STAFF REVIEW of R.I.P.D. The Game (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
by Adam Dileva

R.I.P.D. The Game Box art As any seasoned gamer knows, movie tie-in games are usually the bottom of the barrel for quality, fun, and lasting appeal. Sure, there are a few exceptions to the rule, but they are far and few in between. When a movie based game comes in to review, it’s hard not to judge a book by its cover, but none the less, I go in without any bias and play it for what it is, not what I expect. When R.I.P.D. The Game arrived to review, I actually was curious about it, not only because I want to see the movie, but that it was also developed by Old School Games which I enjoyed their last title, God Mode. Licensed games are usually a death sentence, but I held some hope considering their previous game was enjoyable for what it was. Sadly, the stereotype of bad movie games isn’t avoided here and suffers from a magnitude of issues from the beginning to end.

Based on the movie of the same name, R.I.P.D. is an action based third person shooter that loosely follows the movie’s plotline. I say loosely because they explain the general plot at the beginning of the game (and movie) and that’s about it. From then on you are thrown into an area shooting waves of enemies called “Deados” with no other reason and no other progression in the plot. For those that aren’t familiar with the old comics or seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, R.I.P.D. stands for the Rest In Piece Department and stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) was an outstanding police officer who was shot dead in a fire fight, and while his soul was drifting away, he was thrust into a position of becoming an R.I.P.D. officer. These specialty officers are tasked with hunting dead criminals, known as “Deados” who refuse to cross over and bring them to justice. Nick and Roy (Jeff Bridges) have to work together and figure out why the Deados are suddenly interested in gold and working together which is very unlike their kind. The game though itself won’t have you get to the bottom of the mystery, as you’ll simply be shooting a plethora of enemies with weapons over and over.

R.I.P.D. The Game ditches the traditional story telling format for a variant of the popular Gear of War-like mode titled Horde. You’ll simply be shooting Deados from one stage to the next that come in waves called encounters. It’s a shame you don’t actually get any story elements from the game but instead just a simple arena shooter. You choose between Quick or Custom match, and while Custom match does allow you to play single player, it’s not explained anywhere and for the longest time I thought it wasn’t possible; it’s not recommended though, as you’ll want a partner to suffer through the game with you. Choose a map, difficulty, weapons, consumable, character, and you start your mission that will last around fifteen to twenty minutes if nothing goes wrong (and if there’s no duel at the end, which I’ll get into shortly). Each map consists of five waves of Deados, called encounters, with the final encounter also containing a much more powerful boss enemy as well. That’s the gist of the entire game, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go into each part and mechanic of the game.

When you start playing R.I.P.D. you get to choose either Ryan Reynolds or Jeff Bridges, though you’ll only know it’s them if you know they star in the movie. Their likeness is kind of recognizable, but in no way will someone that doesn’t know about the movie ask why you’re playing either of them in a video game. The catch though is that you need to give time for the textures to load in, not just on the characters and enemies themselves, but the environment as well. Both characters play exactly the same, so there’s no benefit to choosing one over the other unfortunately; simply pick which actor you like more.

The encounters are time based, but instead of a simple set time you need to complete it in, it’s also linked to your health bar and life count. If you die (and your partner doesn’t revive you) you lose a minute off the clock, though I never ran out of time in all the encounters I played. There are only seven maps to choose from, all of which are bland and nothing noteworthy. The map sizes are appropriate for this type of co-op gunplay, though most simply turn into corridors once you figure out to stay near the much needed ammo boxes.

I needed someone to play the game with me to try out the co-op, but I made sure to make him agree to help me with the review before telling him what it was (Sorry buddy). Single player is brutal simply because the game is made for co-op (online only, no split screen) and without a partner you lose a lot of firepower and help that’s needed on the higher difficulties. Turns out co-op doesn’t make the game instantly good in any way. I was using a pistol and rifle while he used a shotgun, thinking we would complement each other; too bad the base shotgun is almost completely useless and we usually just ended up meleeing enemies once we were out of ammo. The game simply throws three or four of the same types of enemies at you, only briefly changing things up when enemies have a car door for a shield that require a little more precision shooting (which is a feat in itself) or a boss at the fifth encounter. Once you manage to deal with the constant knockdowns from the boss and your partner downs the boss, you either have to deplete the last bit of health from them to kill them for goo, or arrest them which involves staying near their body as more waves of enemies are thrown your way to try and stop you. Aside from achievements, there’s no reason to do one way over the other, so whatever is easier for you and your partner, if you even have any ammo left at that point.

