Everyone loves brothers: be it the Brothers Grimm, Brothers Sklar, Even Stevens, Pete and Pete, or even Catdog. Brothers, though? They don’t share such a love for their counterpart. New Game Plus News Editor Drew Robbins is often tormented by the works of his much older brother, Derek, a man gifted with much more wisdom and facial hair than he may ever see in his life. The torment turns into heated debate, and thus brings us to the Dueling Robbins, a sensationalist debate between two siblings fueled by burning hatred.
*Disclaimer: The opinions of the Dueling Robbins do not reflect that of New Game Plus, or for that matter, anyone of a rational state of mind. Reader discretion is advised.
Rockstar has become a name synonymous with excellence. Each of their games, including the recent L.A. Noire, launches to widespread fanfare and critical praise. But, like my colleagues in the media would say, don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Everyone knows that Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV are incredibly successful games, but what good are they if one of them isn’t proven to be significantly better than the other? This industry is about shining above the rest, not settling among them. Allow us, the Dueling Robbins, to bring you into the light on which Rockstar franchise is supreme: Read Dead Redemption or Grand Theft Auto IV.
Drew: Grand Theft Auto IV
Derek: Red Dead Redemption
Official Rules – Debates will be organized around four contention points. Each Robbins will get a chance to speak on an issue. For two of the categories, one Robbins will speak first, and the other will get a chance to rebuttal. For the other two, the situation is simply reversed. Winners are decided by battle to the death in the Pit of Despair, but none of that will be displayed on New Game Plus.
Drew: – Famous for uncertain ethnicity, a meddlesome cousin, and a brilliant accent, Niko Bellic is about as compelling as it gets in any medium. Grand Theft Auto IV plays the role of a rags-to-riches roller coaster landing our Serbian hero in the midst of Liberty City’s intricate ring of crime. Red Dead Redemption, on the other hand, happens to feature a boring story involving neither of the two “r’s” as main fixtures, instead focusing on the overused buzzword of “redemption.” Yes, we get it; John Marston is a down on his luck bandit that wants nothing more than his family back. But why not want more? Rockstar would have done well to make Marston the true product of a capitalist world, a man who would rather hunt down the sleekest set of horseshoes than see his child grow up to be a similarly boring man. Grand Theft Auto’s Russian superstar took that route, and look how that turned out for him!
Derek: What Drew doesn’t realize is that often times redemption and family-man stories are the best kind of stories. I want my son back, but I don’t know how, anybody? What prevents Niko from being one of the best protagonists ever is the total hypocrisy of his character. In the story of the game he is often talking about how it is not his style to kill people yet it is entirely possible for Niko to go on a killing spree and many missions Nico is involved in involves killing other people. Sure, some could say he was roped into it by others, but who pulled the trigger in those scenarios? Violence isn’t the only answer! John Marston is a lovable character throughout the course of the game and doesn’t try to sugar coat his actions. He goes through a redemption and that helps build him into a memorable person. Niko is memorable as well, but his hypocrisy makes him an inferior character.
How can you say no to a face like this?
Drew: Wrestling fans might be familiar with Vince Russo, one of the finest minds this side of Eric Bischoff. His main focus in crafting a story was creating the perfect swerve, a shocking moment sure to knock fans and casual observers alike off of their feet. Obviously, someone at Rockstar adhered to this genius philosophy in the implementation of Grand Theft Auto IV’s main villain, a Russian gangster that rises from the shadows to become the grandest of all nemeses in the only city more hostile than Raccoon City. Even when he invites you to an abandoned warehouse, without bringing any friends, you think that there can’t be any possible way he will betray your trust. Red Dead’s villain is so obvious and old-timey that it predates life itself. “The man,” as you may call him. Of course he is the bad guy; he dresses nice and works as an authority figure! They might as well have spray-painted the word “evil” on his scalp for all to see. But then again, then the savage Marston could scalp it, and clueless Red Dead fans wouldn’t be able to see his villainy without that helpful label atop his head.
