Review: Ride to Hell: Retribution

Ride right past this disaster of a game

Editor’s Note: This review is based on a retail copy of the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

Ride to Hell, Review, Sac City GamerWhen Ride to Hell was first announced back in 2008, I was pretty excited. I thought it sounded like a great game. The art reminded me a lot of Vigilante 8, a game of which I was a very big fan.

Developed by Eutechnyx (the company behind Big Mutha Truckers, Street Racing Syndicate, and the newer NASCAR games) and Deep Silver Vienna, the original game would never see a release.

It was canceled a couple years after its announcement and Deep Silver Vienna was shut down in 2010. Still, the game remained on upcoming release lists for years.

According to Eutechnyx, after the original cancellation by Deep Silver Vienna, the game continued to be worked on, only it was completely changed from its original form. The story was rewritten, the animations and gameplay were changed and it lost its open world elements.

An April 2013 announcement by Deep Silver, who picked the game back up and brought it back from the grave yard, revealed that the game would now be released as three separate titles including. Ride to Hell: Retribution, a budget retail release for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC released on June 25, 2013. In addition,  A downloadable Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network game entitled, Ride to Hell: Route 666 is scheduled to be released as well as a mobile game called Ride to Hell; Beatdown.

However, the truth of the matter is that all three games should have stayed buried. In fact, the copies that were shipped should literally be buried in a deep, deep (silver) grave right next to those copies of E.T. for the Atari 2600.

Story

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThe story in this game is bland, generic and adds nothing new to the world. It’s not creative at all and really doesn’t make you feel like you’re a biker from the 1960’s. Also, there are way too many cutscenes and the poor transitions from cutscene to gameplay really kill the immersion. I think that there are actually more cutscenes than there are gameplay sequences.

According to Deep Silver’s website, “Ride to Hell is the hard-hitting over-the-top action game of 2013 that doesn’t hold back. Players take on the role of Jake Conway, a man hell-bent on bringing down a ruthless biker gang called The Devil’s Hand. Jake will use any means necessary to enact his revenge, weaponizing (?) his environment, getting up close and dirty with brutal melee combat, and engaging in high-speed shootouts on his custom hog.

It’s all about kicking ass in the name of revenge. Ride to Hell is a one-of-a-kind rock and roll brawler, set in the distinct 1960’s era of anarchy, with its mix of gritty, grounded reality and rebel sensibilities. No matter if it’s one sneering grunt or ten, the only thing that awaits them is broken bones. Players can utilize deadly intercept maneuvers, brutal counter-attacks, and bloody combos grabbing anything they can get their hands on to destroy the Devil’s Hand. They will be riding for their life, bringing chaos to the streets and employing devastating, cinematic Rage Attacks on foot and on bike. Ride to Hell hits hard and doesn’t look back.”

Gameplay

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellGameplay is probably the most important aspect of any game. Unfortunately the developers of this game don’t know that. I’ll start by saying that once you get to the gun play sections of the game, it starts to pick up a bit, but then the broken mechanics and frustrating camera angles pop back up and you realize this game is just as bad as it was for the parts leading up to the shootouts.

The worst part about the gameplay is definitely the camera. There are times during fight scenes where you can’t even see your character because a wall is in the way. The hand-to-hand combat is really broken. It’s supposed to be one button for kick, one for punch, one to block/reverse an attack (sort of like the Batman Arkham games) and another for a special attack once you’ve earned it.

The problem is that the AI rarely attacks you so the reversal move is pretty pointless. The punching is a more powerful attack but the enemies block way too much so you have to kick them to break up the block (like that makes sense, kicking them in the lower body to break a block they are doing with their upper body), but I quickly realized I could just spam the kick button to finish off the opponent. I literally took out hoards of enemies just by tapping the kick button repeatedly.

Going back to gun play, the guns feel pretty good. The game features a regenerative health system but it can be hard to tell where your health level is because unlike games like Uncharted or Gears of War, it doesn’t make it clear how damaged you are; it’s just far too subtle.

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellHead shots are the best way to take out enemies in this game because despite only being outfitted in biker gear, shooting their bodies to kill them takes a lot of bullets (which are pretty limited) but again, this is another broken part of this game. Sometimes enemies went down with one blast to the face, other times I had to shoot them several times in the face to kill them. This is very unrealistic and is yet another way the game kills any bit of immersion you may have.

Red barrel explosions take out way too many enemies, opponents can be seen through walls, the AI stands up and down way too much when behind cover and though this adds challenge, it’s a very frustrating element of the bigger gun battles. Not to mention, the cover system for the player’s character is also broken. It literally doesn’t work. In addition, fighting enemies with hand-to-hand combat during shootouts stops others from shooting, which kills any challenge there may have been.

The “rage” finishing attack that your character does is pretty bad too. He does this groan sound before (I guess to strike fear into his enemies), but it sounds more like he’s sitting on the toilet while constipated. After that, the player is tasked with a series of button presses for which they are given far too much time. The last move in the sequence has Jake breaking his opponent’s neck but the sound of the neck breaking is so quiet and the animation is so bad, it’s just very anticlimactic for a finishing move.

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThe motorcycle riding sequences are also terrible. The camera zooms out all the time in this weird glitch of a camera effect, the powerslides under big rig trailers are laughable (and why do so many big rigs crash in this game?), and when bumping into hazards your bike pops to one side instead of taking any damage or really slowing the player down.

