Rockstars' latest offering to the sandbox genre, Red Dead Redemption was a huge hit, and more importantly it reinforced their status as number 1. After 23 hours I'm still nowhere near finishing the game but here are a couple of strong points they you can see even prior to finishing the game:
1) John Marston - the first "killer with a conscience." From Claude to Niko Bellic, Rockstar has centered their games around characters who are forced to break the law, although the player can do so with consequence. The two most loved GTA leading characters, are Carl "CJ" Johnson & Niko Belic. But, John Marston, is a retired outlaw, during the most lawless time in American history, wanting to limit the bloodshed, and do little to nothing beyond whatever the current mission. [Niko was a close second to him]
2) They can create a living world, despite whatever limits of size there are - The no.2 complaint of any GTA title is how small the world is, and how each area looks the same save if a faction is hostile towards you. In Redemption, the distances between cities are massive with surprises in between. Also the wildlife varies in number and aggression levels giving each area a unique feel.
The fact that they took so much time and effort is nothing short of amazing and I can't wait to see how this ends.
--From the Iphone