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PS2 Preview - '187 Ride or Die'

by Geson Hatchett on Aug. 16, 2005 @ 2:45 a.m. PDT

187 Ride or Die tells the story of a reluctant urban hero named Buck, a young man living a thug's life seething with money, fast cars and beautiful women -- with danger lurking around every corner. Set in the underworld of Los Angeles, Buck must defend the territory of his mentor Dupree from a menacing nemesis and his gang of bandit roughriders, led by Cortez (N. Gugliemi), who are determined to take control of the streets.

Genre: Racing/Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft
Release Date: August 23, 2005

Remember those go-kart racing games we all used to play (or still sometimes do)? Oh, you remember the type. A bunch of little cars go around and around a track, and every so often, you'd get to pick up a quirky, non-offensive item and fire it at an opponent. They'd spin out and make a little "bloop" noise, and you would ride on to victory!

(Unless, of course, you accidentally rode over a banana peel or something. Then you were SOL.)

Ah, so you do remember. I do too.

Now that you do, forget all that.

This is the new millennium, and with that millennium comes action, pyrotechnics, killing, death, and doing whatever it takes, or more, to get to the finish line.

In 2005, yes, we have no banana peels. In fact, you're lucky if you don't become one.

187: Ride or Die aims to answer the question we as gamers have asked for quite some time now: "Why can't I just blast that fool's ride in front of me instead of passing it the old-fashioned way?" We see it in movies with car chases all the time - the thrilling gunfights with shots made out of the driver or passenger's seats while managing to expertly avoid every piece of traffic or debris that may happen along the way. Tires get shot, making cars spin out and fishtail; or punctured gas tanks ignite cars to pieces, and it's all very, very pretty.

Unless it's a Michael Bay film, those firefights are usually limited to pistols or the occasional semi-automatic. In Ride or Die, you'll have your pick of the litter. Want to blast six shells into a fuel tank all at once? Shotgun. Want to just take aim at a drivers head, or blow their gas tank? Uzis, machine guns, tommy guns, take your pick. Want to get the job done fast? Pick up that rocket launcher you're about to pass - or do it the old-fashioned way and point your gun at something flammable and explosive, like a gas station or some conveniently placed chemical tanks near your opponent's car. Proximity mines? All yours. Out of weapons, and stuck with only your sidearm? Ram somebody and take their goods.

In short, this is Rock N' Roll Racing (or R.C. Pro-Am, if you go that far back) gone completely nuts.

The "ride or Die" part of this game comes from the fact that all of the gameplay wrapped in an urban street environment atmosphere. Said atmosphere pretty much looks like every idea presented in every gangsta rap CD one could find smushed together, to the point where it is to laugh. If you can stay with just laughing, though, you should be all right. The whole checklist is here and then some: we've got fast cars, loose women, trash talk, a testosterone level somewhere up in the stratosphere, and a virtual dictionary of black slang that's existed since the 70s, with other words that seem to have be made up on the spot. Even the playable cars have quaint names such as "Corrupt," "G-Funk," "Ballin'," "Street Sweepa'," and "Big Pimpin'."

The storyline puts you in the middle of a turf war - the latest in a long line of many. Your leader owns an empire, and he owns the streets. He's living large because he's fought off countless gangs to get to where he is. However, there's a new face in town, by the name of Cortez, and he's out to take the city for himself, in a take-no-prisoners sort of way. When your leader gets shot nine times (and miraculously lives, yet with a limp!), he calls you in to take his place, and represent him.

Quite bluntly, he asks you to let his crew ride for you, and rep them streets with yo' G-Ridin. (Translation: humiliate Cortez's upstarts in races and, should you feel the need, kill off as many of them as possible in the process.) You want incentive? All right then: "If you fail, you die… you die." Well, the plot's simple enough. (Or is it?) This is where all the fun starts, and you have to take back the city's territory, race-by-race, with different rules each time. In one race, being last in the pack after any lap rigs your car to explode instantly. In another, you can only use mines. You'll race on streets, on highways, and sometimes there'll be a little arena action thrown into the mix as well.

At least, with its faux-hip-hop motif, you'll get a lot of decent beats to do your blasting to. However, listen to the game's dialogue at your own risk. I suppose you could pass it off as an overblown parody of black urban culture and slang. (I, however, don't.)

The game performs well technically - in exchange for a single loading screen, you get a consistent frame rate, good environments, and a game engine that reacts well to all of the firepower and explosions being thrown around, to the point of the game zooming over to defeated cars once they blow, and treating you to slow-motion fireworks that never get old. There's a sort of sick satisfaction to be had from watching a driver get propelled out of his own vehicle by way of the tremendous power of ignited gasoline.

We've seen the mechanics, ideas and technologies featured this game in previous ones, but all for them to come together like this is a rarity indeed. You'll get the chance to experience the thrill of doing what you never could in go-karts when this title hits retail.

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