Derek: It’s hard to call the main villain of GTA IV surprising. Anybody who is familiar with any form of media ever knows that being manipulated is common protocol in the mob. Yeah, shocking, the second in command ended up being the true bad guy all along! On top of this lack of surprise, this happens towards the beginning of the game so we don’t even get a chance to really get to know these people. Your hatred towards the supposed main villain isn’t even that strong because it is GTA and often times the main antagonist does not appear until a bit later. So it’s just a random swerve that turns out important. Sure, the RDR villain isn’t the hardest to figure out, but he is pretty much a classic villain. We grow to hate him over time and we aren’t randomly swerved and told to hate him. We know RDR’s antagonist is one to despise. Again, it’s obvious, it could be worse. Wow, this was hard to write without using names. You’re welcome slowpokes to these games for evading spoilitos!
They are wearing hats, and suits, they must be up to no good!
Derek: The current trend in video gaming right now is to make everything as modern as possible. If I choose a game at random odds are it takes place during current times or a couple of years from current times. It is part of this whole realism kick that we have going on. See, the thing about video gaming is that we are not stuck in one setting. We can branch out and move from time period to time period to see what was up. Chrono Trigger taught us that by only having one time period around present day – and it was a complete wasteland. So Red Dead Redemption is easily the choice for best setting because it is something different. It’s a western and even though it borrows heavily from the GTA play-style, the setting is used so well that it does not feel like a clone. It feels like an entirely different monster. Given how high profile both titles are, it’s very difficult to pull this off. When I went into RDR I was expecting to feel like I was playing GTA with horses. I did not get that feeling at all and RDR deserves the win because of it.
Drew: Modern settings are here for a reason. Take a look at the NPD numbers for the past few years. Big seller? Modern Warfare. We all know the game with the best sales is also the best game overall, so it goes without saying that the modern setting that franchise now carries should be the standard that all of our industry’s products should be held to. Grand Theft Auto IV provides an environment that is true to life, with everyone we love about this beautiful world we live in. Every time I cross a bridge, I pay a toll, and that is a realistic satisfaction that no artsy historic game could ever match.
Pictured: What Red Dead would look like if it wasn’t such frivolous tripe.
Derek: Both stories have their merits. While several major media outlets only care about the violence and such, both stories make you care about their protagonists and what they do. I don’t want to spoil RDR for those of you who still haven’t played it – that’s right all three of you, I have your back – but let me just say it takes a lot of cajones to do what they did with the lead towards the end of the game. The final moments are truly tragic and you really feel for your character. So, the character study was a success. In GTA IV we’re told about how Niko came to America to avenge an event in his past. Seeing how it plays out is interesting and either of the two endings – I still have your back! – are kind of a kick in the pants after getting some resolution to Niko’s struggles. Needless to say, that is my main problem with GTA IV’s story. RDR’s story climaxed beautifully while GTA IV felt the need to change something during the very last mission for no reason.
Drew: Tragedy? Climax? This sounds more like an Intro to Literature class than a mildly successful debate column! You see the difference between me and my brother is that I was too cool for school. Derek, well, he was beaten up at school. Being as such, he paid attention in class while the rest of us were administering the profuse amounts of pants kicking alluded to in his spiel. (Albeit in a different context)
Grand Theft Auto IV tells a tragic story of an American Dream prevented by the sin and punishment society has become so obsessed with. Red Dead Redemption is some sort of boring fairy tale about a woe begotten cowboy who can’t quit crying about the fact that he is a piece of human garbage only allowed to wander the Earth because he is the last man alive capable of taking down his best friends. That’s just not relatable in the least! Last time I checked, I’m not even remotely a trashy being, nor am I some sort of waste of space whose only goal in life is taking down men I used to call brothers. Though, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I do want nothing more than to give fellow podcaster Max a good ol’ kick in the pants.
Why is everything coming down to pants?
With Derek firmly stomped in the ground, we’ve come to the end of yet another edition of Dueling Robbins. Be sure to stay tuned for next week’s edition where I live up to my boasting and actually kick Derek in the pants, sending a shockwave through the internet the likes of which have never been seen.
Until next time, remember: I’m right, he’s wrong, and…
“The world has room for only one big boss!”