Every few years a game comes along that separates itself from the rest by throwing caution to the wind and betting big. Very few other games can even be compared to a game like this one. It takes true skill to have each individual element come together so perfectly to create a final product such as this. Ride to Hell: Retribution is a one-of-a-kind gem that you aren’t likely to find again. It is – without a doubt – one of the worst games I have ever played in my life. It not only may be the worst game for this console generation, but it’s a strong candidate for being one of the worst games ever made. Think those words are too strong? Read on to see why I can say them so confidently.
You play as Jack, who has returned from the Vietnam War to live with his uncle and brother. Within minutes of beginning the game, your brother is murdered before your eyes, and you swear revenge against the biker gang who committed such an atrocious act, the Devil’s Hand. It’s a cliché story, but that doesn’t necessarily make it bad. It could’ve been an emotional thrill-ride if the presentation and execution of the entire game wasn’t done so poorly. The story (if it can even be called that) is pathetic in all narrative forms, and there is almost nothing that can be saved from the garbage this game puts out. You lose any attachment to Jack almost immediately. After his brother is murdered, the game continues on, and there is practically no hesitation in skipping to a sex scene with an all-too-willing woman for helping her with the smallest task. Seriously, Jake? For someone who is about to kill hundreds of people in the name of revenge, you could’ve mourned at least a little bit. The plot, dialog, characters, and especially the voice acting all drive this game down into the gutters where it should never leave.
The way the game presents itself is simply unacceptable and should be insulting to the gamer that is unlucky enough to experience it. It doesn’t even look like the developers were trying; if there was ever an example of an unfinished game this is it. There are hardly any transitions that make sense, and many of them are simply the screen blacking out in such an obstructive way that you think the game may have broken. The segues between gameplay and cut-scenes are poorly executed and pointless a majority of the time. You’ll be riding your motorcycle when the screen fades out, and next thing you know, you are in a fight. There is no motorcycle slowing down or transition at all. The game just skips around to what should be “exciting” points, but they certainly aren’t that. The most annoying moments are watching a quick scene, riding on your motorcycle for thirty seconds, and watching yet another scene. What makes it even worse are the slow load times and how frequent they are, which really adds to the frustration this game so easily causes.
The horrendous graphics only worsen the overall experience as well. They are equal to the Playstation 2, and that isn’t an exaggeration. Lots of games will have textures pop in a little late, but there are entire scenes where textures will never appear, and that leaves you with bland, blocky characters and sets to watch. The entire game is blocky in design, from characters to weapons, and nothing seems to fit or maintain the same concept. The setting is boring with bland desert landscapes. These things are forgivable, but there are so many more reasons that this game fails. This is only the beginning.
Bad story and presentation can be pushed aside for fun gameplay. Ride to Hell promises intense gunplay, beat ‘em up style combat, and fast motorcycle racing mixed with combat as well. Would it be shocking at this point for me to say that it’s all awful? Honestly, this game doesn’t do any of those aspects properly. Each one is repetitive, dull, slow, uncreative, and horrible to experience. There isn’t a single point in this game where you think, “Well…that was kind of fun.” It never happens. You are always frustrated and vehemently angry playing Ride To Hell.
The motorcycle driving has cumbersome controls, boring landscapes, random obstacles, and combat that is so pathetic, it’s embarrassing. Once an enemy enters the screen on their own motorcycle, the two bikes stick together like glue, and you lose complete control of your motorcycle as it attaches itself to an invisible track to follow the road. A button prompt appears, and after pressing the designated button, you dispose of the enemy and take control once again. The break in controlling your bike every time an enemy appears completely dispels any feeling of playing the game. The combat aspect aside, riding the bike alone is still boring. It’s incredibly linear with the most random objects blocking your way, and every moment you’re on your bike feels like a chore. If you hit an obstacle, there is no animation, no explosion, no scene, no crash, no nothing. The game fades out with you still sitting on your bike and restarts you in a proper position. Something that really confused me is the pathetic sounds the motorcycle engines make. One would think that at the very least, this game would’ve gotten that right with such a heavy emphasis on them. Then again, the overall theme here is that this game gets nothing right.
The hand-to-hand combat is even worse than riding the bike, because it takes even longer and is equally as terrible. You attack with one button, break an enemy’s guard with another, and defend with a third. That’s it. There is some countering, but nothing dramatic. It’s even more awkward than driving because of how slow the combat is and how you have to break an enemy’s defense every two seconds to land a damaging hit. You can pick up weapons to give some more excitement, but it doesn’t change the combat up at all. In fact, attacks make the same exact sound. A knife making the same sound as your fists isn’t right on any level and only adds to the game’s overall lazy presentation. Fighting through hordes of enemies is tiresome almost immediately, but luckily, you can pull out your gun and shoot all the empty-handed thugs. It’s questionable as to why the game allows that and why the enemies still charge you, but really, that’s giving this game too much credit.
Luckily, the gun-play is fantastic…Oh, wait; it’s not. It’s horrible like the rest of the game. Think of the most generic and boring third-person shooter you can, and this game is even worse. It’s slow, clunky, uneventful, nothing new, and the only reason it isn’t as much of a drag as the rest of the game is the simple fact that shooting enemies is faster than fighting with your hands, so you’re more inclined to shoot everybody to advance the game more quickly. Aiming is difficult and shooting enemies gives you no satisfaction. There are different weapons to use, and you can even purchase upgraded weapons. Finding a progression system in this game was shocking, to say the least, but in the end, it really isn’t that well constructed either.
Then there are just all the other awkward issues that make the game even more laughable. The enemy A.I. is pathetic and will never hide completely behind cover. They will also run into one another and become stuck running in place. The most ridiculous time this happened was when four enemies all bundled together in one happy group, not moving an inch. There will be moments when you have no idea where you are supposed to go. There is a marker to inform you, but sometimes it won’t update, so you are left to wander aimlessly, hoping you stumble upon the proper area to progress the game. At other times, the game won’t allow you to progress even though you are in the correct position, forcing you to restart. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are times you will fail your mission with no idea why you failed. As stated earlier, the screen usually just fades out or immediately cuts to “Load the last checkpoint”. You sit there and stare at the screen, thinking, “What the hell did I do?” Basically, this game is awkward from start to finish.
This game is rare indeed, since it is probably the worst game on this console generation, and could be a strong contender for all time. The story, graphics, setting, and voice acting ruin any chance of you caring at all about the characters or plot. Then the horrendous gameplay will drive you mentally insane after playing for just an hour. It took me ten minutes to know I was going to absolutely hate this game. There are 37 missions; after mission 10, I turned the game off and vowed I would not put myself through that again. The next day, I decided to try and finish the game in order to write an honest review. The nightmare I experienced to be able to write this review is something I never want to go through again. The frustrated groans, the obscenities I aimed at the screen, and the controllers that flew across the room will never be forgotten as meaningful sacrifices in attempting to complete this game. This game definitely has one thing right, and that’s the title: Ride To Hell. It is certainly a horrible ride of despair and anguish that will undoubtedly have you wishing you were in hell rather than playing this game. Then again, if hell exists, it is probably playing this game over and over for eternity.
This review is based of a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version of Ride To Hell: Retribution developed by Deep Silver and Eutechnyx and published by Deep Silver.