Saturday, 6 July 2013

Ride To Hell: Retribution (Video Game Review)

Once in a while there are titles people will call the worst video games ever made. Those which had high hype which failed to deliver, those which were obviously rushed and lacked development, or just those which lacked any real talent behind them.

In recent years we've had a slew of these from bare basics shooters seemingly squirted out overnight like Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines to the mesmerisingly badly written and poorly programmed turds like Mindjack. Special mention also goes to Steel Battalion: Heavy Armour, a good game hamstrung to the point of unplayability by Kinect. Ride To Hell: Retribution is the latest in this long line, but it's quite possibly the worst of them all. It has Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing degrees of bad ideas, bugs, shoddy programming and sheer laziness; and might be the first to honestly be worse than that game.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here, we've just begun the descent into hell.

Normally these reviews would begin outlining the story and giving context to the game itself, but instead here's how the game introduces you to its plot, beat for beat:

After starting a new game, the first sign of it being poorly constructed no less - immediately reacting as if you already have a save file, you're introduced to the hero. Who is he? What are his goals? What's his name? By this point you have no clue, only that he is driving a Harley to very generic "badass" music and has legs due to the low camera shots. You will learn little beyond this during this opening, or the game as a whole.

At exactly the ten second mark this cut-scene suddenly ends and the game jump cuts into a turret section. For some reason the guy is now up in a tower shooting at guys with a very stiff, very awkwardly moving flack cannon. This is given neither context nor any reason to exist, it just suddenly interrupts the opening cutscene. The only reason it'll stay in your mind for the following hours is due to the blood seeping from your years, a result of the obscenely loud gunfire.

Jump cut and suddenly Generic Biker Protagonist 317 is back to riding again in a cutscene, this time showing us the fact his face is made of granite and shares Commander Shepard's immovable rock solid hair. At the seven second mark this ends.

Suddenly the guy is in the middle of a quicktime event fistfight against... I honestly don't know who. Presumably some member of a rival gang. After pressing keys to QTEs you'd be lucky to fail in your sleep, causing the man's crotch to bleed, we jump cut again.

Generic Biker Protagonist 317 is suddenly standing over a man with covered in bright red paint who the subtitles helpfully tell us is named Colt. Lacking the first names "Rex" and "Power" he's not nearly as fun or awesome as someone with that surname deserves to be. He starts to mock the main character, helpfully delivering exposition as he does, before he kills Colt with pop guns bargain bin sound effects and revolvers. This serves as our introduction to three things: One of the main villains, the dire voice acting and that everyone has the expressive range of Keanu Reeves. Yes, our introduction to the hero and big villain is seeing the former helplessly gunning down the latter.

Jump cut again. Suddenly 317 (okay, we later learn his name is Jake) has gone from riding along a main road to the middle of some woods somewhere. Out of nowhere a helicopter rises in front of him from a canyon and he jumps over it, freezeframe and the game informs he us we are in fact playing Ride to Hell: Retribution 1%.

Then the game actually starts with Jake being discharged from a military base ten days easier, with no mention of what we'd previously seen.

We're less than a minute in and we've seen bad graphics, bad mechanics, terrible sound effects, no context to anything and the villain die. Add in some bad driving controls, sequences breaking every law of physics and most unappealing sex-scenes ever rendered and you'd have the game in a nutshell.

The thing is, you can sort of half see why this was done once you're a good half an hour into the game. Retribution tries to go for a very grindhouse feel with its atmosphere and overall style, going with a stylised, semi-gritty environments. Think the sort of thing you'd see with Machete, Hobo With A Shotgun or Planet Terror.
It's a nonsense schizophrenic introduction which would be right at home with this theme were it not for one problem - The people at Eutechnyx simply weren't skill enough to work with it or deliver upon anything they had planned. It takes a very special talent to truly utilise any overarching theme as overt as this in a video game, a task made no easier considering Eutechnyx struggles to even get basic storytelling right.

Even as a borderline excuse to set up Jake with multiple bosses and murder people by the hundreds Retribution suffers from bad pacing, establishing context to events and even just introducing things. The game quite literally cuts from Jake being gunned down by the big bad and left for dead to being perfectly fine and going out to get his revenge. At another time you suddenly gain a B.A.R. rifle out of absolutely nowhere just prior to a boss battle, presumably in an attempt to force a turret segment to break up the monotony of the levels. Yeah, you know a game is bad when a turret section is a welcome change.

Said levels are segmented into two categories: Motorcycle battles and those on foot, and it's honestly hard to tell which is the worse of the two. 

The levels where you're on a bike consist of confusing controls, bad handling and generally feel like the fighter sections of The Old Republic if they had been made with everyone in Bioware was on acid. Clunkily veering about you're on rails throughout the entire thing, unable to turn around or move in any direction but forwards. Also going by the sound design, every motorcycle is driven by a lawnmower engine.

Once in a while enemy gangers will come at you from the left and right, at which point the hilarity begins. With some of the worst hit detection imaginable, half the time you reach over to stab people or punch them results in you apparently tapping into the Force and telekinetically beating them without actually touching your foe. Best among these are when you go for breaking a man's neck. Primarily because it involves you making a gesture in the air and having the person next to you jerk about in the air then fall dead. Also because sometimes Jake feels the need to stab the guy whose neck he just broke to finish off the animation.

