I won’t even make you wait — it’s Red Dead Redemption 2.  It is a monumental achievement in home entertainment.  It’s magnificent just to look at.  It’s incredible to play.  It will make history.

Feel free to take a virtual ride through the enormous open world of RDR2 in this video — it really helps set the mood:

OK, so yes, I’m letting my inner “nerd” shine today in reviewing the latest and greatest from Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive.  It’s also the latest and greatest in the history of an industry that is taking over the entire entertainment world (more on that in a moment).

As usual, I always like to establish some measure of credibility, so it’s worth mentioning that I’ve loved and played games (board games, tabletop miniatures games, card games, video games) all my life.  It’s actually kind of a “Banks thing”, if you asked other members of my immediate and extended families, they would confirm it.

Naturally, I should put a list of video games together here in order to further bolster my credibility on this topic, so I’m doing that below.  If you simply trust me, feel free to skip this part.

GAMES (not even close to all of them):

Super Mario Bros., Contra, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, Midway 1942, Sonic The Hedgehog, Madden NFL (all of them), Metal Gear Solid, Gears of War, Final Fantasy (several of them), Call of Duty, God of War, Tomb Raider, Myst, Eve Online, Civilization (3 through 6), Sim City, The Sims, Grand Theft Auto (3 and 4), Saints Row, L.A. Noire, Red Dead Revolver….

I can definitively say, Red Dead Redemption 2 is the greatest, the grandest, the most immersive and incredible experience I have ever had playing a video game.

To describe the sheer magnitude of RDR 2 — I think of the hit HBO series “Westworld” — and then I just apply that concept to a video game.

In this game, you are plopped into the middle of a gigantic open world that’s alive with activity and endless possibilities.  You can do virtually anything.  There is no end to the areas of the game world you can explore and there is a virtually endless list of reasons to explore them.

Of course, the primary motivation for your journey, is the game’s main, scripted story.  Here’s a glimpse at the first 20 minutes inside that story.

As with any open world game, there is the usual dump-truck load of interesting side missions, random encounters, in-game challenges and achievements; so-called “Easter eggs” throughout the game world, but with RDR2 — it’s taken to another level.  It’s more like a warehouse load of all that stuff……

The various computer-operated characters, by-standers, shop owners, beggars, theater performers, gang members, outlaws, gunslingers, saloon patrons, prostitutes, card players, etc scattered throughout the game world provide a true flavor of the time period.  They react to things the way people would actually have reacted to things.  And they all look incredible, going about their daily business as they would have in real life.

It is not complete realism, but it comes closer to portraying “life” in the turn-of-the 20th Century time period than anything I’ve ever seen.

Rockstar Games is not saying how much it cost them to make this monumental achievement of a game, but I know this; The credits, at the end of the game rolled for over 20 minutes!!  The game took over 7 years to make and required more than 1,000 people.  I also know the game’s principle actors worked on the project for over 5 years.

A couple of sources I researched show a total cost of more than $200 million to make the game.

….And that point transitions nicely into the next important point.  Video gaming is an incredibly under-appreciated industry here in the U.S.  People don’t seem to talk about it as much as they should.

Did you know that in 2014, revenue generated by video games more than doubled the revenue generated by movies?

That trend has continued ever since.  Video games have out-paced both TV and movies in the all-important revenue category.

In just 10 years, the video game business has exploded from a modest $11.7 billion in 2008 to nearly $138 billion in 2018.  Revenue generated by video games is expected to top $180 billion by 2021.

I see RDR2 creating all kinds of new money, not just for Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive, but for the video game industry as a whole.

It will also challenge everyone in the industry to come up with bigger, better games.  Right now, I wager there is absolutely nothing on the market which could hold a candle to RDR2.

Of course, the downside to all this (and the reason it isn’t talked about much), is the fact that such games can be incredibly addicting.  People lose entire days in these experiences.

I would suggest Red Dead Redemption 2 be used as a way to kill time when you have the luxury.  Stay away otherwise, or you will 100% get sucked in.