Thursday, 11 July 2013

Ride to Hell: Retribution review

There aren't many games that focus on the biker gang. We had the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion "The Lost and the Damned", but that's the only one that comes to mind, and that was not even a full game. Well, Eutechnyx have come to remedy that, with the release of their title, Ride to Hell: Retribution. It's a mix of linear bike riding, bike combat, shooting and fighting and there's a tiny home level, where you can stock up on ammo and customise your bike. Is it better than the amazing GTA IV expansion? Well, it may be one of the worst games to have ever been released. Read on to find out the reasons why.

The game starts with Jake, a Vietnam veteran, riding a chopper down a dusty desert road. The year is 1969, and Jake has just returned to the country. It's not long before things take a turn for the worse, and a rival biker gang called "The Devil's Hand" slashes his little brother's throat. This sets up the tone for the game, and you'll spend the next few hours taking revenge on each of the gang members involved. The gameplay is split into a few different sections. You'll spend most of the time on foot, making your way through linear levels, shooting and fighting groups of enemies. There are a few different variations of each weapon type; shotguns, rifles, and pistols. It doesn't really matter which you use really, as the AI only half gets into cover. When they aren't in cover, they're not great at aiming, so a lot of the time you can stand in the open, lining up headshots. It shouldn't be this easy, and the lack of a challenge really takes away from the already shoddy experience. The combat is also quite repetitive, and usually consists of hammering both X and A in a random order. There is a finishing move for each melee weapon, but they're all very similar and are completed with a quick-time event, which never changes. It's always press a button, hammer a button, press a button. QTEs are kind of pointless if you know what's coming next. There are also some special environmental moves at specific points in each level, which are cool for the first time but you soon realise that it's the exact same animation almost every time. It's another example of laziness from the developers, who apparently didn't care about this game enough to at least try to make it look like some effort went into polishing it.

There are superb customisation options for the bikes

The bike sections you would expect to be good, as it's a game about bikers, but the handling is awful. The bike's slip around the track with barely any grip. It's not even like there's anything to look at during the ride, it's just a desert or forest, and the graphics won't do much for you. You can't even crash, which is just unforgivable in this day and age. Hit a wall hard enough and the screen simply fades to black (with Jake still sat on the upright bike) and places you a few meters back. It's hard to see why they would leave out such a feature when the technology to allow for fantastic, detailed damage has been around for years. There are some points where you can take part in melee combat whilst on bikes, but that suffers the same problem as the on-foot fighting. Predictable QTEs. The bike fighting literally never changes, and there are no dynamic encounters. All the enemies that you face whilst on a bike are scripted, so it almost feels like you can't lose. It's just another disappointment in an ever expanding list. At the home base level, you can do a number of things to prepare your character for each mission. There is an army truck from which you can buy weapons, ammo and fighting upgrades, so you can spruce up the boring combat a little. You can also fully customise your bike with a huge variety of different parts, paint jobs and decals, or you can pick another bike altogether. This is literally the only thing that RtH: Retribution does well, it's just a shame that the whole game doesn't share the level of detail and depth that is apparent in the customisation. That's all there is to do in this hub, and it'll get to a point where you won't even bother using it.

The story for Ride to Hell: Retribution is a very basic revenge tale. There is no complexity to it at all, it's a simple case of hunting down each member of a gang to take revenge on them for killing your brother. The script is awful, none of the characters are likeable and it's actually quite sexist. The first time you encounter this is in the middle of a mission. There is an optional objective to save a lady who is being attacked by a drunk guy. Obviously, you'll want to be the hero so you beat the drunkard up, and your reward? You get to have some weird fully-clothed sex with the lady. This happens countless times, and it gives you the impression that Jake is a sexist, sex-crazed pig. It's hard to feel sympathy for such a despicable character. 

The character models are very dated and blocky

Graphically, it looks like an HD port of an old PS2 game, with low quality textures, oddly proportioned character models and dull scenery. It really is unforgivable to release a game, four months before a new generation of consoles, that looks like this. If this game was instead released on the Xbox Live Marketplace, for a fraction of the price that it costs now, you would still be disappointed with the visuals. A game hasn't looked this poor since the early days of the Xbox 360. It doesn't do any better in the sound department either. The soundtrack plays one of a few generic rock tracks, the voice-over work is unarguably substandard, and for a lot of actions in the game, there are no sound effects. It's unsettling to see a character pick something up, knock something over or reload a gun, for no sound effects to play. In a few of the cut-scenes, there are often times with characters moving around, in a way that would definitely create noise, but it is completely silent. It's just another area that Eutechnyx have put completely no work into.

There is nothing positive to say about Ride to Hell: Retribution. The gameplay is incomparably bad, it's visuals look ten years old, the story is basically non-existent, the character is unbelievably dull and unconvincing, and the random sex scenes that have been thrown in serve no purpose. It's not satire or parody, so it's hard to see what they were shooting for with those bits. It really is a shame, as there are some pretty cool ideas that could have been awesome, but instead, it fails terribly at every single one of them (excluding the bike customisation). Ride to Hell: Retribution may well be the worst title available on current consoles. 


by Louis Gardner

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