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Three days of play time (I haven’t turned the PS3 on today) and I’ve logged more than ten solid hours into Red Dead. The game estimates I’ve completed a little more than 34% of the single-player gameplay, though that leaves multiplayer and random encounters. Actually, I don’t know if it’s counting achievements like the survivalist challenges either.

Sean’s very right about my first experiences with the game. I was livid and positively blind with rage about every thirty seconds for my first hour of gameplay but that fell off quickly as I learned how to play a GTA-esque again. Since those heart-pounding rages all but ceased I’ve had a fantastic time with the game.

Now, I’m not jumping up off of the couch and hooting every victory like some games (read: SSF4) can make me do. But those games I usually play for a couple of hours at a stretch. Red Dead has held me for more than three hours all three nights it has been mine. It’s got that fantastic variety I have trouble tiring out. If I get tired of following the story, I can go try some of the challenges. I can clear out a gang hideout or hunt a bounty. I can even just ride around the desert until something happens, knowing I won’t have to search for long.

I don’t understand the few reviews that have claimed the game feels empty at some points. I suppose coming over a ridge and looking out across the desert might inspire that idea for a few moments but that expanse you’re looking at is far from barren. In fact, sometimes it seems overfull. It’s a little conspicuous when four or five folks implore or attack you on your way from one town to the next along thin horse trails. Still, that happens rarely. I think they’ve balanced the events quite well.

Anyways, the reason I’m writing all of this for you (read: for me) without having even touched the online portions is because I think the game has gripped me. I would have told you half an hour ago that I really like the game and that I’m enjoying it. However, a moment ago I turned my eyes from my monitor towards the PS3. I was struck by an image of my console growing a miniature saguaro cactus from its top and red desert dust spilling lazily out of its vents as if being exhaled. I wasn’t certain in that instant if that idea was in my head or if my eyes were convinced that I saw this madness happening across the room in the A/V cupboard.

I am very certain now that I love this game and that it is consuming me. As long as I have possessed it, it has possessed me.

- Matt (RNP)