I gotta say, I am darned impressed with the horse-and-rider animations in Red Dead Redemption. Also, the writing and the voice acting - it's simply spot on for pretty much any western I have ever seen. Alas, I still suck at anything harder that 'casual' and even on 'casual' hostages have this tendency to die while I am still trying to figure out how I am supposed to shoot the ones holding them. But I am getting better.
I heard (on a Bethesda Podcast, in fact) that it takes about 4 hours to figure out how to play the game and another 4 hours to get any good at it, but it's completely worth that time. It's taking me a bit longer (not shocking at all) but I have to say I agree with the statement.