Ride To Hell: Retribution

Condemned.

Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 3/ RRP: £29.99 / Time Played: Four hours. And it burns like fire.

It’s times like this words fail me.

It’s hard to quantify what makes Ride To Hell just a repugnant, despicable game because the vile corruption that seeps from every pore and from its every orifice is overpowering, messing with the mind in a manner where simple words cannot express the sensation that comes from experiencing it. Something from the very beginning throws you and it never picks up from there, be it the minimal loading screen that just feels like it was bodged together at the last moment, and no-one thought to pretty it up or gloss it over.

The game itself begins as it means to go on. The first section is a sort of turret bit where death is swift, immediate and unavoidable unless the game deigns you to carry on. The sluggish control method coupled with a compromised view makes spotting incoming death a challenge unto itself, and it takes a few attempts to get through it. The second section is a sort of out of context brawl done in the form of a quick-time event, with the grace and collision detection of two canine ghosts on an ice skating rink. You just sit there, dumbfounded. There’s nothing to say. Your every inclination says to just turn it off now, don’t put yourself through any more of this horrible experience.

Then after an abnormally long sequence of cutscenes (which after The Last of Us were so comically bad I thought this was a PS2 port!), came a chase sequence. After about a minute, the game – for no reason than to piss me off – phased out and turned me 180 degrees, but I didn’t know this until I had failed the mission. This happened four times before I got past what was otherwise a very short sequence, which gave me the impression of the bike handling mechanics – mechanics which, frankly, are almost unbelievable in this modern era. It is unresponsive, sluggish and the collision detection is so woefully inadequate the game either allows you through solid objects or bounces you off a simple fold-away traffic barrier. It’s terrible. Actually, that’s unfair. Aliens: Colonial Marines is terrible. This invents a whole new league of awful.

After more cutscenes, we’re introduced to the Devil’s Hand, who give chase in another sequence. This time, a few hang around as you ride along whilst others conveniently (and at set intervals) drift up alongside you, prompting a button-mashing sequence to kick them off the bike. Eventually, into another seemingly jumped-ahead cutscene where Jake and Mikey are caught with again no overall context or attempt to square up the jump or why you just went through an otherwise completely pointless chase sequence, and Mikey ends up kicking the bucket in what can only be described as the least convincing death scene since the PS1 era.

That’s the first half an hour. And it doesn’t get any better. What follows is a fight sequence that is so poorly animated and with such an unconvincing collision detection that I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Then followed a bit where you had to search for a guy, he runs off, and you’re asked to go back to your bike. Which… isn’t where you think it is. And the sprint function – essential to doing this on time – doesn’t work properly. You sprint for a second or two before it stops, and you need to hit the button again.

Ride to Hell: Retribution isn’t just a bad game. It’s fundamentally broken at a core level. It’s hard to explain any of the above away in any other logical method.

There’s lots of evidence to support this as the game looks tacky and would have been ugly at the end of the PS2 era where we were enjoying things like Shadow of the Colossus, let alone the end result we ended up getting at the end of this generation. The music and sounds are short and loop in an endless repetition that goes nowhere fast, and grates more than it should.

Of course, it’s not merely the game itself which is broken, the themes and messages are terrible and handled with a complete lack of care and understanding. The girls in this game are much like those in The Witcher: i.e., there for our vulgar hero to get his jollies on with. Except, you know, The Witcher made it kind of funny, kind of odd, didn’t hold back and ultimately gave the women some semblance of a personality to boot. The girls in Ride to Hell are, well, sluts. They exist solely to be sexed up, and have no other purpose than to be kidnapped, rescued and screwed whilst parading their massive wobbly silicone-enhanced 60’s/70’s tits in a variety of barely-there outfits that wouldn’t have been out of place in the movie Striptease. And even then, Striptease at least gave its girls personalities! And when you do have sex – clothes on! – it’s almost comical. It’s almost telling the first woman you meet up with is merely a black woman in skimpy clothes who carries the only descriptor of, “Prostitute”. There is no context in the world that makes that more palatable.

Then there are the themes of violence, drug abuse (and selling of drugs!), general nastiness and misogyny. The ‘hero’, Jake Conway, is a Vietnam vet but there’s no other means to denote why he ends up being such a massive, grade-A douche of a character that makes Kane and Lynch look like Jigglypuff and Pikachu in comparison. It culminates in a crescendo of nothing much at all, all the while I sat there, mouth agape. I wasn’t even sure why I was still playing. My brain, sensibly, detached all higher functions and went onto auto-pilot. “We’re not having any part of this.”, came the message inside my head. “We’re going on strike until you turn this trash off!”

After that, everything else was a blur. Nothing much made sense, and nothing much got said or done.

