Ride to Hell: Retribution
Motorcycle gangs have been around since the end of World War II, and have been reflected in popular culture since Marlon Brando’s iconic performance in The Wild One. Fast forward to today, and biker shows such as the popular Sons of Anarchy and Outlaw Bikers are gaining legions of fans, proving that motorcycle clubs are just as popular as ever. So why hasn’t anyone tried to make a video game based on bike culture until now? Well I have good news and bad news. The good news is that Eutechnyx and Deep Silver have announced three games in an ambitious new franchise called ‘Ride to Hell’, the bad news is that the first iteration in the series, ‘Ride to Hell: Retribution’ is awful, in almost every sense. Hold onto to your handlebars, because this is one bumpy ride, with no rewarding experience for the player.
You can quite often guess the quality of a game by the enthusiasm of its publisher and developer to publicize it. Ride to Hell was one of those games that had a ton of marketing at its announcement, but as the time drew closer to its release date, did not even receive a whisper from its publisher. Retribution casts players as Jake Conway, a recently released convict (who resembles Guitar Hero mutant Axel) who followed in the footsteps of his father, and became an outlaw biker. No sooner is Jake is released from prison than his *SPOILER ALERT (but you really shouldn’t play this game)* brother is murdered right in front of him. What really irks me about the lazy presentation of the story is how quickly and haphazardly the single most important story event is delivered. Instead of showing the emotional agony that the character must be feeling (which I guess Eutechnyx considered wasn’t “badass” enough), the story is then delivered through dialogue between characters that plays whilst a cut-scene of Jake mounting his bike is shown. This is the reason for Jake’s journey for revenge in the first place, yet it is only given three or four lines of dialogue. Eutechnyx did however take the time to show Jake have intercourse with every woman he comes across in the fifteen minutes of the game (which is a surprising amount). It may have been enjoyable in an early 70’s exploitation flick kind of way had the sex scenes had more context, or even if the characters took their clothes off. Yes, you are made to sit through sex scenes where characters keep their jeans, jackets and overalls on and pull excruciatingly ugly “O” faces. I’d pull that face too if I was dry humping leather against denim.
The woeful experience of playing Ride to Hell doesn’t end with the story; after all, some games are all-action and no story, right? First off, the characters all look like Guitar Hero rejects, and even Guitar Hero’s characters were almost offensive to look at. That being said, Guitar Hero was a music game, and this is an action game solely inhabited by disproportionate mutants. People’s hands are the size of their heads and while that sounds like it could make for a fun game if the action had some comedy in it (like the highly underrated PS2 game, ‘Total Overdose’) Ride to Hell takes itself way too seriously for the characters to have the proportions they do.
From boring to sloppy, there is hardly ever a moment in Ride to Hell: Retribution that makes it worth playing. The game’s camera does not work well at all, and frequently gets stuck on scenery or people while trying to dramatically change angle during fights. Even in an outside environment, the camera awkwardly clips through characters to show you the inside of their heads and jaws at a crucial time when you are meant to be reading your enemies’ moves and counter-attacking. There are only a handful of animations for both Jake and his enemies, which means you will see the same hit reaction over and over again, until one of you surrenders the fight and finds something better to do. The shooting thankfully has no bugs that I found, but it did however; present me with way too many opportunities to shoot people in the head. Yes, there is a decent cover-shooting mechanic in Ride to Hell, but it hardly matters as enemies will try to hide behind walls the size of milk crates and then position their head directly into the line of fire. They might as well draw targets on their heads and hide behind each other.
What struck me early in the experience of playing Ride to Hell is that the developer (Eutechnyx) does not know what to prioritise or focus on when making a game. Some story events are given almost no attention when they are integral to the story’s progression, and at other times something completely unrelated to the story seems to go on forever. A pointless ride on the desert highways takes up to fifteen minutes to complete, but Jake is conveniently teleported without explanation between some of the game’s more important areas. It just feels like a wasted opportunity to include these pointless moments without a need to. Even a movie-style montage would have been welcome in place of the pointless riding-in-the-middle-of-nowhere segments. That way we could have skipped the long-winded travelling and explored the characters. I guess what it boils down to is that there is no point to playing Ride to Hell: Retribution. The story is almost non-existent, the characters are poorly written and acted, the music is awful, and the gameplay is broken. There are even times where this is no sound in the game where it clearly needs sound. Quite often, you will crash on your bike and there is no collision noise, and no interruption of your bike’s engine. It’s almost as though Ride to Hell was released as an unfinished product. If it was given another 6 months development time, Retribution could have been a fantastic game.
Ride to Hell had a great idea for a game that was truly sqaundered with the awful final product that was released. In a world with Grand Theft Auto, Saints Row and to a lesser extent Brutal Legend there are far more “badass” games that warrant taking your money. I wouldn’t write off Ride to Hell as a series completely, as no doubt things can only improve from here, but for now, this is one road trip you should definitely pass on.
- Lots of awkward sex scenes, if that’s your thing.
- Buggy, broken and boring gameplay
- Almost no story
Score – 2/10