Whether intentional or not, it’s hard not to compare the classic racer Road Rash to the recently released Road Rage by Maximum Games. It seems to check all the boxes: cool weapons, a variety of motorcycles, badass characters and a seemingly open world. Sadly, everything doesn’t quite gel together as it should, mostly due to technical issues. It won’t take long to see that Road Rage needs a lot more polish, whether it be in the form of hit detection or simply keeping the entire game from crashing. Most reviewers and critics were quick to label Road Rage one of the worst games of the year, but is it really that bad? The results of this driver’s test may surprise you.
There is a story in Road Rage, but you honestly won’t care much about it. Basically, the entire city is divided into areas and ruled by a specific motorcycle gang. Your character will accept story missions over the phone, completing them will eventually grant you access to the other areas of the city. Missions are usually one of a few standard types: circuit and arcade race, elimination, escape the police, knockout (fight during a race), assassination (kill specific targets), time trial and stunt races. I commend the developers for including a nice variety of race types, and you will quickly find ones you enjoy and others you loathe. I personally can’t stand knockout races because I always run out of time. Some races require you to knockout 10 riders in three minutes, but the hit detection is so bad that this becomes a real chore. Circuit and arcade races were enjoyable and easy to complete, while escaping the police just felt broken every time.
Completing these story and optional missions earns you cash and allows you to unlock a bunch of goodies in the clubhouse. Players can choose how they want to spend their money, whether it be on new motorcycles, weapons, customization parts or upgrades. There is a nice variety of weapons such as: golf club, hockey stick, axe, crowbar and more…but they all felt the same during gameplay. Swinging any weapon precisely requires exact timing, otherwise you will miss or leave yourself open to an attack from an enemy. The variety continues with a surprising 18 main characters to choose from, both men and women, which are unlocked as you progress. Players can choose from 12 different motorcycles with varying stats, certain missions will require you to own a specific bike, so you cannot just stick to one. Purchase different parts, change the colors to your hearts desire or upgrade them for better speed, acceleration, braking and more. The optional missions never disappear, meaning you are free to replay them and keep collecting monetary rewards. The variety of weapons, characters and bikes are a real highlight of Road Rage.
The racing in general feels pretty good and functional most of the time. There is a distinct feel to each bike, and you will quickly find one that fits your style. The main issues with Road Rage are technical, and there are a lot of them. Your rider will get stuck in or to the environments or fall through the floor entirely. Hitting another rider while alongside them is very difficult due to poor detection. The framerate can get incredibly slow. The game is known to randomly kick you out to the dashboard, sometimes losing major progress. The soundtrack is a typical generic rock playlist that I quickly muted. And lastly, the game is overpriced at $30 USD which makes these issues even more unforgiveable. I can see a $5 or $10 game will silly technical problems, kinda like Goat Simulator, but none of these are really intended in Road Rage. It gives me an overwhelming feel of a developer whose ambitions outweighed their coding skills. Rounding out Road Rage is a 2-player local splitscreen mode and 4-player online, but good luck finding a match.
Graphically, Road Rage looks dated and unimpressive for the most part. The whole map is a decent size, with various landmarks like the airport, bridges and homes with destructible fences. There is a handy mini-map that makes navigation a breeze, although I would have loved the option to add waypoints. When you look at the whole map, its very easy for the player marker to blend in with the background and confuse the player. The entire city lacks liveliness; sure, there are random cars driving and pedestrians, but their likeness is repeated constantly. I already mentioned my dislike of the soundtrack and while the initial loading time can be long, loads between events are mostly just a few seconds.
Despite its flaws, there is some enjoyment to be had playing Road Rage. There is a nice variety of race modes to keep things interesting and I kept chugging through the story mode until an overtly difficult mission stonewalled me. It’s best to not take things too seriously from the beginning and set low expectations; as there is not enough freedom to warrant an open world setting. Despite the many faults, I did find some allure in trying to overcome the difficult missions that caused me much frustration. In the end, if you must play Road Rage, my advice is to wait for an inevitable sale.
A press copy of Road Rage was provided by Maximum Games for the purpose of this review.