Retro City Rampage Review
After what seemed like an eternity of development time, the one-man made Retro City Rampage is finally downloadable on the PC, PS3, and PS Vita (with an Xbox 360 and Wii release coming very soon). Whereas most games these days rely on fancy graphics, Retro City Rampage doesn’t bother with any of that nonsense, taking us back in time with a completely retro style. Combined with classic Grand Theft Auto-style gameplay and mixed with a yacht-load of pop culture references, it’s sure to make any gamer or movie-buff happy.
What I Liked
It’s Old School Mixed With New School
As you can clearly see, the game looks like it came straight out of the 80′s or 90′s with its classic visual style. The game’s music backs that fact up, but it mixes current generation mechanics and features to make everything better. Cross Save (transfer saves) and Cross Buy (1 purchase gets you both) is available between the PS3 and PS Vita versions, there’s a cover mechanic, trophies, leaderboards, and the driving is done in a very fluid way.
I don’t know if I could really say there’s a story because it’s so over-the-top and convoluted at times, but you’ll always want to see what happens next. Without ruining too much (this all happens within the first 20 minutes), I can say that you start the game by robbing a bank, then cross the street Frogger-style, then jump into a Mario-type sewer, then fall asleep and dream of rampaging a tank through the city, then travel to the future in a car and meet Doc Choc, and even meet a spoof of Solid Snake.
With this just happening in the first little bit of the game, I’ll leave it up to you to imagine where the story goes from there, but lets just say it pretty much goes everywhere, even into Zelda territory.
It Was Made With Love
Yeah, I never thought I’d use that title ever, but there’s no other way to put it. Being that Brian Provinciano was the only one developing this game, he treated it like his baby. Retro City Rampage runs as smooth as butter, with no slowdown or hiccups throughout the entire 8+ hour campaign, meaning that a lot of work was put into making sure there were no issues.
Taking this notion one step further, every block is littered with hilarious street signs and store names to look at as you run over hundreds of innocent civilians. The amount of customization is absolutely through the roof (I played most of the game with a Master Chief helmet), and you can even enter into Free Roam Mode dressed as a multitude of different real life people and game characters.
If that isn’t enough, you can spend money in the Arcade to play modified versions of games like Super Meat Boy, there’s a tonne of side missions and challenges to complete, and lots of hidden secrets for those who inspect every piece of Theftropolis.
As you play through Retro City Rampage, the care and attention to detail that went into the game just pours out, which is something that doesn’t happen very often.
What I Didn’t Like
It’s A Twin Stick Shooter Without Full 360 Degree Control
Other twin stick shooters on the market give you full 360 degree control over your shots. Now, this is probably due to the old school nature, but I didn’t like the fact that your shots are so imprecise and it leads to a lot of deaths. Sure, you can stomp on enemies Mario-style if they ever become too much of a problem, it just would have been nice to have better control over your bullets and rockets.
Missions Types Rarely Vary
Though there are a lot of missions, many insane premises surrounding them, the actual playable mission types rarely varies throughout the game. I’d say that more than half of them have you taking the Player to designated point A, collecting an item, then taking it to designated point B.
Now, like I said above, there’s a lot to do within Retro City Rampage other than the main story, but if you ever just play through the campaign in one straight shot, you’ll really start to notice the repetition, which does start to weigh on you quite heavily.
A Few Missions Are Frustratingly Difficult
I’m not ashamed to admit that I died over 150 times in Retro City Rampage before I reached the end, but over 100 of those deaths came from just a handful of missions. One in particular has you destroying 20 cars with dynamite. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong.
Despite being able to hold down square or the analog stick longer to create more distance, you’ll still have a very limited throwing radius and if you aren’t careful, you’ll blow yourself up in one go. If you manage to avoid killing yourself and throw your stick at a car, there’s a good chance the car will fly at you, killing you in one hit.
Even if both of those are avoided, the cop cars (complete with their annoyingly constant siren noise) will come rampaging after you with just one toss of dynamite. So not only do you have to catch up to moving cars and hit them with dynamite, you have to dodge swarms of cops shooting at you and cars trying to ram into you. This mission was extremely frustrating and it isn’t the only one, but it is the one that stood out the most. With a patch or two though, this mission and the few others that are filled with death can be made more accessible, but as of right now, they’re low points on the fun meter.
If you’re old enough to remember that the Grand Theft Auto franchise was a top down experience before it was the 3D sales behemoth it is now, Retro City Rampage is definitely something you need to download. It is an excellent throwback to classic games, complete with over-the-top action and a huge amount of content to keep you coming back for a long time.
Retro City Rampage was reviewed with a copy provided by VBlank Entertainment.