I am very much wanting to talk about Red Dead Redemption this morning, even though I've only played a little bit and don't really have very much of substance to discuss. Here's what I can say:
I was thoroughly sucked in from the moment the opening cinematic started rolling, and I only stopped playing because the hour was far too late. It's absolutely Wild West GTA, but it feels a lot more important than that phrase might indicate. The world that they've created is a sight to behold; every thing you see might as well be a photograph. I remember being impressed by the level of detail in GTA4, and RDR pretty much blows it out of the water. Take a stroll down the main street in one of the towns and you'll see what I mean - the way the telegraph wires wave in the wind, the way the tumbleweeds roll down the plain.
You can definitely feel the GTA4 engine in the way the game controls, and there are a number of subtle improvements that I'm hoping will make it into the next GTA. The biggest thing: regenerating health. Ignore that it's not "realistic" - nothing in any of these games is realistic. Regenerating health answers maybe the biggest nuisance in the GTA games, which is that after you finish a mission, you have to buy a new bulletproof vest and eat a cheeseburger before you can feel comfortable that you'll survive the next mission. Here, if you get in trouble, you take cover and wait it out.
Speaking of which - RDR also makes it a lot easier to tell if you're getting shot. I can't tell you how many times I've been in a firefight in GTA and had no idea I was getting peppered until I was finally killed; here, the screen turns red. It's maybe not as tactile as some force feedback in the controller, but it's at least an indication that you should maybe get out of the way.
At some point this week I'm forcing myself to pull away from the single-player in order to try out the online stuff; I need to get a posse together.
Also, at some point this week, I've got to try Alan Wake, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Split/Second, and the new Prince of Persia. When it rains, it fucking RAINS.