|Developer(s): Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar Games
Publisher(s): Rockstar Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Release date(s): May 18, 2010
Genre(s): Open world, third-person shooter, action-adventure, western
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer
In the year 1911, John Marston, a retired outlaw formerly of a gang led by Dutch van der Linde, is taken away from his wife Abigail and his son Jack by government agents. The agents tell Marston that he will be reunited with his family if he hunts down the remaining lead members of his former gang. Left with no choice, Marston travels to the territory of New Austin to capture or kill one of his old friends, Bill Williamson, who now runs his own gang of bandits out of Fort Mercer. Marston confronts Williamson, only to be shot and left for dead outside the fort. A rancher, Bonnie MacFarlane, finds him wounded, and brings him to a doctor to be treated.
After recovering from his wounds several days later, Marston begins repaying the MacFarlanes for their help in the form of several jobs around their ranch. At the same time, he recruits help for a plan to attack Fort Mercer. Along with U.S. Marshal Leigh Johnson of Armadillo and his men, con man Nigel West Dickens, grave robber Seth Briars and drunken arms dealer Irish, Marston uses a Trojan Horse strategy to breach the fort. Marston and the Marshalls breach the fort and massacre Williamson’s gang, only to find that Williamson had already fled to Mexico to seek help from Javier Escuella, another member of Marston’s old gang. Irish offers to take Marston into Mexico over the river border. Along the river, Irish and Marston encounter Mexican bandits. Marston and Irish take the bandits out, barely making it into the country.
In Mexico, Marston works with Mexican Army Colonel Agustin Allende and Captain Vincente de Santa, as well as the revolutionaries in the area led by Abraham Reyes. He also improves his gun skills under the tutelage of elder gunslinger and childhood inspiration Landon Ricketts. Allende promises to deliver Escuella and Williamson to Marston, but soon betrays him and has de Santa attempt to execute Marston for working with the revolutionaries and killing Allende’s men with Ricketts. After escaping execution, Marston sides with the rebels who help kill de Santa and successfully get Marston to Escuella. Following Escuella’s capture or death, Marston joins Reyes and his men for an assault on Allende’s villa, not only culminating in the deaths of Allende and Williamson, but also Marston’s rebel friend Luisa as well when she attempts to save Reyes. Reyes takes control of the surrounding Mexican counties, and vows to march onto the capital with his rebel army. Marston, meanwhile, returns to the city of Blackwater to meet with his government contact, Edgar Ross.
Much to his dismay, Ross will not let Marston return to his family until Dutch van der Linde, who has emerged from hiding, has been killed. While Dutch and his men wage war on the United States Army in the area, Marston has several run-ins with Dutch who manages to elude capture each time. Marston eventually joins Ross and a group of U.S. soldiers in an assault on Dutch’s hideout. Marston follows the outlaws to their base, and confronts Dutch on a cliff. Dutch ultimately chooses to commit suicide, falling off a cliff to his death. Before he dies, Dutch warns Marston that the government will always find another “monster” to justify their pay.
Marston is released from his deal with the government and returns to his family at his ranch. After some time spent getting the farm up and running again, Marston is forced to repel the army when Ross betrays him with a surprise attack. After Marston’s friend Uncle falls, Marston manages to get Abigail and Jack out safely but stays behind to hold back the soldiers. Despite a valiant last stand, Ross and the soldiers riddle Marston with bullets. Jack and Abigail return to the ranch after hearing the gunshots, finding John dead and the soldiers gone. John’s body is buried on a hill overlooking the ranch, his grave inscribed “Blessed are the Peacemakers”. The game then jumps three years ahead to 1914, where the fresh grave of Abigail rests next his. A man—the spitting image of Marston—is seen standing at the graves. It is revealed that it is John’s son Jack, hardened by the last years. Jack walks away from his parents’ grave and then becomes the playable character.
Jack searches the land for Edgar Ross, who has now retired by the lake and apparently earned medals for both John’s work and his death as an outlaw. After questioning Ross’s wife under the guise of a messenger, Jack learns that the retiree is enjoying the day out hunting. Eventually, he finds Ross dropping ducks at a riverbed. When Jack reveals his identity and intentions to Ross, the two get into a heated argument, with Ross claiming that John Marston killed himself with the life he lived. To resolve the dispute, the two have a duel, in which Jack guns down his father’s killer. Almost immediately after Ross’s death, Jack looks down at his gun in confusion; while he has avenged his father, he might have put the very future his father had died to give him in danger. Jack holsters his gun, pauses, and then walks back up the riverbed.
A newspaper summarizes the fate of John Marston’s companions. Marshal Leigh Johnson retired as sheriff of Armadillo, and then moved as far away as possible from the town. Abraham Reyes, though promising to lead Mexico into an age of freedom, was consumed by power and became a tyrant. Bonnie MacFarlane eventually married, but it is not said to whom, although several conversations heard throughout MacFarlane’s Ranch suggest she married her foreman, Amos. Irish shot himself dead in an outhouse in Thieves Landing when his gun discharged. Seth Briars eventually found the treasure he was looking for and became rich. Finally, Landon Rickets passed away quietly in his sleep.