Review: Road Rage

I was a big fan of Road Rash. The Mega Drive version was my first experience, there was something so visceral about high powered bikes and smashing opponents with crowbars and pipes. I’ve pretty much enjoyed all of the Road Rash games on some level, even Road Rash 64 with its bright colours and more classical tracks. So it’s with much excitement and hope I started to play Road Rage. Oh boy. What a mistake.

Born on Kickstarter, early shots looked promising. Someone has taken that classic Road Rage feel, updated it for today’s consoles and it should be something truly special. It disappoints on all fronts, and not even that it’s not up to the standards of hopes and dreams, but that it’s all out terrible.

Immediately it’s clear that this was built on a limited budget. The menus are basic text on a picture background. What’s a menu anyways, it doesn’t really matter. Starting the story mode and the voiceover sounds promising, then you’re on your bike. There are so many things wrong here. Firstly, it’s an open world. It looks horrible, but you’ll drive from Point A to B to collect missions – not exactly the burning, thrashing, smashing Road Rash ideology. But the main problem is clear – the handling is utterly terrible.

With almost no sensitivity, your bike spins and veers all over the place as if bending on a vertical pole. There are other riders about if you can manage to catch up with them. The missions get you into the core game, where you’ll find races, time trials, elimination events. All of these are replayable from the main menu but as a list of mission titles – with no descriptions what they are and no clue as to why you should replay them.

Problem number two – the combat. If the handling is the most important part of a vehicular game, the combat is surely a close second in a vehicular combat game. In fairness, once you begin to engage with someone the game ‘links’ you so you can have a battle without having to worry about being on the exact horizontal plane. Two problems exist here, firstly this is nigh-on impossible as you’re trying to also navigate courses in this enhanced view, and the second is that it is completely (no pun intended) hit or miss. I’m not really sure how it works honestly, you have a button for left and a button for right attack, but it seems random if I win or lose fights.

The world is pretty barren, with all of the obstacles seemingly on the exit of corners to make the already challenging handling even harder. The police have a presence too, who pop up but can simply be avoided by turning a corner and standing still. As soon as you start moving they’re on you again. The cops are basically T-Rexes. Something which isn’t barren is the soundtrack. At every opportunity it assaults your senses. Groaning engine noise, and the worst most obtuse rock soundtrack blare over everything.

There is a multiplayer option if you wish to share your suffering but presumably all of the Kickstarter backers have given up long ago on this as I could not find a game to join with anything.

It feels horrible to give such a damning review, especially when this is clearly someone’s project that they care about enough to kickstart, and put work into. But the truth is it’s not a good game, it looks bad, it sounds bad and worst of all, it plays bad. Avoid.

Reviewed on PS4

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