During the driving scenes, enemies on bikes ride up next to you and you press a random face button to knock them off their bike in a Road Rash wannabe mini-game, but the animations here look like a 3-year-old made them.

The bike riding segments were ridiculously drawn out. I couldn’t figure out why I was driving for such a long time. There is no map and no navigation system in this game whatsoever so why does Jake have to drive for such a long distance? There’s just no rhyme or reason. I guess the developers thought the driving was fun so they allowed players to really go at it for a long time! Or not.

Oh, and the highways are littered with boxes, trash, ramps and other such debris. It just makes no sense.

The one walking sequence I did was even bad. The protagonist is off to the left (more of the bad camera work) and he walks more stiffly than a dead body. It’s very hard to see where you are going and the game never informs you about how to roll or run faster. The game will also prompt you to head back to your bike to chase an enemy, but it gives you no indication where the bike is located. Besides, by the time you reach it, there is no possible way your enemy would still be in reachable distance.

One thing I did like though was that when switching from hand-to-hand combat to using your weapon, all the player has to do is press the aim button or press a face button (to go back to hand-to-hand) and the game seamlessly switches over. There’s no accessing a menu or pressing a button to holster your weapon. This is one of the only things I thought the game did right until I tried to use my gun while close to an enemy and the game wouldn’t let me because I was already engaging in hand-to-hand combat. I ended up dying and had to replay the entire sequence again. Wonderful.

There are a lot more issues with the gameplay, but I think you get the point by now. It’s bad. Really bad. Enough said.

Visuals/Graphics

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThis is yet another terrible aspect of this game. First off, let me say the menus are interesting in terms of setting a mood for the game. Too bad the game doesn’t uphold that mood. The pause menu is great. The pause menu actually features a list of trophies, complete with images and descriptions for each. There is a tutorial menu that is pretty well-done. The options are the basic stuff, but they are laid out in a easy-to-use setup that’s actually better than some big-budget games I’ve played.

Aside from this, the rest of the graphics, visuals and presentation of this game are completely and utterly laughable. To say it looks like a PS2 game ported to PS3 is a bit harsh, but the poor level of visual quality in this game is atrocious.

When a cutscene starts, it’s all too common to see blurry, flat, detail-lacking textures for a few seconds until the game catches up to itself and very slowly pops them up. In a few cases, the cutscene was over before all the textures loaded. When Jake saves a girl, he always has sexual intercourse with her. This is complete with cheesy pornography music and a cutscene depicting the act. The problem is that they are fully clothed! I also questioned why a man who is so worried about avenging his brother’s death is spending so much time having sex.

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThe characters’ necks look like they aren’t attached to their heads, sound effects and dialogue have a tendency to not work, backgrounds and environments are flat, lack polish and detail, and have an overall lazy look to them. character design is uninspired, the characters never actually look at each other when engaging in a conversation, and there are many spelling and grammar errors on the gameplay tips screens and in other places in the game.

Also, the frame rate and overall animations  are noticeably bad, I will say this though, they managed to keep the game from having any screen tearing, if that matters at this point.

Finally, the graphics and animations have many, many, many glitches and at times can make this game borderline unplayable. The game appears to still be in a very early stage such as Alpha. Why it was released is difficult to comprehend. It’s right up there with Sonic the Hedgehog (aka Sonic 06).

Sound

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThe sound effects for guns and vehicles aren’t that bad. However, the sound in every other aspect of the game is unbearable.

The game features the most generic music I’ve ever heard. Half the time the sound doesn’t even work and when it does, grabbing the remote and hitting the “mute” button can’t happen fast enough. I think I’ll have nightmares about that “rage” groan for the next couple of weeks.

The voice acting is very low quality. It’s difficult to hear what a lot of characters are saying, accents are cheesy, obviously not authentic and it sounds like everyone is reading directly from a script sheet that they are looking at for the first time. Let’s not forget that non-playable character dialogue is very repetitive and usually nonsensical.

Replayability

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellThere is none. I only played about 5% of the game before I decided I couldn’t stomach anymore of the mediocre gameplay, the vomit-inducing camera work or the Speak and Spell voice acting. I didn’t even want to finish the game, let alone would I ever want to play it again if I were to lose my mind and sit down to complete it.

The game does have a DLC pack available, there are in-game cards to collect and your character picks up money and drugs from fallen enemies, which I believe are used to buy weapons and other unlockables, but I honestly don’t think anyone cares.

Final Thought

Sac City Gamer, Ride to HellI certainly wouldn’t say it’s the worst game ever made (I’m looking at you, Superman 64 and Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing),but I think it’s safe to say it is one of the worst games of this generation. The gun combat sequences aren’t too bad and the game is definitely playable.

Honestly, as a $10 downloadable game, it wouldn’t have been as bad, but Deep Silver is trying to charge people upwards of $30 for this disaster of a game.

As I said before, why it was even released in this condition after all these years is beyond me. As I said in my introduction, like Superman 64 (another title that went through a questionable development cycle), this game should have stayed buried.

Ride to Hell: Retribution’s minimal polish, lack of quality control, terrible gameplay, unbearably bad camera angles, loads of glitches, graphical issues, horrible sound effects, laughable voice acting, generically boring storyline, and overall lack of fun and lasting appeal definitely make this game an easily forgettable title.

I recommend every gamer stay away from this game. Far, far away.

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