What stuck with me is just how many times the game froze on me, just how many restarts needed to happen through poor check-pointing and signposting. At the fact the game engine couldn’t even render the road more than twenty feet in front of me, so looking into the distance was no good as it was all a sequence of texture loading. Nor the background, which they didn’t even bother to texture properly so it all looks made of Play-do. The game wears vulgarity on its sleeve in a blatant attempt to be more edgy than it should ever be given credit for, but ultimately even the voice actors couldn’t give two shits about their performances so I barely even tried to empathise. The models are terrible too, terribly made with beards and hair that just seem fake, or plastic.

The controller barely did what I wanted it too either. The game has a control mechanism that is frankly laughably alien in its conceit, with a run button on the R2 trigger, because hey, that’s the best place to ask someone to hold a button, right? Or not, considering it doesn’t work properly. The chase sequences are dire, the combat is terrible, the story is so badly written that as a writer, I am frankly insulted someone got paid for this tripe. There’s just… nothing nice about this game at all.

What you end up with is a badly made, poorly produced and shoddily-crafted title that lacks charm, lacks anything even resembling polish and has been jettisoned into the UK market at £29.99, without letting anyone review it first. Obviously because there’s nothing nice to be said about it at all, so why bother? Just try and get the sales whilst people aren’t thinking. Hey, it worked for Aliens: Colonial Marines, maybe it’ll work for Deep Silver, right?

Wrong. Aliens: Colonial Marines at least had the dignity to function something like a game. It wasn’t the cavalcade of utter disgrace that Ride to Hell is, or involved. I’d take this down to the second hand shop, but I feel I would only be hurting some other poor bastard who walked in and picked it up. I will be taking my copy, and I will be breaking it into little bits. I will be taking my copy and I will shatter it, and then I will burn it until it is gone. It deserves to not exist. It deserves to be destroyed, and there is no other game that has left such a horrible taste in the back of my mouth as I retch constantly from the shoddy visuals, the crap frame rate and the constant juddering.

I knew the game would be bad; but still, I knew The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct would be bad too. I still found something nice inside that. Someone gave a toss about Survival Instinct, and scratch off the surface layer of filth and you do get the impression they tried. Ride to Hell: Retribution is not nice. I don’t get the impression anyone cared about this project at all. I get the feeling that after it’s supposed cancellation in 2009, all they did was pull it as-is from a hard drive, compile it and shove it out onto the market in order to make some money. There’s no other way of explaining it without personally insulting every single person involved with the project. The implications of anyone being happy with the end result here would blow my mind.

I’ve played some truly terrible games in my time. I thought I’d played bad games in the past; Superman 64. Resident Evil Gun Survivor 2: Code Veronica X. Daggerdale. Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor. Nothing prepared me for this. Nothing could have prepared me for this. Nothing will prepare anyone for this. Ride to Hell: Retribution is, simply, up there as one of the worst games I have ever played. There can be absolutely no excuse for this game. There is no excuse. There should be no excuse.

There is nothing redeeming about this pile of crap. There is no reason at all not to give this a golden turd mark of disapproval. It’s not even worthy of a one. It’s so awful… it makes me speechless. After about four hours, half of that where my higher cognitive functions simply detached and went on holiday to Barbados or something to avoid long-term damage, you just realise that there’s nothing that could ever justify this.

It’s ghastly. Run away. Save yourselves, and never look back. This isn’t comically bad. It’s just plain awful and nasty. That it exists is an affront to video games developers across the world. The only good to come from this is Randy Pitchford can now sleep like a baby at night again. After Aliens: Colonial Marines, he can now cover himself up in his fuzzy Borderlands-printed blanket and snuggle up onto the pillow. “It’s alright.” He can tell himself, quietly and repeatedly. “I wasn’t involved in Ride to Hell!”

Deep Silver… this is the worst game in a decade. Are you proud of yourselves for this?

I sure as hell hope not…

SUMMARY;

YAY!;

  • Not a single thing.
  • Nada.
  • Nothing.
  • Nope.
  • Ain’t gonna happen.

NAY!;

  • Everything.
  • Clothed sex scenes? Come on.
  • Handles like a pig on speed.
  • Textures refuse to load.
  • Looks like a PS2 game.
  • Actually, no, most PS2 games looked contextually better than this.
  • Ghastly tone.

Ey?;

  • How the HELL did anyone greenlight this for a release?
  • How does anyone involved in this sleep at night?
  • WHY? Seriously. WHY? Do you hate gamers so much that you had to do this?

OVERALL CONCLUSION – In fire, I condemn you! (Zero. Golden Turd Award, when I can make a graphic for it!)

Ride to Hell: Retribution is just the worst game of this generation, and of the last two generations I would be so bold as to say. There’s no excuse for the tone, and there’s no excuse for it to be as technically shoddy and broken as it is. How anyone allowed this onto their console is the real question. It’s just plain ghastly. Avoid it as if your life depended on it.

Header image used – promotional image. Yes, that’s a promotional image.
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