Marston’s past is intentionally shaded from view at the beginning, and gradually revealed to the player and cast of characters as the game progresses. Although this means that the story can seem distant at the beginning of the game, the gradual reveal makes the progressing narrative effortlessly engaging; in many ways, the player is set up to feel as much as a friend accompanying Marston as the person controlling him. Of course, this wouldn’t work if Marston fell into the same old Grand Theft Auto protagonist role- a character who is caught up in terrible events and despite seeming generally ‘good’, ends up committing completely heinous acts.
Rockstar have really outdone themselves this time, however; John Marston is clearly a well-meaning character (he notes that even as a bandit, he adopted somewhat of a ‘Robin Hood’ type role), and all of his actions reflect this. His bandit past, he says, is behind him- but he has been caught up in a series of events that are out of his control. He is driven by more than just basic desires, and as a player I felt a lot of sympathy for his plight. I did have a couple of problems with the plot at the end of the game, but at the risk of giving it away, I’ll just say that it was not simply a “let down” at the end- it was more a case of the story working against itself.
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