You would be forgiven for thinking that Road Rage is a spiritual successor to Road Rash – the 90s cult classic motorbike brawler series from EA which many folks have been long wishing would make a return – wishes that have fallen on deaf ears, microtransactions and loot boxes. While Team6 and Maximum Games’ effort does draw inspiration from EA’s originator, there is no catharsis here; there is no scratching of any itch. Road Rage plain and simple is a bad game; it’s a skid mark on the Road Rash name and any further comparison should be a criminal offence.
Road Rage sees the player take control of either a male or female protagonist in their attempts to rise through the ranks of the local biker gangs that control the shithole open-world city of Ashen. Ashen is made up of seven districts (all with creative names such as Subtroit, Downtown and Farmlands), all of which were sectioned off after the event known as Day One, where the people of Ashen rioted against the multinationals. Now, the Ashen populous live out their days in their designated district, unable to venture beyond the wall containing them in fear of the biker gangs that have an iron grip on the city and its authorities. It is up to you to infiltrate the gangs and take down the big kahuna and liberate Ashen from villainy.
Ashen roadside chainsaw massacre
You’d think that being a racer the developer would have at least made sure that driving and handling was somewhat adequate, but like most aspects of Road Rage the handling of your bike is awful. All of the various bike types are almost impossible to turn corners at speed, and attempting to do so usually results in a comical crash animation. If you persevere long enough you can learn to handbrake around corners by using the X button on PS4 (an odd decision), but even that is a chook raffle as to whether you make it around the corner alive. Making the driving even more of a game of Russian roulette is just how broken the hit detection is. You can hit an oncoming car at top speed and be catapulted into the air before landing on your two wheels like a member of Nitro Circus or you can scratch a wall and explode and burst into flames. Sometimes you can respawn and simply fall over and explode while other times you can simply drive through buildings and other vehicles as if you’re Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider.
The shoddy hit detection extends to the game’s combat. You can line up a sweet takedown with one of many melee weapons at your disposal (chains, batons, swords and guns) only for the AI opponent to ride off unharmed, while the rider next to you attacks you and appears to miss you but ends up smoking your arse. This is if you can get close enough to engage in combat without touching motorbikes and spontaneously bursting into flames, which is usually how these engagements end up going down.
Missions and correspondence are received via your smartphone and accompanied by some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard
The respawn system is another broken mechanic. If you happen to kamikaze into a wall at high speed, more than likely you’ll respawn facing the wall or the item you hit (parked car etc.). Sometimes you’ll respawn facing the opposite direction as to where you need to go and if you’re lucky to have perished inside a tunnel, chances are you’ll respawn on the road above the tunnel or somewhere else on the map where you cannot make it back onto the road meaning you’ll need to restart. Other times you won’t respawn at all, you’ll just lie there like road kill arms flailing about like a wacky waving inflatable arm-flailing tubeman and be forced to restart.
Missions and correspondence are received via your smartphone and accompanied by some of the worst voice acting I have ever heard. Making matters worse is that the same bloke does multiple voices with little variation; in fact a lot of time it sounds like he’s talking to himself. The female voice acting isn’t as horrendous as the male counterparts, but it’s still far from good. In the voice actors’ defence they are working with some of the worst writing ever seen in a video game. I mean with lines like, “My girl is in Subtroit, and nobody can compete with her. But know that I really like you, you’re cool. I won’t forget you anytime soon. But for now, I gotta blaze!”, I’m not sure even Troy Baker could polish this turd.
Don’t like someone? Hit them with your chain, seems only fair
To progress the story you must complete missions, which can be your standard or elimination race, a sprint to a particular location before the timer runs out, as well as takedown and assassination races (where you need to kill a set number of targets in the allocated time). The assassination races in particular can be a frustrating affair given the AI drives like it’s slammed a slab of beer before getting behind the wheel. One minute you’ll be tailgating your victim only for them to crash and burn and respawn somewhere else on the map. Other modes include evading police and a skill mode which requires you get enough airtime or hold a wheelie for a set period of time.
The mission objective and the actual event you complete rarely match up. For example, in one mission you’re asked to deliver and detonate some bombs, but the event you do is merely a time trial race. Completing the story missions will see you go from district to district, and once you unlock a new district a slew of side missions become available in the current district, although these are largely rehashed main missions. Making this a bit of grind is the fact that despite being an open world game, you cannot place markers or fast travel anywhere.
For those brave enough to persist with Road Rage and show it to your mates, there is a local split-screen mode included which would provide some hilarious moments and be a cracking drinking game.
Cash earned from main and side missions can be used in the clubhouse to purchase new motorbikes and weapons or to upgrade your bike as some missions require specific bikes and upgrade amounts to access. You can also select your character in the clubhouse too, choosing between a handful of different riders to vicariously live out your Ashen nightmare through.
Given the game’s low budget, it’s not surprising that the visuals look rather dated. It looks like a title that would have been considered top-notch on the PS2, alas on the PS4 it looks tawdry and suffers from frequent texture and asset pop-ins. You can be driving along the road and all of a sudden a car will drop from the sky and plant itself directly in your path, and you’ve no choice but to accept its sweet embrace and crash into it. The low budget extends to the game’s soundtrack too, however the six or seven tracks that are on here are possibly the game’s highlight. The playlist is a mix of metal and electronic, with one song in particular sounding almost identical to an iconic song by The Prodigy.
You can do sick wheelies, like take a look, how sick is that?
Road Rage is an utter disaster. Even after the year-long delay the game still shipped in a sorry and sad state. Everything about Road Rage is either broken or awful, almost in a fun and comical way. The only saving grace here is that the publishers have priced this somewhat accordingly compared to its other bombs and you’ve only wasted $30 AUD (plus shipping if you import it) or $48 AUD if you bought it digitally. If you’re looking for a modern day Road Rash then check out the recently fully released Road Redemption. Better yet, buy yourself a PS1 and Road Rash, you can’t go wrong there.
Reviewed on PS4 Pro