The more Deados you will, you will fill a kill streak bar at the top of the screen that will allow you to use special abilities to help you kill even more Deados. There are five different abilities that can be used once the bar reaches that point that unlock in a specific order. The heal ability is the first one that can be used and is generally useless as recovering health just means getting out of fire for a few moments. The next ability allows you to freeze enemies in place with phantom chains, and it can be useful at times since it seems it’s only possible to hit Deados when they are running straight at you due to the hit detection and sloppy controls. The third ability was easily my favorite and most useful in all of the encounters I played; you can deploy a floating Turret that will shoot any Deados that get in its sight and range. The next ability allows you to make a ghost clone of yourself that Deados will try to shoot while you maneuver undetected and shoot them without noticing, but it’s not very useful in general when compared to the Turret. The last ability you would think would be the most powerful since it takes the longest to save up for, but after a few uses I just resorted to the Turret. The last ability essentially does a large ground attack and in theory should kill almost everything in its range, but it doesn’t and it seems random of who it hits, as it doesn’t even kill the larger enemies either.

As you complete encounters and finish waves, you’re granted money for your salary which can then be used to upgrade and purchase new weapons. The first few weapons aren’t terribly expensive to purchase, but a few upgrades in the price starts to soar. This wouldn’t be a huge issue if you gained a lot more money for how well you played, but it seems very consistent with all the encounters that my friend and I did. The higher tier weapons will take an excruciating amount of time to unlock and upgrade which I wouldn’t subject myself to. You can also purchase one time consumables only good for the encounter you’re about to begin playing that can range from more ammo, damage boosts, armor, and more. The problem with these though is that you’re almost constantly ammo starved that you end up meleeing quite a lot of the time unless you just stay near an ammo box the entire time.

Before the match you’ll also see a list called Bets. Here each player takes a turn crossing off one of the choices until only one remains, which is the bet between both players. The choices can be ‘Most Abilities Used’, ‘Most Headshots’, ‘Deathmatch’, and more. It took me a few rounds to realize that the only choice NOT crossed off is the bet, not the ones you choose, which resulted in Duel being the one we kept getting at the end. This one pits you off against your partner, with the first player getting tow kills being the winner of the bet and some money. During encounters there will also be random challenges thrown your way (God Mode sounding familiar?) that can range from a certain amount of kill, headshots, or a variety of other objectives that you work towards cooperatively.

R.I.P.D. has a mountain of issues that can’t simply be ignored as they are more than just small issues that can’t really be overlooked. There’s no real health indicator other than the small red markers at the edge of my screen showing where I’m getting shot from, and once your screen goes grey, you’re very close to dying. The texture pop in is absolutely terrible and things will look bland and muddled while you look at it at first, though if you stare at something long enough, the better textures will load; not really an option in a game like this where you’re constantly moving to stay alive. Even certain environment objects will disappear at certain angles as well. Many times I wasn’t sure how the enemies were shooting me, as it showed them not even holding their weapons until they got up close and personal.

The controls are extremely sloppy and normally you just learn to deal with non-precise controls, but even a dozen encounters in, I was constantly missing the Deados regularly. There’s a kind of lock-on when you zoom in, but it chooses when to work and when to completely ignore you. Weapons don’t sound like they carry any power behind them and while there are a few spoken lines in the game from the main characters, I have no idea if they are samples from the movie or not, as it didn’t really sound like their respective voices.

The hit detection in R.I.P.D. seems to be very hit or miss, literally. You can shoot a Deado point blank and in the face with a shotgun and have nothing happen, but do the same from afar and he’ll go down. You have no idea if you’re actually hitting the enemies because they don’t react to your shots, they’ll just eventually fall over when enough damage is taken, but you have no indication when that is. Most enemies will rush at you with weapons, snipers, and other weapons, but there are even some that try and attack you with toilet plungers; yes, plungers.

When it gets chaotic, the frame rate can suffer quite immensely, coupled with an achievement popping up and you’ll think it’s completely frozen for a moment. You only get to use the weapons you chose before beginning the encounter and you cannot pick up any of the enemies weapons. For some reason the Deados get to use grenades, but you unfortunately do not.

I don’t like to generally focus on the negatives over the positives when reviewing a game, but I even asked my friend that helped me play what he would put in the ‘Pro’ column, and we could only come up with one note: You play your character that kind of looks like Ryan Reynolds or Jeff Bridges, so if that is a redeeming quality, that’s about it. Sadly R.I.P.D. is nowhere near the caliber, quality, or fun as God Mode and this is actually a blemish on the developers as far as I’m concerned.

Normally arcade games that only costs 800 Microsoft Points ($10) aren’t that big of a deal if they are bad, but this goes beyond that though. R.I.P.D. reeks like a complete lack of effort, most likely due to the time constrains to coincide with the movie release, but this is exactly why movie licensed games get a terrible reputation. I’ve not seen the R.I.P.D. movie yet, but spend the $10 on the movie instead, as I doubt it’s going to be as bad as the game.

Overall: 1.5 / 10
Gameplay: 1.5 / 10
Visuals: 2.0 / 10
Sound: 1.0 / 10


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