Road Rage is a rough, poorly designed mess that’s a shadow of the game it’s trying to emulate. The FingerGuns Review;
If you’ve going to release a biker combat game and call it “Road [ANY OTHER WORD]” then you’re obviously going to draw comparisons to the EA classic Road Rash. There are a number of games trying to resurrect the magic of the 1991 original with varying degrees of success. “Road Rage”, developed by Team6 and published by Maximum Games, is the latest game to attempt this and while it copies the general tenets of what made Road Rash excellent, they’re contained in a rough, unpolished, buggy and frustrating package.
Road Rage is set in the fictional dystopian city of Ashen that has been separated into 6 different sectors after the citizens started a revolt. Once locked away, these sectors were left to manage themselves and were soon overrun by biker gangs for unexplained reasons. You play as a disenfranchised biker from Subtroit, one of the sectors, that wants to break free from the oppression and explore the other sectors.
In terms of play, Road Rage is a cross between the arcade version of Manx TT and a stiffer, more forgiving version of the Grand Theft Auto IV bike riding. Your rider is glued to the bike until they crash which means they can’t over strear and drop the bike or throw yourself from the back with a turn too quickly. It’s an arcade racer that wants to be accessible but is made frustrating by the rest of the package.
The general idea to Road Rage is to drive around the open world between locations which trigger one of the game’s 42 story events or 56 side missions. There’s an impressive amount of variety in the missions for a budget title, ranging from simple circuit races to to more exotic modes. In the assassination mode, you have to track down specific targets and kill them by hitting them with a weapon. Elsewhere, the Knockout mode tasks you to take out a set number of other racers before the time runs out. Then there’s the Escape mode which sets the sector police on you and challenges you to out run the 5-0. Stunt modes ask you to get a required amount of air time, get “near misses” with cars and do wheelies.
Unfortunately, almost every aspect of the game is ruined by the atrocious AI. Even the circuit races described as “Hard” are simple enough. You just have to wait until the other riders drive into a part of the terrain and get stuck in it and you’ll end up lapping most of the field. The Assassination and Knockout missions are a frustrating mess because the AI makes them such terrible riders and them crashing isn’t good enough to count as a “kill”. You spend half your time waiting for your target to respawn because they just crashed into a bridge or a car or a blade of grass. The Stunt missions require you to perform “near-misses” by driving close to cars. When the world is so sparse and the AI so terrible that they’ll just turn into you at a junction, these also fall to pieces. Escape missions throw a police force that’s dumb and mindlessly aggressive at you. The police cars crash into one another as they chase you, like a bunch of 5 year olds playing football, all chasing the ball. There’s no strategy to their chase. Just dumb AI.
The open world of Ashen itself is a mess. Beside the reflections on puddles, which was the only visually impressive aspect of the game, the rest of the game looks like an early PS3-era title. The textures are bland and contain little detail, the lighting is almost constantly a little off making everything look beige and drab and there’s a grey fog effect which is obviously used to partly hide the shoddy draw distance but just makes the game look washed out. The lifelessness of the visuals are equalled by the lifelessness of the game world. You’ll occasionally see a car and in some sectors, you’ll see pedestrians walking predefined paths that won’t move if you threaten to run them over. In other areas, specially the farming zone, there’s no life to be seen at all.
What’s even more bizarre about the world of Ashen is that only parts of the world have any physical presence in the game. The Subtroit area looks highly detailed, with lampposts, security barriers, traffic lights and other scenery adorning the side of the road – only most of it is for aesthetics only. You can drive right through them. In the Forest zone, there’s sections of greenery aside the road which look like part of the track, but if you drive over it, you fall through the floor of the map. The police put up big concrete barriers when chasing you which are little more than ghostly apparitions that you can mosey on through. It’s truly odd.
Then there are the bugs. The crash detection is wildly inconsistent. Hit a building at full speed and you can bounce off but drive over a steep curb at anything more than a canter and you’ll go flying like an awkward ragdoll. Quite often, the game doesn’t recognised that you’ve fallen off your bike and just leaves you twitching on the floor without respawning you, forcing you to restart whatever you’re doing. During my time with Road Rage, I’ve been trapped inside buildings, trees, walls, the floor and a giant energy drink can. No, seriously.
The only saving grace for Road Rage is the fight mechanics. The combat is mapped to 2 buttons – the square and circle buttons. Square swings your weapon left, circle swings your weapon right. You can also lock yourself into combat with an enemy with a press of the square button which matches speeds and gently guides your direction. This allows you to concentrate on hitting your opponent with any of the wild, wacky and brutal weapons such as a chainsaw, a golf club and a selfie stick.
The only other positive to Road Rage is the soundtrack which sounds like it’d be at home in the next Blade movie. Prodigy rip offs mix with heavy metal riffs and while many of them are clones of popular tracks, they’re pretty catchy.
Road Rage wildly misses the mark of successfully replicating the magic of Road Rash. It’s a poorly put together game that has more bugs than an insectarium and contains only a handful of enjoyable moments. The combat, which works better than almost every other Road Rash inspired title I’ve played, and the soundtrack are the only positives to this turgid, unfinished mess that’ll make you Rage Quit rather than Road Rage.
Road Rage is available now on PC, PS4 (Review version) and Xbox One.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we recieved a copy of the game from the publishers. Please see our review policy here for more info.