium, the audience has a say as well. How do we feel and respond to the creative work? This art not only postulates on the human condition, but also engages the viewer in an interactive discussion. Redemption deserves two thumbs up; Ebert, just one finger.