With a canvas as large as the Old West and a reputation for building massive interactive worlds; to say that expectations were high for Red Dead Redemption 2 would be an understatement.

Thankfully Rockstar was more than up to the task and have crafted the ultimate Wild West adventure simulator which gives gamers so many choices along the way.

Playing as a member of the gang forced to take refuge from bitter cold and hostile enemies, players get a tutorial in combat, hunting, riding, and various other skills they will need to survive. In time, players will forge their own path which can involve any number of options from collecting bounties, robbing trains, helping people, and more.

There are countless side quests to go with the main story and each frame of the game is stunning and epic with its sweeping vistas and scenic locales. You truly get a sense of how big the map is by just seeing the time it can take to travel from one locale to another.

Along the way players will upgrade their gear and can find new horses including some rare ones indeed which will take some effort to obtain.

The horses themselves are impressive as they simply are not there to provide transportation, but are vital characters that players need to bond with and develop a solid relationship in order to survive. Bandits and Lawmen are not the only dangers facing players, as there are numerous dangerous animals from Wolves to Bears which players will encounter.

The game does require a solid investment of time as it is not something you can sit down and play an hour at a time. Players will have to pay attention to cut scenes and travel often to get to needed areas and to collect vital resources. While some may find it a bit slow starting out; once you get a couple of chapters in; things really get rolling.

The graphics and sound are highly detailed and very immersive and I remember my wife thinking one segment of gameplay was animation until she saw my weaving style of horsemanship on display.

As I write this, Rockstar has started Beta access for the Online portion of the game which gives players even more options to enjoy. Playing with and against other players is a big draw but naturally some balancing and adjustments will need to be made. I found myself on a mission recently that once I completed the first part, I was unable to locate where to go and what to do next. This was further complicated by restrictions on leaving the mission area. I also attempted to go Lone Wolf and shoot up a town to see what happens as players often do in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto Series.

Instead of fleeing from the expected mob of Lawmen, I was told that my mission had failed due to the Law being alerted.

It would be nice to be able to customize the controls as I at times found the combat mechanics a bit tricky as I play most of my shooters on a PC and having to be precise or score multiple hits on a moving target with the weapons of the era and a Dual Shock 4 was a bit challenging.

That being said; Red Dead Redemption 2 is a stunning achievement and one that has to be experienced.

5 stars out of 5.