When you're on foot, you do have more freedom to move about but the enemies are somehow worse. Melee fighters will continually beat out the same patterns over and over again, punching repeatedly then suddenly blocking for no reason. Even if you're nowhere near them or not ready to attack in any way. They feel less like they're been programmed and more like they're expected to react with a simple series of actions, turning assaulting someone with a wrench into an act of tedium. Even the half baked attempts to ape Arkham Asylum's combat system with counters and blocks against the armies of clones around you do nothing to spice up fighting, just showing more flaws in what was an already problematic game.

Things only get worse once the enemies are given guns and you're expected to shoot it out with them. Even ignoring the artificial attempts to lengthen fighting by including man shaped slabs of meat with bulletproof hockey masks, blasting away feels like you're trying to fire from the hip with a sniper rifle. Somehow the mouse manages to be overly sensitive when it least needs to be and sluggish when you need to turn to pick off someone else, causing you to endlessly waste shots no matter your skill.

Making headshots turns into a chore and only slows down the combat as for some reason the world turns into slow motion to show of the badly textured gore spewing out of people's heads. That's if you can pick them off. Dead Space turned dismembering people into a bloody art form with careful precision and easy controls. Ride To Hell: Retribution manages to make you feel like you're lumbering about with bricks tied to each arm and are trying to hit a bullseye several miles away.

All this is the game at the best of times when it's working. As a result of being bugged up the arse and having a raging hatred for the laws of physics, it flips out and turns the game into an unplayable mess. The aforementioned section with the B.A.R. can easily result in failure due to the camera suddenly believing it's caught in a whirlwind and others just freeze up due to cutscenes. The game unable to differentiate between what you were doing before then and what you're supposed to be doing now. Try powersliding your bike and not only will you frequently find yourself levitating off of the ground but capable of pulling off doing so for several miles at a time, no matter your previous speed.

Then there's the gameplay to story segregation to consider, or the lack of it. One time you're caught by an enemy biker gang becomes physically impossible when you outstrip them in the sequence they're chasing you, leaving them in the dust. At another point where you're asked to non-lethally take down others the brutal melees which follow result in snapping bones and leaving people in pools of blood. This is ignored every time, even when the person congratulating you over your victory is standing over the corpse of her husband. 

Which brings us onto the porn scenes.

These are what Ride To Hell: Retribution is rapidly becoming infamous for and with good reason. Even had the dev team managed to get everything else right but left these in, it would deserve every snarky, scathing comment it got. Not only are they thirty second clips of Jake with a woman which have little context, badly shot and badly rendered, they also had to keep a few things to keep that 16 rating. Yep, the people humping one another do so while fully clothed, leading to increasingly hilarious sequences with people wearing everything from hot-pants to boiler suits. Eutechnyx seemed genuinely proud of these as well, as not only are they utilised as rewards but seem to appear every twenty to thirty minutes. Within the first hour you'll likely have encountered two sequences, one of which is scripted into the game. Anyone hacked off about Deadpool's treatment of women is likely going to blow their top upon seeing this. At least Deadpool made it clear he was a psychopath, slob and despicable person; here there's no kind of defence or excuse against the misogyny on display here.

This game manages to defy judgement. It's horrendous, badly programmed, badly thought out and with a plot ludicrously jumping from sequence to sequence; but there's something hilarious which keeps coming up making you want to stick with it. It's definitely not a "so bad it's good" title, there is no good to be found here, but there are so many bad developments, acts if poor judgement and baffling decisions you just want to see what the hell happens next.

Definitely don't buy it in its current state, it's not worth the money. Instead find a Let's Play or wait until it's going tenth of the price, take a look and just wonder what the hell the creative team were thinking.


  1. I can't see what everyone is talking about, I'm playing it now, and it's genuinely fun. The gunplay is actually good, it feels weighty, and the game never feels monotonous as it quickly changes from long range shooting, to on rails bike fighting, to short range shooting, to melee fights, to on rails machine gun, etc, etc.. And the story isn't all that bad, the plot is just an uninspired tale of revenge, similar to Fallout New Vegas, but the game has good writing, for example Colt saying: "Ah, brother comes back from the dead, looking for revenge, it's a classic, I do so love classics".
    My only problem is how extremely buggy it is, especially when loading a checkpoint, but all games are buggy on release, the only difference is this game was never patched because of the poor sales. Again, I refer to New Vegas, which was even more buggy then this game, but everyone gave it a free pass...
    As for the porn scenes, yes they're awkward and poorly done with full clothes (I just imagined Jake was in a hurry and sufficed with opening his zipper), but I didn't care about them. Am I forced to say this is the worst game ever made simply to show what a mature adult I am? Should these scenes make me appalled and disgusted or else I'm a <...>? Do you realize that people panning the game for these scenes are themselves just insecure about what insults they'd receive to their social standing if they didn't bash this game?

  2. People say that the gameplay is uninspired and lacks fun. Fun it is... If you don't take it seriously. People say that ithe game feels very cheap and rushed. Hell yeah! That's the fun part about this game. It is like a very, very cheap bad movie. There is a lot of objectification of women. So called sex scenes are just ridiculous. Deep Silver took a concious risk to release this game. Certainly this game doesn't please you all. It's like the game called Postal... This is a game that is just entertaining and fun to laugh at like most bad movies. If you keep that in mind you may have fun with this game!