Game: Road Rage
Developer: Team 6
Publisher: Maximum Games
Reviewed: PlayStation 4
There’s nothing quite like witnessing the rampaging, top-down hilarity of Grand Theft Auto for the first time. Rockstar’s penchant for sandbox action violence was born, and in the evanescent summer, my young mind was ensnared; I remember feeling an identical sensation at Road Rash, a PC motorbike racer with exaggerated cartoon personalities that let you punch and kick your competitors in the face. Cheating, thieving and police evasion was the name of the game, and I gobbled it up with glee. Upon hearing a game called Road Rage had entered the scene, my delight grew tenfold.
Not to be confused with Road Rash spiritual successor Road Redemption, Maximum Games’ Road Rage is an ode to anarchy that refreshingly ditches the typical racing script in search of open-world glory. It’s probably best described as the lovechild of Road Rash and GTA, borrowing GTA‘s overall mission structure (including incoming mobile phone calls) as well as the more obvious replication of its five star wanted system.
That’s nothing seasoned GTA vets haven’t seen, but it’s not a blatant rip-off, either; Road Rage distinguishes itself with a host of races that span elimination rounds, timed-checkpoint chasing, outracing the cops, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater style stunt performance. It’s an interesting mix, and in the open-world setting of Subtroit, hunting down these challenges via mini-map is enjoyable and partially breaks the linearity of the central storyline.
Much like GTA, you’re thrown into tough-love neighbourhoods where gangs rule. The main difference is that story progression demands motorcycle upgrades, and motorcycle upgrades demand money, which naturally translates to replaying previously completed missions or whacking pedestrians. So while Road Rage has the right ideas, it gets a bit lost in monotony, and another much more pertinent issue: questionable controls.
For a racing game, it’s paramount you get basic movement and turning mechanics right, especially if you’re perma-strapped onto a vehicle the whole time. As essential as cheese is to pizza, this is what either makes or breaks an experience. So I cannot adequately describe my crushing disappointment during testing Road Rage.
Venting your anger by batting pedestrians can be a minor source of income.
Movement feels unwieldy, frustrating, and glacially unresponsive; Compared to the luxurious handling of Moto Racer 4, these controls are seriously lacking, turning is a nightmare, and I frequently encountered collision detection issues with buildings (as well as a frozen glitch after being busted by the police) which shattered Road Rage‘s suspension of reality.
My ire was kept in check by smacking the pedestrians—hilarious, theatrical and explosive—but it still wasn’t enough to cure it. The music on the other hand is brilliant. An angry, adrenaline-pumping rock suite is the perfect way to round out Road Rage‘s atmosphere. It gives missions character, bite, and a convincing anti-authoritarian spirit that mimics GTA well. The motorcycle upgrades fill out the remainder of the Road Rage shell. Represented like stats, they dispense top ups for exhaust, nitro, better wheels and more, at gradually increasing but fairly staged prices that makes a nice game loop. Still, the functionality enhancements are slight and don’t rescue Road Rage from crude controls.
Despite its wonderful, aggressive soundtrack and shady neighbourhoods, Road Rage emerges as a game with good potential that is marred by mechanical problems, a forgettable story, and flawed mission layout that forces you to grind. This is a conceptually exciting entry, but Mechanic Games come up short in execution.
Road Rage is out now for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. At $29.99 USD, it needs to raise the bar to be bang for your fuel-guzzling buck.
Full Disclosure: A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for purposes of this review.