Ride to Hell: Retribution Review for Xbox 360

Ride to Hell: Retribution Review for Xbox 360

This Game is Hell

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 aboutRide 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.

Ride to Hell: Retribution Screenshot

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.

Ride to Hell: Retribution Screenshot

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.

Ride to Hell: Retribution Screenshot

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.

The gameplay of Ride to Hell: Retribution is the final nail in the coffin. Though the missions you are put on are badass, none of them actually feel fun. Driving a motorcycle is boring; the bike moves along at a slow pace through environments that are filled with the same textures and obstacles looping over themselves. Sometimes the game makes you fight off other bikers, which should be cool considering that you punch and kick them so hard that they explode into spurts of blood while their bike skids off the road and similarly explode into a column of flame; however, the controls are shallow, the enemies never feel like a threat, and the attack and kill animations get incredibly repetitive.

Ride to Hell: Retribution Screenshot

The bike doesn’t handle well at all. It controls too loosely, veering off left and right at even the slightest control input. Once again, it doesn’t feel like you are driving a motorcycle, but rather a poorly programmed facsimile of one. It’s a good thing most of the biking segments are just straight lines. Unfortunately, you’ll find yourself repeatedly forced to drive these boring straight lines just to get to the next part of the game.

Off-bike combat is even worse. The animations in this game get even stiffer during a fistfight. The collision detection is horrendous, and when you are attacking, you slide around the map as if you were on ice skates! There’s a shallow system where you have to break enemy defenses with different kinds of attacks, but really, it’s another button-mashy mess. It also suffers from the same repetitive animations and death sequences the bike fights do. You eventually get a variety of different weapons to use in the game, but none of them actually feel like upgrades. They just change your animation to something else equally stiff and boring. You also get guns, but there is no real in-depth shooting system here either. It’s just a system of pulling the trigger at the other guy. Oh, and just to make the game feel extra sloppy, enemy models are reused so frequently, you’ll sometimes fight hordes of the same guy, on or off bikes!

Ride to Hell: Retribution is filled with so many flaws it’s painful. I’m a fan of Deep Silver’s work, but this is far below their caliber. The game feels more than a generation old, and it suffers from low production value, poor controls, and completely screwed up pacing. I will freely admit I did not finish Ride to Hell: Retribution. It was not worth it. Deep Silver, you guys published Metro: Last Night. You are better than this.

The graphics feel like they are more than a generation old. 2.1 Control
The combat is button-mashy, and riding a bike isn’t fun at all. 2.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is great, but the sound effects feel unfinished and choppy. 1.5 Play Value
I just flat out couldn’t finish this game, and you won’t either. 2.0 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • High-speed motorcycles that do stunts as well as compete in races and fights.
  • Brutal 3rd-person-brawler combat with rage attacks and environmental kills.
  • Full motorcycle customization.
  • Colorful cast of outlaw characters with a 60s-reminiscent soundtrack.
  • Over-the-top comic-style experience; unlockables and collectables; interconnectivity in the RTH universe.

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