I finished Red Dead Redemption. I liked it. I can't remember the last time I played an Old West video game, but the best Western game I've ever played. The look of the game is perfect. The glorious sunsets, the sun scorched deserts, the antique firearms, and flawless horse animation -- I can see why this game is so highly recomended!
I played on "hardcore" difficulty where combat is an enjoyably deadly affair and death is dealt with a single bullet (or two). I particularly enjoyed the challenge of ridin' an' shootin' but I didn't enjoy the "deadeye" slow motion and only used it as a crutch when I was outgunned.
My favorite memory was hunting mountain lions with a knife. Every once in a while, when I was playing RDR I'd hear a roar and then see a Mountain Lion kill my character, with no hope of retaliation. (On "Hardcore" difficulty mountain lions are deadly!) After a while I learned to anticipate their arrival. Horses whinny in fear whenever they sense a dangerous predator, but Mountain Lions are the only silent and invisible predator. Even so, all my Mountain Lion hunting trips ended with me as the prey. My first break was when I stumbled across a sleeping Mountain Lion. I had never seen one before and it was very helpful to get to see what it was that was hunting me. I tried to soften it up with some small arms fire, but it escaped.
After that I set out bait. I saw a lot of wolves and boar, but precious few mountain lions. Eventualy I encountered one by chance, wounded it and chased it on horseback. My plan was to kill it with my knife, but instead my horse trampled it to death and I was no closer to my goal. The big breakthrough for me, was when I finaly attracted a Mountain Lion to some bait. I was up on top of a tall hill looking down, and I got to observe it's sneeking pattern and most importantly how it moves. An RDR lion moves like a race car. It even fishtails when it accellerates. After that, hunting them was easy. One I hunted from horseback, and the other I was on foot.
I also enjoyed the battles on the river and the stage coach. Those were a lot of fun.
That said, I did not enjoy the third act. It's non-Western and the gameplay takes a turn for the worse. Whereas in the first two acts I was very happy to blaze away with my cowboy weapons in real time, act three has a bunch of cheap ambushes that can only be survived with "deadeye." The third part is full of Plot! History! and Acting! that is lamentably bad. Worst of all, everyting is played against type. The lawmen are unlawful, the villian is not a villian, the revolutionary is not revolutionary, the anthropologist is not an anthropologist and so forth. The effect is a disorienting nightmare and I was glad when the game ended.
RDR doesn't have the fun or lasting appeal of DDO, but I enjoyed it for a few weeks. My 6yo daughter thought the horse stuff was great, and was forever commanding me to lasso and break more wild stalions.
Red Dead Redemption is a solid game set in an exotic milie but don't listen to the actors or play Act III.