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Road Rage

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Maximum Games
Release Date: Nov. 14, 2017


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PS4 Review - 'Road Rage'

by Thomas Wilde on March 21, 2018 @ 12:45 a.m. PDT

Road Rage boasts heavy melee-based combat and open-world racing that promises an adrenaline-pumping motorcycle ride for all.

Most Sega Genesis gamers would remember Road Rash, EA's cult classic racing game that added combat to otherwise straightforward highway motorcycle racing. Though it spawned a few sequels and memorable entries on both the 3DO and the original PlayStation, the series would eventually go dormant. With nostalgia running high, several developers have taken it upon themselves to bring back the game via homages. Joining that club is Team 6 with Road Rage, a game that nails down the basic idea of the title it's trying to emulate — but nothing else.

Road Rage comes with something unexpected: a story. In the near future, people are tired of being overlooked and begin to riot in cities across the world. To contain the uprising, cities are barricaded and converted into makeshift prisons. Rather than conform, the rioters form biker gangs that fight for territory and rule the land, stomping out those in their way. As a member of one of these gangs, you try to uphold your gang's authority through two-wheeled violence.

Though a game like this typically doesn't need much of a plot, the one here is awful since parts of it make little sense. It's difficult to tell whether the game is saying that a majority of the people were rioting against the rich or against immigrants, since it uses the vague term, "multi-national." Likewise, money might still be valuable in these walled-off cities, but would a TV be valuable? This seems to matter less when you realize that the game is only interested in telling the story through cell phone text conversations that are somehow voiced. In short, there's absolutely nothing of value in the narrative.

The game has some of Road Rash's basics down. Your bike has an arcade control scheme, and acceleration and braking are the only things you can do, so you can't even lean to the sides. You have a nitrous button for some extra speed and a handbrake to make tighter turns. Striking with your weapon of choice is done with face buttons, each one representing strikes to the left or right side of your biker.

The various story and side missions have you going through several gameplay types. There are standard checkpoint races, where you take laps instead of going from point A to point B. There are time trials, which task you with those same checkpoint races or ask you to take the same looping tracks but with the objective of eliminating riders. There are also elimination races and stunt missions, where you have to perform wheelies, get into near-miss encounters with other cars, and get some air via ramps conveniently placed around the world.

There's a litany of things wrong with Road Rage in just about every area. Starting with the handling, it feels unlike most vehicles you've driven in a game. Turning is terrible; no matter your speed, the bike takes very wide turns as if it were a semi-truck. Try and use the handbrake to help with those turns, and you're asking for a crash since it gives you far less control than expected.

The battle system also doesn't do the game any favors. Despite the wide variety of weapons, they're all powerful enough to take out anyone with one hit. They don't vary much, so there's little incentive to change your weapons unless you're clamoring to see something different. The slow-motion camera that's used when you score a hit looks cool at first, but with no way to turn it off, it can quickly become annoying. The combat also tends to favor your opponents, as their swings are much faster than yours and they can hit from further out, even if it looks like the weapon won't make contact with you.

The AI for your opponents is also rather poor. The pathfinding for your opponent bikers can be shoddy, as they often hit buildings and run into cars. They never seem to be able to catch up to you or maintain a good enough lead to keep races exciting. The cops are guilty of this as well, as you can see them wandering around a level while trying to pursue you. Their terrible navigation skills mean that evading them is the easiest thing to do in the game.

Then there are the bugs. Decide that you want to go backwards, and the camera points at the ground and jerks forward often enough that you'll get dizzy until you stabilize things by going forward. The physics are all over the place, as smacking into an object sometimes does nothing while other times, it results in a fiery explosion. The physics and the wonky AI sometimes cause your opponents to get stuck in places, giving you an easy win or an unconquerable task, depending on the challenge you're currently in. Finish a race, and you'll enter a brief loading screen before being dumped back into the world at top speed and with a momentary loss of control. Then there are times when the game fails to recognize that you've completed all of the necessary steps to progress to a new zone, and it locks you out unless it figures things out or you reboot in hopes that the game realizes its mistake.

Should you forgo participation in events for a little while, you'll find that the open world is boring. AI-driven cars periodically drive by but fail to react to your presence, despite the story saying that everyone fears biker gangs. The same goes for pedestrians, who walk by at a snail's pace and let you whack them without putting up a fight or running away. There are also no secrets to hide and no collectible extras, so the open world is merely a hub for activities; it's just another annoyance in a game full of poor execution.

As you might have expected, we were unable to check out the online modes and performance since the community is completely absent. The game features local split-screen play, but the option is hidden in the single-player menu, so it is pretty easy to miss. For what it's worth, split-screen performs fine since you're simply playing through the various events with another person in tow, but when you consider everything else that's fundamentally wrong with the game, there's no reason to hunt down this feature.

For a game that's available on a powerful console like the PS4, the presentation ranks as some bottom-of-the-barrel PS3 material. Despite being powered on Unreal Engine 4, the textures have a bad habit of taking a long time to fully materialize, and the models look rather rudimentary. The frame rate is decent enough, but the colors are drab, and many surfaces lack any sort of detail. Meanwhile, the voice acting hearkens back to the PSone era, when few could provide a performance that wasn't disinterested or overdone. The music is best described as garbage rock and tired techno.

There's no dancing around it: Road Rage is terrible. From the gameplay mechanics to the presentation, nothing is done right, and every moment spent in the game makes you question why you have it in the first place. Unless you're Trophy-hunting, there are much better PS4 titles that are worthy of your time.

Score: 2.0/10

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