Reviews

R.I.P.D. The Game – Review

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Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Developer: Old School Games
Publisher: Atlus
Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes

Just three months ago the very developers of R.I.P.D, Old School Games, released their first ever title, God Mode. It was a “Horde” style shooter in which you and up to three other players took on waves of enemies as you progressed through each level, picking up power-ups and collecting cash with which to buy upgrades and new gear. It was a simple premise that had some fun moments, but was also heavily flawed. Now, just three months later the Old School Games have somehow managed to create and release another game. As far as I’m ware they’re a small studio with a fairly limited staff, so just how did they manage to pull this one off?

As it turns out the answer is simple: those cheeky bastards literally just reskinned God Mode and called it a day, shamelessly cashing in by creating a movie tie-in that’s lazy even by  movie tie-in standards. I wish I was joking, but that is quite honestly what they’ve done. They’ve changed a few models,  added a couple of things in and then tossed it out the door with a ‘finished’ sticker. Even more annoying is that they’ve failed miserably to fix God Mode’s problems, removed quite a few of God Mode’s only worthwhile features and added in a couple of things that actively make R.I.P.D. worse, resulting in a title that’s actually more boring than God Mode was.

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And yet I can’t just judge the game solely by the fact that the developers created it by rehashing their previous game and hoping nobody would notice, no matter how much I want to. No, I need to get into the nitty-gritty and explain exactly why, other than the reason already stated, you shouldn’t spend your hard-earned cash on this game. However, on the other hand you’re also going to see quite a lot of comparison between this title and God Mode in this review, for very good reason.

In case you were not aware R.I.P.D. The Videogame is based upon the film, which is also called R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department)  starring Ryan Reynolds and Roy Pulsipher. When Ryan Reynolds character is killed in the line of duty his soul is intercepted on the way to its eternal rest and sent back to Earth to join a special department which deals in hunting down souls (known as Deados) that are refusing to move on. It’s a cool premise and one that could have been used to make a pretty awesome videogame, by creating, for example, a blend of detective work and cover-based shooting. And yet R.I.P.D. The Videogame ignores the films storyline entirely, not in favor of creating its own, you understand, but in favor of having none at all. The only ties between the videogame and the film is that is has characters modelled after the actors. That’s it. This ties in with the film in only the loosest sense possible, not even bothering to try to get soundalikes in to voice the two main characters, instead opting to have them completely mute.

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The first thing to note is that God Mode’s 4-player co-op has gone, replaced by a weaker 2-player co-op due to the films constraints. Both of the two selectable characters play exactly the same as each other, and all of the visual customisation that God Mode had, which was actually quite substantial,  has also vanished into the mists of time, again thanks to the limitations of working within an official license which clearly did not allow for the look of the two movie characters to be changed. But while aesthetic customisation has gone out of the window your ability to purchase new weapons and upgrade them is still intact. Your starting selection of just three weapons all feel rather weak and useless against the enemy hordes attempting to  introduce your face to all sorts of painful objects, and actual useful weapons and upgrades have steep asking prices that can even reach into the six-digits, a rather daunting number when you consider that you only earn a few thousand per game you play, ensuring that you’re driven utterly insane by time you ever manage to get some of the more interesting gear, assuming you didn’t just switch the game off in the first hour or commit suicide. What’s more ion order to earn any cash at all you absolutely have to defeat all five waves of enemies, which can take around 20-40 minutes at a time. There’s no consolation prize for making it to wave 4 and then dying.

Once you’ve kitted out your chosen bloke it’s on to the action. R.I.P.D. features a grand total of 7 levels to choose from. And once again I need to stop and make some comparisons, because this is another moment where some of God Mode’s better ideas have been removed, in the process creating a considerably less enjoyable game. God Mode was a fairly pretty game with some great levels that featured cool backdrops inspired by its mythical theme, but with the R.I.P.D. license firmly latched  to the developers spines those lovely locations have been replaced by ugly, bland levels set in warehouses and the like that feature heavily the colors brown and grey. Another feature of God Mode that has sadly not made it into R.I.P.D. is the progressive levels. In God Mode you worked your way through a series of areas that together made up the entire vast level, which helped keep things interesting as you were always making progress and seeing cool new things going on in the background, acting as a lovely distraction from the axe away to be embedded in your face. In R.I.P.D. you’re stuck to just one small area per level that feels almost claustrophobic, barely giving any room to maneuver around. Nor are these limited levels very well designed, managing to be classified as passable and nothing more, serving their purpose in a dreary fashion.

