Road Rage Review

Why is that all crap seems to ride on two wheels? Absolutely one of the worst games I have ever played was the Commodore 64 version of the arcade hit Enduro Racer. It was backed by a huge advertisement campaign but when the game came out, it was just a poor 3D road routine with a couple of blocky sprites slapped onto it. One of the worst games of the previous console generation involved bikes too: Ride to Hell: Retribution was so utterly bad throughout that it was almost hilarious. Road Rage carries proudly this lineage. Is it a shoddy cash-in to attract fans of EA’s old Road Rash series or just a bad joke?

The game throws the player straight into its supposedly open world campaign. The world as we know doesn’t exist anymore. Biker gangs control districts closed by the authorities after violent riots against the ruling class. Sutbroit is the worst city of them all. That’s where you start as a boring dude on a bike, carrying as much personality as a telephone pole. You get the assignments via a smart-phone (with a cracked screen, a nice touch, I must admit) and no matter how they’re described, they are always the same: a three-lap race, a race through checkpoints, smashing the other bikers or a stunt race. You might get congratulations for setting up bombs for a nicely handled assassination. What the hell? I was only racing through checkpoints!

Then you’ll realize there’s a biker clubhouse through the start menu. You don’t even have to ride there, so that’s cool too. New options for different riders are made available by progressing in the story missions so you don’t have to be a boring bloke anymore as there are pretty nicely modeled biker chicks too. Also, new bikes, upgrades for them, and weapons can be purchased. When you switch the character for the first available girl, you’ll encounter a rather bizarre situation in the mission briefing. You are actually talking to yourself as the quest giver happens to be the same character you’re playing. The voice acting is lazy, though one of the district bosses gives a pretty plausible big Arnie impersonation.

Dreary apathy is everywhere in the game. All four districts of the city (which is admittedly quite large and houses side missions to race through for extra cash) look the same. It’s drab and grey with only a few cars here and there, looking like they were ripped from other games, and some awkwardly animated pedestrians wobbling around. Then there’s the fog, the nuisance of the past console generations. It’s almost 2018, for Christ’s sake, and the game is running on Unreal 4 engine! I swear, it got only worse after a patch. Why is there fog enveloping the city in its endless, grey haze? Maybe to hide the utterly boring environments? What the developer couldn’t mask are how the cars are practically dropped onto roads from a thin air, as well as police vehicles appearing out of nowhere on deserted roads during escape missions.

The game goes into strange slow-motion when you decide to do a random act of violence and slap the pedestrian on the head with, say, a golf club or a chainsaw, which hangs from one hand while the other grabs the handle all the time. The biker is practically a stiff sitting on a bike, the only movement happening when the weapon is swung left or right. It makes no difference really, as actually hitting something feels random. The best way to get rid of other riders is to ram them and hope for the best. I’m surprised there’s no rubber band AI. The opponents drive aimlessly around and the police cars blindly hit everything on their way. If you crash, you’re soon back on the bike, and if you get your bearings (the direction of the bike after the crash is random as well), you’ll most probably win anyway - even those missions labeled “hard”.

Controls are either sloppy or rigid, depending on the bike, and there are severe clipping issues. You can zoom into and through buildings, never finding your way out of a myriad of invisible walls. Usually, when you brush a hedgerow or scrape a lamppost, the bike blows up in a ball of flames, accompanied with some appalling ragdoll physics of the poor rider. Sometimes, you just drive through obstacles. Collide head-on with a car and the bike can explode or get propelled into the air, landing unharmed. The car, on the other hand, spins around wildly, as if it was hit by some unstoppable force.

So, Road Rage is crap. It’s not broken as it’s still somewhat playable, despite its all rage-inducing qualities. It just feels like there’s no effort put into it anywhere. Except for the music. The soundtrack is quite good and trashy, though I’m sure I have heard some of it before. Anyway, if any effort was put to the rest of the game, we could at least have an okay biker action at hands. As it is though, Road Rage can only be recommended for the collectors of really bad games. I know you are out there! Everyone else, steer clear!

Video game nerd & artist. I've been playing computer and video games since the early 80's so I dare say I have some perspective to them. When I'm not playing, I'm usually at my art board.