It's always a gamble to try to release a licensed game at the same time as the movie premiere. Get a movie license that has lots of exposure, recognition and does well, and some people are already interested in the title. A hated license can at least elicit some morbid curiosity, with examples such as Battleship and Alvin & The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. Then there is the worst-case scenario of getting a movie license that people have forgotten before it even hits the screen. Such is the case with R.I.P.D., a movie based on the Dark Horse comic series that was released during the weekend of San Diego Comic-Con with little to no buzz. It bombed horribly at the box office, and the somewhat silent release of the game caught many by surprise. Unfortunately, this isn't the good kind of surprise.
The premise follows the movie fairly closely. Nick Walker was a member of the Boston Police Department when he got involved in a shootout and lost. As his soul ascended the tunnel of light, he was pulled in a different direction toward the Rest In Peace Department, a police force designed to capture souls that fail to cross over to the other side — affectionately known as Deados. After being partnered up with Roy, a cowboy from the 1800s, Nick is sent to investigate the recent phenomenon of Deados stealing gold.
This is where the story ends. The rest of the game doesn't bother progressing the story beyond the opening cinematic. Granted, a story isn't necessary for this title, but to leave a plot thread and not follow up on it isn't exactly the best way to tell a tale. You must replay levels multiple times to finish the game, but it's not helpful that your rewards consist of cryptic, brief snippets that say you're getting closer to the end.
The gameplay is simple and a different take on most licensed titles. You begin by selecting a character, difficulty, level and loadout. Once you get into a game, either solo or with a partner, you must try to survive as five waves of Deados come at you. The Deados vary from regular foot soldiers to ones shielded by car doors. Healers, large brutes and snipers can absorb plenty of damage. By the fifth wave, you find a special Deado, knock him down, and either execute him or arrest him to end the level. You are timed throughout each wave, and while each successfully completed wave gives you more minutes on the clock, each death takes away a minute instead. In short, this is a game inspired by the Horde mode from Gears of War 2 or Old School's God mode, but with fewer players and a licensed skin.
There are some unique spins in R.I.P.D., though. Throughout the match, you're presented with random challenges that enable you to earn money. Challenges range from killing a certain amount of enemies while standing in a zone or sprinting to find randomly placed gold in a level. While the challenges aren't terribly inventive, they change things up a bit. There are also bets that can be taken before the match begins to make the cooperative mode more competitive. Some range from the expected, like getting a higher kill count than your partner, but others, such as trying to kill your opponent during the match, are odd since they're very counterproductive to co-op play.
For a title that is seemingly focused on multiplayer, there are a myriad of issues plaguing the game. We were unable to find a Quick Match game during the review period. Based on other reviews and forum posts, there are some theories/research about why matches are so difficult to get into, but based on experience, the online community for the game is outright dead. With the game failing to provide support for bots, consider this a completely solo affair.
The game is also very fond of grinding at every opportunity. Your rewards for finishing matches seem fine until you look at the store and see that guns and their upgrades cost quite a bit. To get something that's only marginally better than your default set, you have to really go through levels to earn enough for an upgrade, let alone a new weapon. As mentioned earlier, the grinding is also necessary to make the game's somewhat nonexistent story go forward. Even though there are only a few levels to run through, if you're upgrading a pistol, expect to see them more often than you'd like.
The big strike against the game is that the general gameplay does everything to prevent the player from enjoying the product. With the exception of the sniper Deados, they all know how to rush the player while attacking or take dodges. Their looks also never change, so you'll always face grungy-looking Deados with plungers or car doors even if the environment doesn't merit such things. No matter which officer you choose, his/her moves are only limited to sprinting and diving to dodge. No matter which gun you choose, none feel powerful even when they're powered up to the limit. You might get a bit of recoil, but none of the shots you make have any reaction from the Deados.
With no indicator that a shot hit or sending foes reeling, everyone is essentially a bullet sponge. They can take in plenty of shots, and even something like a melee attack feels like a simple brush to the face instead. One might try to rely on the special weapons that come from consecutive kills, but even those feel useless in a fight. Chaining up a Deado is fine, but when a slew of them come at you, it feels pointless. Only the chaingun turret is considered effective, but since that doesn't stay around for too long, it's also useless until you remember that it's there.
R.I.P.D. only has one real positive attribute, and it is the references to the source material. Get used to clever puns in Achievement names. That also carries over to the difficulty levels, which are also marked with spice heat levels instead of the traditional easy, normal, and hard nomenclature. Both the banana and blow dryer are also here as nods to what other humans see the cops wielding. Don't expect much else, as the unlockables are rather sparse with only 10 pictures ranging from movie production stills to "making of" character models. It's not much, but it is something.
Graphically, the title ranges from passable to below average. There is some nice lens flare coming from the laser sights of enemy sniper rifles. The puffs of smoke that appear when someone dies are nice. The character models for the two heroes look decent as long as you tell yourself that they are bad representations of both actors. The few models they had for the Deados aren't that bad. They could use some work, especially when you can see that all of the weapons float beside characters instead of properly attaching themselves to them. The environments are rather bland, with the same brown and gray color scheme of this console generation, and the accompanying effects to each environment aren't pulled off very well. Most items don't react to your movements and gunfire, while small things like paper in a library shoot up wildly from the slightest of movements instead of being realistically shuffled, depending on your movement speed. Texture pop-up isn't severe, but it is seen in things like small plastic chairs when you turn a corner or just about anything else. Animations aren't very smooth, and some of them are rather exaggerated, such as seeing a shielded Deado stretch his arm much further than normal to hit you with the car door. At the very least, the game graphics aren't very demanding, so a decent rig could easily run this at 60 frames per second quite.
Audio, on the other hand, is less than passable. Voice work is relegated to an announcer who is barely audible and sounds bored as he tells you about challenges of opening up or about the arrival of the head Deado. Those expecting even impersonations of either Jeff Bridges or Ryan Reynolds won't find any of that. The music is relegated to white noise, as there's nothing here that's remotely memorable. The sound effects suffer the worst, as nothing sounds right. This is especially true of the guns, which sound muted when firing but with no effects for things like melee attacks. You're left wondering if the sound effects were missing from the latest build or simply not there.
R.I.P.D.: The Game is bad. The requirements for multiplayer are convoluted enough that the community is virtually nonexistent. The gameplay is not only repetitive but lacks any sort of excitement thanks to a recycled enemy. Even the presentation lacks any sort of care normally seen in a licensed title. On consoles, the deck is already stacked against this title, since there are other games that do this much better but on PC, with a wider breadth of multiplayer games, this doesn't even get a mention in casual conversation. Even if you're a mega-fan of either the comic or film, stay away from this title.
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