Road Rage is an arcade motorbike racing game available from retail stores and for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Road Rage aims to reinvigorate the arcade motorbike racing genre which remains in the essence of the classic retro Road Rash series which originated on the SEGA Mega Drive in 1991 before receiving an Amiga port in 1992, although immediate Road Rash sequels Road Rash 2 and 3 were initially released exclusively for SEGA Mega Drive in 1992 and 1995 respectively before the SEGA Mega Drive Road Rash trilogy was eventually ported to PSP as part of the EA Replay collection in 2006. However, enhanced versions of Road Rash were released on various platforms such as 3DO in 1994 which was one of the first games to feature licensed music from established recording artists such as SoundGarden; making for one of the greatest videogame soundtracks in the history of videogames, while Road Rash 3D on PlayStation released in 1998 with a focus on improved track design and 3D visuals, alongside Road Rash 64 on Nintendo 64 in 1999 which reworked Road Rash 3D to include a range of local multiplayer modes and different graphics. Road Rash: Jailbreak released on PlayStation in 2000 featuring a licensed music soundtrack and local multiplayer with a later port to Game Boy Advance in 2003. Team 6 Game Studio was founded in 2001, going onto develop over 80 games throughout a multitude of platforms including Flatout: Stuntman on Android and iOS as well as Monster Jam: Battlegrounds and Monster Jam: Crush It on home consoles. Has the development team at Team 6 Game Studio successfully revived the classic arcade motorbike racing gameplay of the Road Rash franchise in all but name?
The story revolves around anarchy taking place in a fictional city named Ashen in which gangs now rule the road; therefore controlling what is happening in the city. Story progression is facilitated through numerous written and spoken mobile phone conversations which results in your next story driven mission.
There are 9 event types in single player including knockout which tasks the player to take down the specified amount of riders within the given time limit; time trial sees the player needing to reach the finish line before time expires; elimination reduces the field of riders by one at the end of every lap until only one rider remains as the winner; stunt requires a particular amount of jumps, near-misses and wheelies to be performed within the time limit; assassination involves finding and taking out marked targets within the time limit; and circuit race contains multiple checkpoints and laps as you race against up to 5 A.I. riders. Further event types include sprint which tasks the player to find the quickest route through each checkpoint within a rather tight time limit; escape involves evading the police by accelerating away from them far enough to hide for long enough before they call off their search for your rider; and arcade which provides a variant on the sprint event type by adding seconds to the time limit from passing through each checkpoint albeit with the added twist of simultaneously racing against 5 A.I. riders.
Some single player missions only allow entry upon specific mission requirements such as owning a particular motorbike and a certain amount of bike upgrades as well as an entry fee. In-game currency is earned by winning race events and achieving objectives within events. Instant missions are race events specifically contained within their respective event type that are immediately accessible after unlocking the race event by successfully completing the corresponding mission.
It would not be a Road Rash themed experience without police chases which Road Rage certainly delivers. In addition to the escape event type; you can instigate a police chase in free-roam by entering a district of Ashen that you are not permitted to enter. Just as in Road Rash; the police are as likely to crash their vehicles as your rider is when racing or trying to evade them which make for some comedic arcade style crashes. There are clever ways of improving your chances of evading the police during police chases including gaining nitrous by performing wheelies.
Your rider starts out with a dirt bike called Mudfear, although there are a further 11 bikes that can be unlocked for purchase through completing missions before being able to purchase a new higher-end motorbike. Every bike has five unique attributes including acceleration, speed, handling, hitpoints and nitrous accompanied by a bike class such as dirt bike, chopper and super street bike.
There are three tiers for every bike upgrade making for a total of 27 bike upgrades including exhaust, engine, jet kits, nitrous, gear kits, tires, suspension, brakes and body; initially costing between $1,000 and $5,000 before increasing in their respective values for the second and third upgrades within each upgrade category.
Bikes can also have their appearance customised including front and rear wheel designs in addition to adjusting the hue, saturation and lightness of rim and spoke colours; body, headlight and gas tank designs; changing the paint type and adjusting the hue, saturation and lightness of each colour within the body’s paint scheme; and selecting a new exhaust which costs anywhere between $100 to $400 for individual components.
In-between race events; your rider is free to explore the open-world city of Ashen comprising of 7 districts including Subtroit, Chitaly, Downtown, Port Hamc, Ruscago Airfield, Forest and Farmlands which have their own unique scenery, while race tracks for every event are situated throughout numerous areas within the 7 districts. Each of the 7 districts of Ashen contains a hidden collectable which will most probably prove rather tough to find given the scale of each district, but that creates an excellent design choice as the collectables urge players to explore the open-world environments as much as possible when free-roaming in-between race events. There are no optional or dynamic weather conditions, although there always seems to be puddles of rain on the roads, while there is a subtle glimpse of a day-night cycle as the sun will not be as bright or the skies become darker.
You begin with a rider named Reef Jackson, although there are a further 17 riders that are gradually unlocked through completing missions. The 12 male riders and 6 female riders that make up the 18 riders all have their own personalities and approaches to doing things in which they play an important part in the unfolding story throughout each area of Ashen.
Your rider starts out with a baseball bat which is just one of 29 weapons which can be unlocked for purchase by completing missions, then purchasing your chosen weapon for upwards of $1,000. Weapons include pipes, swords, axes, sporting apparatus such as a golf club or hockey stick, hammers and guns such as a taser, shotgun and crossbow. Purchased weapons can be cycled through mid-race, therefore allowing players to gradually build a customisable loadout of their preferred melee and gun weaponry.
