Battle on your bike through the riot riddled city of Ashen
The hype concerning the newly released motorcycle racing combat title, Road Rage, stunned the gaming community with mixed reactions. Looking to bring back the stylings of the iconic Genesis title, Road Rash, players may find themselves in the midst of something entirely different from the beloved biker gang racer in Team6’s attempt at bringing back the genre.
In Ashen City, citizens are forced to stay within the borders, obey corrupt police forces and steer clear of the violent biker gangs that run the city. The seven districts that make up the post-riot city are all secured by law enforcement keeping separation from it civilians, but that won’t stop the gangs and criminals from running loose. Moving through a series of racing related missions focused around taking out other gang members, races to prove your worth and out running the police is now your focus for putting a stop to the villainous forces in Ashen City.
Bruising races and events throughout the districts
Starting out in the dirt-stricken district of Subtroit, you’ll begin to engage in the game’s story missions. Each mission is introduced by voice read text messages giving you more background on the overtaken city. Meeting new and tough-edged characters representing each district, you’ll complete various missions that, in text, seem like action packed mercenary tasks. But in-game, they’re nothing more than simple racing competitions either taking you through checkpoints or swinging your weapon taking out any one in your way.
Sprint and circuit races are standard checkpoint series found in other typical arcade racers. Road Rage, of course, brings in the thrill of halting your opponents with tons of different (mostly) melee weapons. Bats, police batons, combat chains and even chain saws are all apart of the selection of armament featured throughout the campaign. Other events like assassination missions, knockout rounds and stunt contests will have you completing tasks providing a brief break from the straight forward racing events.
A flutter of flaws
Controlling the bikes, weaving throughout traffic acts stiff and offers little difference in handling between the selection of various styles of motorcycles. Choppers, street bikes or even off road dirt bikes are all unlocked through progression in the main story, as well as customizable options and upgrades. This being said, again, there are subtle differences in how each bike handles and maneuvers. Unfortunately, the tedious racing, mission after mission, is not the only downfall of the ambiguous racer.
Random spawning after smashing your ride, sub-par combat mechanics and awful AI racers all take part in hindering the experience that Road Rage tries to deliver. The slightest bump when carefully careening through traffic will, more often than not, ignite you and your ride into an erupting explosion. This rousing and modestly humorous showcase of wreckage is an awesome feature, but recovering from these frequent crashes will can sometimes cause more trouble than they’re worth.
Dropping from the sky works as the respawn method upon eating the asphalt. Most of the time you’ll be pointed in the correct direction of the nearest checkpoint. However, far too frequently riders will either return spawned in the opposite direction, on the opposite side of a median or other glitches like dropping through bridges putting you on the road below well behind the competition, are some of the main problems with the random spawning occurrences.
Another frustrating incident had me running from a horde of police units which in turn caused me to burst into a fiery heap of wreckage. Upon spawning a police cruiser smashed into my bike immediately. Respawning again, a second officer crushed me the second I hit ground. Growing more frustrated as my time continued to wind down from my time trial run, yet again, a third raging police cruiser sent me wailing into a wall making for three, uncontrollable instances that felt like the entire game was out to get me.
While this particular event only happened to me once during my time with Road Rage, one can’t help but wonder how many more frustrating incidents could happen throughout the game. This, however, is hardly the end of sketchy and often unfinished mechanics in the newest cycle racer. The combat is loose and involves zero to no skill. A lot of luck determines whether you’ll make a successful strike before your opponent lands one, but there is some timing to consider. Not enough to make much of a difference, but it saves for a completely dull experience.
At least there are upgrades…
Road Rage does however provide plenty of fierce bikes and gnarly weapons to unlock throughout the game’s natural progression. Along with each motorcycle are multiple upgrades separated by tiers to help build upon your combat racing machine. Cosmetic upgrades are also available to help diversify your ride from the rest of the crowd.
Following the narrative of corrupt gang leaders and city officers chasing your tail, the map of the open world of Ashen City often lays rather bare. While you will find subtle traffic and some areas contain crowds of pedestrians roaming about, you may feel secluded during missions more often than not. While stunt missions will have you not only accumulating a total amount of air and wheelie time, a number of near misses is also on the stunt event check list. Luckily, I never felt that the game wasn’t spawning enough traffic during these particular events. So while the overall feel of the game isn’t exactly a heavily dense city, it’s just crowded enough to help you through the game.
Road Rage isn’t a re-hash of the popular Road Rash series; that becomes evident rather quickly. The only likeness there is between the two motorcycle combat titles is exactly that: motorcycles and combat. Team6 clearly didn’t put their heart and soul into this stumbling racer, but managed to create something just thrilling enough to get passed the fans waiting for the next biker beat ’em up release.
With not much in the way of variety or mission selection, mediocre racing, clumsy, frustratingly reckless AI, and hardly any noticeable difference in each bike’s performance, Road Rage doesn’t exactly scratch the motorcycle/combat itch. It does, however, offer a unique experience different from other arcade racers. Whatever the verdict, don’t expect Road Rage to be something that it’s clearly not trying to be. We all wanted a polished current gen “Road Rash” experience, but its made evident that Team6’s combat racer only provides a portion of what we craved, for only a portion of the cost.
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