Originally, Ride to Hell: Retribution was intended to be an open-world title, similar to the likes of Grand Theft Auto. There were plans for players to be able to explore the Western United States, fully customise your bike and take pictures on a Polaroid.
Following a series of development problems and script rewrites, Ride to Hell: Retribution has finally made it to shop shelves. However, while the original intentions were full of promise, the final product is a long way off.
Set in 1969, Ride to Hell: Retribution tells the story of Jake Conway, a Vietnam veteran and member of a family of bikers. He returns home to a changed country, though his attempt to live a peaceful life with his family is ruined when a rival bike gang kill his brother. As a result, Jake seeks revenge.
Ride to Hell: Retribution shows evidence of its former sandbox style at a number of points during the game. For example, the level navigation is done through a garage, located in a small town, which contains some nicely designed buildings. While Jake is unable to explore the town in full, there was clearly a lot of work put into this brief section of the game. There’s also a nice looking casino, though players only get a small taster of this.
Other than that, the best thing about Ride to Hell: Retribution is the fact that the disc makes a great coaster for your cup of tea or coffee… seriously.
Considering a large portion of Ride to Hell: Retribution involves riding motorbikes; the handling is very weak, which makes driving extremely frustrating. Cornering is especially difficult and the somewhat bizarre exclusion of a crash animation means that collisions with other vehicles and obstacles places the gamer a few yards back as if by magic.
While riding, players are able to powerslide and pull off wheelies, though there is no satisfaction in doing so. Furthermore, rival gang members will attempt to knock you off your bike. Their bugged entrance triggers a button-bashing sequence, which quickly gets repetitive.
The other portion of the gameplay involves killing enemies on foot. This sees Jake using a small range of melee weapons and guns. Combat is slow and repetitive and very unsatisfying. In addition, special combat sequences known as Dirty Fighting Techniques are located throughout. These are long, mediocre scenes that gamers will regret doing almost instantly.
Ride to Hell: Retribution contains a cover system. As you’ve probably already assumed, it’s not great. Jake can take cover behind boxes and fences, though getting into cover is particularly problematic and it can quickly lead to the player’s death, which wouldn’t have been a big issue if the checkpoints were distributed better.
In (what are supposed to be) tense situations, Ride to Hell: Retribution provides a limited soundtrack of rock music, though don’t expect to hear the likes of Led Zeppelin or AC/DC. The generically-produced tracks featured throughout wouldn’t look out of place in a knock-off Guitar Hero.
Cutscenes aren’t any better. The voice acting is very unconvincing, and isn’t helped by the extremely poor lip-syncing. This is particularly evident when Jake saves women from the wrath of rival gang members. Rather than a quick thank-you and a kiss on the cheek, an awkward sex scene is triggered. Both Jake and the woman are fully clothed and the poor animation makes it very uncomfortable to watch.
To make matters worse, at multiple points during the story mode, the game contains awkward silences. The lack of ambience makes you question whether you’ve accidentally pressed the mute button on the remote, when it’s actually a major fault on the development front.