Ride to Hell: Retribution
Microsoft Xbox 360Also available on PC and Sony PlayStation 3
Nothing illustrates the true quality of a product better than a montage. In a bizarre opening sequence Ride to Hell: Retribution randomly flicks across upcoming segments of gameplay displaying its full glory to the player. It is atrocious in every way. Broken, creepy and downright terrible. Ride to Hell: Retribution is so very very bad that words cannot justify the experience. Instead a written montage of the horrific events witnessed may suit our critical purpose.
Scene one: Our rugged anti-hero Jake enters the frame on his trusty motorcycle. It glides along the surface like a bobsleigh, bouncing off fences, trees and cars like a rubber ball. With a grim look on his awfully modelled chagrin face he stares into the distance aiming to catch his escaping enemy. He wants retribution for a biker gang slaughtering his brother in cold blood and nothing will stand in his way. Suddenly a bike appears from a mystical void to the side of the frame. It latches on as if magnetised to Jake’s own motorcycle and the two riders battle it out in a tedious quick time event, one that Jake knows is almost impossible to lose. The enemy’s bike skids off to the side and explodes randomly. Jake rides on, deciding to show off by jumping ramps and performing infinitely long powerslides under tankers. Without warning or reason his bike also explodes, flinging Jake off into the asphalt. A hideous failed sign splashes on the screen, somehow looking suspiciously like the pause screen. Sigh.
Moving on to our second scene, we find Jake dismounted from his beastly engine and strolling through the side streets of a deserted suburb. He’s looking for blood. Though it is clear the direction he must head to reach his murderous goal, he decides to wander from the path and explore the ugly theme-park-esque fake Western fronted houses. Instantly angular text rears up onto the screen informing him that further straying will result in a failure. He pushes on regardless. Sigh.
In our third shot, Jake has managed to get into a brawl with a disturbing skinhead with whom he disagreed. The disagreement was over this miscreant trying to rape a young woman in a seedy unlit carpark. It is a battle of fisticuffs, reminiscent of that time he tried to be Batman. It is a pale imitation of the caped crusader however with crude mechanics and sloppy timing. After a few cracks to the head Jake’s foe stumbles, finishing him off with another unavoidable quick time event the man slumps to the ground defeated. Jake spins on his heels to face the woman, still clearly in shock, and gives her his award-winning smile. Fade to black...
…The fourth scene rises out of the darkness, displaying our hero of the hour Jake fondling this denim clad woman’s breasts in a bedroom that has been summoned from nowhere. They jiggle around in unison with Jake’s rhythmic pumping; hair and what little clothes they still wear glitching through their bodies like a filthy knife through butter. This disturbing scene ends at a grunting climax and suddenly Jake finds himself deposited back in the carpark, as if the whole event had been a peculiarly vivid wet dream.
The fifth clip in this increasingly disturbing montage shows Jake at it again. This time he’s got his hands on a female mechanic whom he helped out by beating up her husband. He was clearly scum, and the lady is keen to repay the favour. Again, Jake is fondling away and their bodies flow in sexual harmony. She’s still in her mechanic’s overalls however and the whole scene is taking on a strange fetish form. Fade to black, please please fade to black...
Our thankfully final scene displays Jake in an element as yet unseen. He has a gun in his hand and he is not afraid to use it. Bullets are flying from all directions, pinging off the cover Jake hides behind. It reminds him of that time he attempted Grand Theft Auto, but somehow events led to a disappointingly boring display of men flinging shots from behind chest-high walls. Enemies are running around the firefight like soon-to-be-headless chickens, perhaps attempting to perform a clever flanking procedure. Instead they find themselves standing completely in the open, willing to have a bullet lodged in their skull. At this point one can understand their predicament.
Jake runs around clumsily as if possessed by a spirit struggling to come to terms with horrendous controls. He lopes towards an open doorway hoping to find fresh cover, and to take time to miraculously heal from his many gaping wounds. He hits the open doorway and bounces backwards. He screams, hammering on an invisible wall, willing to pull the forces of nature back into reality. Yet not even the guttural cries of our rugged hero can make the doors of this solid transparent portal open. He drops to his knees crying, his enemies jerkily closing in from behind. This mission is a failure. This game is a failure.
We do not need to see any more. No one needs to see any more, just as no one needs to play this game. Ride to Hell: Retribution is close to being so very bad that it is good, but it is such a completely hellish failure that it cannot even reach such heights. It gets virtually every component that makes a computer game enjoyable, right down to the core mechanics, completely wrong, and then it follows it up with a barely legal storyline and aesthetics so bland it is nauseating. Some basic research shows that this game has had a horrendous development cycle, filled with harsh changes and cancellations which could be offered up as excuses, but for everyone involved this should have been left to rot in hell without any form of retribution. Let’s leave it with Jake’s own words, spoken as if holding up a mirror to his own life: “Swear to god - I’d rather be polishing boots than sit through this crap.”