Developed by Rockstar Game -- the same studio behind marquee franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Max Payne -- the original Red Dead Redemption was an open-world Western set in 1911 that cast you as John Marston, a complex and conflicted former outlaw forced to hunt down his old crew after the government takes his wife and son hostage.
The game was developed using the same engine as Grand Theft Auto 4, and it borrowed the same basic story-driven mission structure of that franchise. As you gallop your way through the gorgeous open world, you encounter a wide cast of memorable characters, many of whom enlist you on tasks and missions that help move the plot forward. Along the way, you're free to explore, hunt wildlife, trade with the locals, visit the saloon for a quick game of Liar's Dice and countless other open-world opportunities.
The game was notable for the vast landscapes and breathtaking vistas of its map, which takes you through a surprisingly diverse mix of Western-influenced settings -- everything from dusty ghost towns and Mexican mesas to serene prairies and snowy mountain trails populated with lumbering grizzlies. This writer has many fond memories of evenings spent exploring the terrain on a trusty steed, often chasing a blazing sunset over the horizon on my way to the next story mission. It was Westworld sans the dystopic existentialism (more shotguns, fewer shoguns).
Also notable: The game's freshly refined shooting mechanics, which represented a significant step forward from what Rockstar fans were used to in the Grand Theft Auto franchise at that point. Gamers still enjoy that Red Dead approach to gunslinging today, as Rockstar incorporated much of it into future hits like Grand Theft Auto 5.