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The actual moment to moment gunplay of R.I.P.D. is rather unsatisfying thanks to clumsy aiming, unresponsive controls and a slow default movement speed which makes dispatching foes less a dance of death and more a very slow amble of death. In a game like this where there’s no cover system and absolutely zero room to breath due to the sheer amount of enemies bearing down upon you a quick default movement and responsive controls are a must so that you can weave through the battle, dispatching foes as you go and even allowing skilled players to manipulate baddies so that they end up shooting one another. Like God Mode before R.I.P.D. simply does  not have that, and the slow movement means that dealing with the enemy essentially just boils down you to backpedaling furiously while you hold down the trigger, although the smaller maps make this a bit more awkward as you’ll end up bumping into a lot of things in the process.

In an attempt to be somewhat fair to R.I.P.D. a bit of tweaking in the settings menu can make combat flow a little bit better, but it’s still pretty damn bad.

There’s a handful of enemies types to combat, but the AI is so bloody stupid that it’s hard to take any pleasure in their virtual slaughter. Maybe the ‘Deados” are supposed to act like that, but that doesn’t in any way make battling them fun. Oddly enough each progressive wave of enemies doesn’t actually seem to be any more difficult than the previous one, either, making something of a mockery of the entire concept.

The dodge mechanic does seem to have been improved just a little since God Mode so that it’s now  just sort of useless instead of utterly useless, but the melee attack is still irritating thanks to your character coming to a complete halt to deliver the slowest blow in history, a blow that often fails to connect with the enemy anyway. Combat quickly becomes a tedious, monotonous mess and is only made vaguely entertaining by the presence of a friend, assuming you’ve got one willing to play with you. If you’re own your own then you’ll probably play a few games at most and then quit forever. At least God Mode’s combat was somewhat enjoyable thanks to a good variety of interesting enemy types to battle against, as well as the inclusion of modifiers that activated in every new area which altered the way the game played, doing things like. Again, R.I.P.D. disappoints by ditching these modifiers in favor of challenges which appear during play, but these don’t alter the gameplay very much at all and just aren’t as enjoyable

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R.I.P.D. does at least attempt to differ from God Mode in one way with the introduction of Killstreaks, earned by successfully riddling foes with bullets. A meter fills up at the top of your screen as you do so, indicating which of the five different rewards you’ve currently got access to, with abilities ranging from being able to drop a healing zone to magical chains tying some enemies up so that you can shoot them.  The problem is almost all of the abilities are  bloody useless, with only the deployable turret actually feeling effective against the enemy, although even that was inconsistent because several times it failed to deploy properly while I was playing.

There’s also a betting system thrown in to the mix where you and your fellow gamer can bet against each other, like who is going to kill the most enemies. It’s mildly amusing the first time you use it, and then the novelty wears off.

Finally I’ve got to talk about the game’s audio design, which is terrible. There’s some of the most generic music known to mankind thrown in, but the real sin here is that weapons are so incredibly quiet that they’re almost drowned out by everything else. You can stand a few feet from an enemy as he unloads his gun into you and barely hear it’s muffled bangs. The rest of the audio is almost as bad. And there’s also an annoying glitch where enemies are completely mute until they get close to you, which did at least create a few moments of stupidity where I watched a Deado blasting at a wall with a shotgun in complete silence.

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R.I.P.D. The Videogame has absolutely no good qualities that I can ascertain, and I’m honestly disgusted with the fact that Old School Games had the audacity to reskin God Mode and release it in this guise. God Mode may not have been a great title, but it was a solid start and I looked forward to seeing what the future held for Old School Games, but this game has ripped away any and all respect for the developers that I had, leaving me feeling saddened by their actions. I hope I’m wrong. I hope that somehow R.I.P.D was actually in development before God Mode, but even that would still not justify why R.I.P.D. is so damn similiar too it, or why it’s actually a considerable worse game.

As for you, dear reader, I will be completely honest with you: I didn’t play very much of R.I.P.D, my time with it perhaps totalling a few hours. I know, I know, as a self-proclaimed reviewer I should sink considerable time into every title I’m reviewing, and normally I do, but in this case I honestly didn’t want to play any more and couldn’t bring myself to do it. There are other games I’ve got in for review at the moment, and ever moment spent subjecting myself to R.I.P.D. was one less moment spent playing those far more worthy titles.

The only reason I’m awarding this game the score you see at the bottom of the screen is because it actually works. It’s playable, and I feel that the only time I’d be able to aware an actual score of zero is when the game physically doesn’t work, perhaps simply crashing at the start menu or maybe setting fire to my console. R.I.P.D. is playable, it’s just that there’s no reason to.

The Good:
+ Um. It works?
+ The two main character models sort of look like the guys from the film. Sort of.

The Bad:
– It exists.
– It’s God Mode in a crappy disguise.
– It’s just awful.

The Verdict: 1/5 – Awful.
Don’t buy this game. It’s that simple. Even by officially licensed videogame standards, this is bloody terrible.

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