Published on August 8th, 2014 | by David Guild0
Preview: Road Redemption (Alpha)
Throughout the years we have seen some classic titles released on our consoles which have been so fantastic that in the present you wonder where the hell are those games?! Desert Strike, X-Wing Vs Tie Fighter, Battletoads, Lotus Turbo Challenge and lastly Road Rash; these are just a few of the best titles my generation has seen from those days. That handful of games did pretty well, good reviews, sold well and fans keep wanting to see them again so where are they?
Well what if I told you that two of those games have had a bunch of sequels that made their way on to the N64, Saturn and the PlayStation? Desert Strike has 4 sequels and another which converted to another title. Did you know that Future Cop LAPD was going to be a Strike game? You sir/madam have now been educated. I actually enjoyed the later titles but they didn’t capture the same magic as Jungle and Desert Strike.
Another game from the list and what we will be primary speaking about today is Road Rash. The first 3 games were pretty excellent and have fond memories of playing those games with my buddies on the old Amiga, though I have re-bought the game for the Mega Drive. Well that series made its way on to the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation and I’m sorry to say, they were rubbish! So bad that they’ve either been erased from your mind or you just never heard of them as they never got the same love. The series moved away from sprites and tried hard to be a 3D game. Road Rash 3D even focused more on the racing than the combat exchanged between riders. What gives?! The game didn’t head down the correct path and was last seen in 2003 I think in which Road Rash Jailbreak made its way to the Game Boy Advance which is sitting at a score of 67% on Metacritic.
Fast forward time to 2009 to when a wee group of guys started work on a new title but it wasn’t until 2012 when that work started to take shape. Darkseas Games were creating a beast which would make all of the old retro fanboys like myself go a little crazy with joy because they too were fans of the old Road Rash games and wanted to see it return, but instead of waiting for EA or some other developer to create it, they started working on… Road Redemption!
Road Redemption is what you call a spiritual successor; the game doesn’t have much ties with the original game. Think of it as a love letter. With today’s technology, they can do what EA tried to do back on the PlayStation and N64 but get far better results. So with Road Rash laying the foundation for Road Redemption, the chaps at Darkseas are building their own game with a hint of crazy.
Though with no publisher getting funding to finish off the game, it was getting harder so they tried this new craze of crowdfunding back in 2013 in which they asked for $160,000 to help finish their game and get it released. This was a good way to test the water on the interest of the game and the possibility of it coming to consoles. On May 12th, not only did DarkSeas Games get their $160,000, they went on to get $173,803 which helped the game get towards its stretch goals of making it to the Xbox 360. The cash didn’t stop there though, they also allowed PayPal contributions which shot the total to $182,000! This means that Road Redemption will be seeing some love on the XBLA, but this all depends on Microsoft giving them the green light.
So all looked good for Darkseas Games; their Kickstarter got funded, they met one of their stretch goals, and it was time to get down to the nitty and gritty of finishing off the game. But we aren’t here to see this long winded story of a wee development team breaking the odds, are we? No, we are here to talk about the game, which I played on PC. Hopefully most will know that the Alpha version of the game is available on their website to buy or on the Humble Store that, if you are happy to pay for an early version, will get you the game, access to all future builds along with the final version and a Steam key upon release. Along with a review key from the lovely chaps at Darkseas Games, I have happily spent money getting a few copies of the game to give to my friends who were big Road Rash fans as after playing the Alpha, I had the biggest smile on my face that couldn’t be removed for some time.
While the game has a few glitches and bugs, I can’t really complain about them due to it being in Alpha state. When I get some Let’s Plays up you may notice a few but this isn’t the final version and none of it spoiled the gameplay for me.
No story has been included in the Alpha version of the game but on the Kickstarter it does include one which you play a recently paroled felon and after serving 8 years in federal prison, you must work your way up through the ranks of the old motorcycle club. Though the club isn’t what it used to be and there is a power struggle, so you need fight for your survival and the right to rule.