There is only a single camera angle from a third-person perspective, although it is correctly positioned to provide a view of the action far enough into the distance to distinguish the immediate track up ahead, while also being able to pan the camera around to see where an opposing rider or police vehicle is approaching from in order to block or take evasive action. However, it would have been great to have the choice of a first-person perspective from the rider’s eye view with the dashboard of the bike. There are also no replays which would have been a useful feature to be able to re-watch the race you had just completed from different camera angles.
There are no games within the arcade motorbike racing genre on Vita; therefore Road Rage would have been a perfect fit on Vita as it would have had the entire genre to itself, although there is remote play. Road Rage retains the same quality of graphics, audio and general performance in comparison to the PS4 version. Split-screen multiplayer is displayed in split-screen during remote play, although it would have been much better to have the player using remote play to have their own full Vita screen with the other player having a full television screen. However, the controls are completely unoptimised resulting in accelerating and braking being mapped to the top right and top left of the rear touch pad respectively when it would have been so easy to re-map them to R and L, while switching weapons could have made way by moving to the bottom right and left of the touch screen, alongside looking behind your rider having moved to the bottom right of the rear touch pad. Road Rage is playable and you will be able to win races during remote play, although it is not as refined as it should have been which means players will need a couple of race events in order to adapt to the remote play control scheme.
The controls are mostly appropriately mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme including holding R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to brake or reverse; pressing R1 or L1 to switch to the next or previous weapon respectively; pressing square or O to attack; pressing triangle to engage nitrous; pressing X to use the handbrake although that would have perhaps been better mapped to O with the second attack mapped to X but there are no alternative control schemes; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer your bike; moving the left analogue stick upwards to perform wheelies; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to pan the camera; pressing R3 to look behind your rider; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad displays a large map of your immediate surroundings and the entire city which can be zoomed in or out. There is no vibration from the DualShock 4 controller which is surprising as it realistically could have vibrated when being hit by another rider’s weapon or crashing, alongside a lack of light bar implementation which could have produced a colour to reflect the bike, character or weapon you have chosen and flashing red when having crashed.
Graphically, Road Rage has its moments such as good looking skies, bike models and character models, while achieving a mostly consistent frame rate. However, there are graphical glitches here and there combined with erratic collision detection which results in players not knowing what they can get away with when accidentally making contact with an object, wall or falling into the path of another rider who you have also knocked down from their bike.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, clubhouse menus, instant missions menus, multiplayer menus, options menus and various gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, while the camera can be panned around your rider during the clubhouse menus with the right analogue stick, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch pad. Menu backgrounds focus on your rider sitting on their motorbike in the location that you paused the game, while the clubhouse menus switch to your chosen rider sitting on the modified specification of their motorbike directly outside a motorbike couriers warehouse.
Voice-overs deliberately have a b-movie style delivery which anyone familiar with Road Rash will acknowledge as the voice-over equivalent homage to the live action videos. Sound effects include the grunt of motorbike engines, screeching of the brakes, melee weapons being swung or guns being fired, police sirens and riders or police vehicles crashing. Instead of featuring a licensed rock soundtrack in the style of Road Rash on 3DO; Road Rage contains various instrumental rock riffs which is fitting for its tone. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced motorbike engines, crashes, weaponry being utilised or police sirens.
The trophy list includes 34 trophies with 22 bronze trophies, 5 silver trophies, 6 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. Easier trophies include every bronze trophy for achieving, finishing or purchasing an item for the first time such as the First Place bronze trophy for winning your first circuit race; the Pocket Change bronze trophy for spending your first money; the I Love Customs bronze trophy for buying your first bike part; and the I Want More bronze trophy for upgrading a bike. Harder trophies include the 7 bronze trophies for collecting a collectable located within specific areas and the It’s Over gold trophy for completing every story mission. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 25 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are various difficulty levels that players will encounter within each single player mission with the major differences between easy difficulty and harder difficulty levels being the increased efficiency in the A.I. rider’s consistency in their pace, cornering and handling by not crashing as often and becoming more aggressive as to how often they attack your rider.
Split-screen multiplayer supports 2 to 4 players with between 2 to 4 A.I. riders to flesh out the field to a total of six competitors with performance retaining a mostly consistent frame rate in line with the single player performance. Split-screen multiplayer features two game modes including circuit race and knockout with both modes containing six events per mode, alongside your preferred choice of any motorbike, weapon and rider. Online multiplayer also supports 2 to 4 players in which players can search for a quick online race or create an online lobby with all of the same content from split-screen multiplayer. The limited quantity of game modes and race events in split-screen and online multiplayer is somewhat disappointing in comparison to the 9 game modes and over 90 race events available in single player. There are no online leaderboards which could have displayed the quickest lap times and event completion for every mode and event.
Road Rage’s replayability stems from 9 event types and over 90 missions in single player, police chases, unlockable motorbikes, bike upgrades, weapons and characters and an open-world to explore throughout 7 districts containing a collectable in each, alongside split-screen and online multiplayer for 2 to 4 players across two event types and a total of 12 tracks resulting in many reasons to come back for more.
• Title: Road Rage
• Developer: Team 6 Game Studio
• Publisher: Maximum Games
• System: PS4
• Format: PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: No
• Cross-Play: No
• Players: 1-4 (Split-Screen Multiplayer)/2-4 (Online Competitive Multiplayer)
• Hard Drive Space Required: 3.57GB (Version 1.01 – PS4 Blu-Ray Disc/PSN Download)