I’ve heard from a game viewer once (possibly Zero Punctuation’s Ben “Yahtee” Croshaw, however I could be mistaken) that the hardest game to review is the ‘meh’ games, because while it’s easy to talk about a great game or bad game in detail, it’s hard to pin point what exactly is great in the said meh game.
Now the reason why I wanted to mention this is because of Deep Silver and Eutechnyx latest game Ride to Hell: Retribution, a game based on the biker gang genre of movies like Easy Rider and more recently, Hell Ride. To this point I would like to extend a thanks to the developers of this for making my job so easy.
Ride to Hell takes place shortly after the Vietnam war, you play Jake, a veteran coming back home to his uncle and his brother. Things have changed in your quite desert town and not for the better. After your brother runs away from home, he is killed by a gang called the Devil’s Hand for wearing their father’s old bikers jacket. Jake snaps and goes on a quest for revenge finding the members of the gang and killing them off one by one.
The basic revenge story that follows the game is covered in plot holes and bad story telling, not that the genre did any better but at least the movies were entertaining. The story is long, drawn out, and is poorly paced by loading screens after every cutscene, which in some cases occur multiple times if a cutscene cuts to a different location.
This could be excusable if it wasn’t for one fact, the gameplay is horrendous. Lets start out of the good first and work our way down. In the opening cutscene you get a turret to soot at multiple bad guys coming through a choke point, the turret itself takes up 3/4 of the screen when aiming and sprays everywhere when your not, there is alot of slow-mo shots when you blow up a gas tank or when you shoot baddies in the head which does provide some satisfaction for the frustration.
Next up is the Biking. This is a huge part of the game being a Biker Gang game and all, you are confined to a strip of road avoiding objects and fighting other people off of their bikes while jumping over gaps and powersliding under transports, this works well for the game until we get to the actual combat on the bikes which confines it to quick time events. Surviving the quick time events, which really are just massive button mashing moments, you are awarded with throwing your enemy off of the bike he was riding, by not actually touching him… The game has a huge clipping problem where you tend to reach out into the air and twist your opponents neck. Normally I’d throw this into a glitch and not worry, however it happens EVERY DAMN TIME!
Finally we have the showstopper, the hand to hand brawling which the game makes such a big deal over. You have the ability to block attacks using triangle/Y, preform quick attacks using X/A or using heavy strikes or block breakers by pressing square/X. This sounds like the basic fighting mechanics from most games but here is the major problem, every fight can be won by just repeatedly pressing the quick attack button, in which Jake will preform a quick boxing combo that shows a lot more blood then the animation that follows should do, after which you can decided if you want to kill them with quick strikes or press block to preform a kill move which isn’t very impressive to begin with. All attacks seem to automatically lock on to your opponent which gives the additional feeling of the game having no challenge. Combat also includes the dreaded quick-time events during boss battles which are lacklustre, if you screw up your button press you have time to hit the button back and there is no fail animation for this as well.
There is a side mission in the levels where you rescue a prostitute from being taken advantage of, which if you do you are rewarded with a sex scene, complete with full motion humping and everything, yet the characters are fully dressed. Now normally, I would not have a problem with this, I don’t feel like it’s out of place considering the genre they were copying, but considering I was torturing myself playing this chore of a game, a bit of gratification would have been nice.
On the plus side though, the game’s graphics look good… For the PS2 era. Simple things like weak animations, next to no facial expressions, bad texturing, and horrible rendering distance plague this game. While I say this in no offence to my old classmates in Game Design back in college, but it looked like our lowest skilled person could have made this game in their sleep and possibly better. The game’s audio is just as awful as the gameplay, characters talk with no emotion, there is no additional sounds and the sounds of people getting hit sounds the same even if you pick up weapons.
Ride to Hell: Retribution is in general the worst game I’ve played in a very long time and by far the worst game of the year, it felt like it was insulting my intelligence along with the intelligence of everyone else in the room with me. I would rather play Shaq Fu, The Walking Dead Survival Instinct, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Mindjack back to back while pulling the scene from A Clockwork Orange where they were keeping his eyes from blinking then play through this again. Honestly this game makes those look like game of the year material.