|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Dev: Deep Silver, Eutechnyx|
|Pub: Deep Silver|
|Release: June 25, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and Gore, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Ride to Hell: Retribution…uuuugh. Even the name sounds like some sort of generic biker schlock that would be better marketed as a Nicolas Cage movie. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against biker culture. In fact, a game that accurately recreates the feeling of being a badass road warrior would be awesome. But nothing about Ride to Hell: Retribution feels badass. Instead, it feels sloppy, as if a generic action game was thrown in a blender with a Harley Davidson in the hopes that whatever slop came out would somehow be playable. Originally pegged for release in 2009, the Ride to Hell series has been delayed and canceled numerous times, and it should have stayed that way.
When the game first opens, it’s not so bad. It actually puts you right into the action, firing upon enemies with a turret and beating the crap about of opponents, quick-time-event style. These short spurts of gameplay are intercut with a few cutscenes showing off your main character, Jake Conway, screaming down the road on his motorcycle. The whole sequence ends with you pulling off an incredible jump over a helicopter, with a freeze-frame shot holding on you in mid-air. Awesome! Of course, then the game begins, and you realize that the helicopter was actually just a shark in disguise.
As the game begins, the first thing you will notice is the incredibly jarring graphics. Characters move stiffly and inhumanly, almost as if everyone is being controlled by marionette strings. Characters’ faces are expressionless, with dead eyes looking forward into an endless eternity and mouths that flap in a robotic motion, starting and stopping in an almost mechanical fashion. Characters’ hair looks like they’re a solid piece of plastic, giving everyone a strange creepy-doll feel. Even by 2009 standards these graphics would be tough to look at.
The sound design isn’t much better. While the soundtrack is a predictably awesome combination of hard rock and other driving tunes, everything else is lacking. The opening fistfight uses canned impact sound effects here and there, and that’s it. There are no whiffs when a blow passes over an enemy’s head and no sounds of boots scraping across the ground. It feels like the whole thing is being performed in a sort of silent vacuum. The same thing holds true for the rest of the game, whether gameplay or cutscene. It feels like certain sound effects are just missing, dropped from the soundtrack completely for no good reason or omitted due to lack of time and effort.
The voice work is…passable at best. The main character, Jake, actually has a believable enough voice. You really do believe that he is a rough biker with nothing to lose, perhaps scaled back a bit for realism’s sake. However, everyone else’s voice acting is a disaster. Line delivery feels as stiff as the movement in this game. The dialogue isn’t the best, but it’s certainly better than the actors give it credit for. It kind of feels like we have traveled back to the days of the PS1, when the only voice actors available were the interns working at the game development studio.
The story is stereotypical, but it has an over-the-top charm to it. Jake Conway has returned from service in Vietnam a scarred and broken man. He comes back to the world of the 60s, a world unlike the one he left. His town has become violent; his family is alienated from him; biker culture has bloomed in full force. Then, all of the sudden, a biker gang ambushes him and kills his brother for vague and unexplained reasons. Now, it’s up to him to get revenge.
While the story itself could be charming, the way it is told is disjointed and sloppy at best. Conflicts break out for next to no reason and then lead to story missions that are, essentially, totally unrelated. Cutscenes that introduce these conflicts are cut short, sometimes even resolving the conflict off-screen!
Not only that, there is so much loading! Sometimes, you’ll sit through a cutscene, get to a loading screen, and then you’ll watch another custscene, followed by another loading screen! Sometimes, you’ll participate in a mission in which you clearly succeed in evading the bad guys, and then after a loading screen, you’ll be cornered by a group of bikers, without any weapons or your bike. It’s like you just teleported to the next convenient part of the plot. The story feels like it was cut and pasted together with Windows Movie Maker. It’s incredibly disjointed and has no sense of pacing whatsoever.