I played the stages with my Xbox 360 pad which was prefect for the job; the controls are easy to learn though I wasn’t keen on the turbo button. To initiate the turbo you have to double tap the right trigger which is your acceleration. Most of the time I got it with ease but I would have preferred it on another button. With the array of buttons available, you are able to choose if you wish to attack to the left or right, plus you have the ability to kick riders away. If one of the riders wants to take a shot at you, the deflect button will come in handy to stop you from getting knocked off your bike. Plus in this day and age, one weapon is never enough now, is it? By using the d-pad on the controller, you are able to switch between the weapons that you have gained.
To gain such an array of weapons is quite easy, just knock a player off of their bike and it’s yours. The weapons include your standard baseball bats and hammers, to samurai swords and pipe bombs. Plus we can’t forget my personal favourite for just being evil… the C4 that can stick to everything; fellow bikers and even innocent nearby cars. Senseless violence is back where it belongs!
While the Alpha has a few modes, the good old Race and Elimination modes are probably the best of the lot. I prefer to have exciting races to the finish line and making sure anyone who crosses my path will taste tarmac… or dirt depending on the driving surface. Other types, like Survival, are just balls to the wall crazy; the first couple of stages of it started with traffic just wanting to ram you with the later stages involving WTF moments where traffic is raining from the sky, trucks and cars are falling, rolling and exploding in mayhem which does create some “WOAH!” moments with near misses such as trucks rolling over and bursting into flames for you just to make it under by the skin of your teeth. I don’t think that kind of event will make it into the story mode but surely into the “Hell, why not?” option.
The gameplay is rock solid in that the bike control is fantastic and if this is just the alpha, I can’t wait to see it being refined for the full release. The faster you go, the less the bike will be able to steer and with motion blur starting to take effect. The level design is pretty basic but yet again all I can say is ‘Alpha’; it’s mostly showing off the gameplay and what it can do. I won’t be able to go into full detail of the environment which is still pretty to look at but needs and probably will get some TLC in the textures department, though the bikes do look pretty sweet.
The AI seems clever enough to try and dodge my blows and is able to avoid cars when I kick them in to oncoming traffic, though you will see some bugs were other vehicles will try and play bumper cars with each other.
The best thing this game offers is the 4 player local co-op. That to me is a gift worth getting teary eyed about. Most games have forgotten the days of the local players who want to eat pizza together and have a massive gaming session, and yes, at the moment this is a PC title but it isn’t hard to connect a system to a big TV and play the game even in its early state.
Of course no game is prefect and here are some of the things I would like to see improved in the final release; camera and tutorial. The camera system is quite annoying and seems to float about at times and trying to place it back to centre view is a mission on its own. Plus the tutorial bugs me quite a bit where it will interrupt your gameplay even though you have seen it before. Again this is just teething issues which will get fixed along with the ugly menu system. Plus I hope they update the alpha version to select a stage, as I’m fed up having to go through each race in order to play a certain stage. It would have been lovely to have had a stage selection option.
In the end, the game just makes me smile from ear to ear with the bang up job they have done so far. While the story mode will be over looked, it doesn’t matter as with the old Road Rash games and with today’s Road Redemption, it will be about the gameplay and the multiplayer. With a long list of weapons to have fun with and the upcoming mission types we will see in the final version, like Convoy Assault, it just looks fun. So go to the Kickstarter page to see what Darkseas has planned for the final version and over to the official website to check out the dev blog in which they speak about the weapons, game modes and enemy types so far along with some technical information on the physicals involved, I just wish they updated it more than they do!
So do I recommend this game? Hell yes! It will make the older generation of gamers laugh and remember the fun times when EA weren’t all that bad and the newer generation will just love the endless violence with their friends. Do I recommend getting the game now in its current state? Why not, there is no sign that this game will be going anywhere and I think they are aiming for an October release on Steam. I’m not sure if that is Early Access or the full release but for £20 on Humble, you will get the full on release and some fun up until it comes out.
I would like to thank Darkseas Games for the alpha code and apologise for the delay in this preview but congrats on a terrific game!