Feb 6, 2013
Remember when you were young and you had a toy box full of action figures, soft toys, accessories, paper cut out men and random stones? Everything would be stuffed into that old box and you’d make up new adventures from everything in there, no matter what it was.
The predator would hunt the cast of star trek the next generation on my bed sheets all the time and it was excellent. Retro city rampage is a toy box, one built on the reflections of your youth. This is the games best asset and its biggest weakness.
It’s a game built on moments; these moments are given strength thanks to the memories of those who happen to be playing. Being 30+ I hand an immensely enjoyable time with the main game experience. Winks and nods come quite often and the more you have experienced the more you notice.
For outright geeks like me the nods come so thick and fast that the game may as well have a heavy metal soundtrack to head-bang to.
The problem is that the whole game is a massive nod to the past, the visuals are the most blatant aspect of this but it’s in the gameplay that people will over time start to feel frustrated and then confused.
New missions come swiftly and almost all bring new gameplay aspects, often these will be in the form of massive references to older games, both contextually and gameplay wise.
Sneaking sections are followed by out and out shooting and mixed up with a short boss fight. Some parts of the game take mechanics featured predominantly in other titles and turn them deliberately on their heads. At one point for example you are tasked with following a car around the city, the lead character (aptly named simply “player”) comments in a meta way about how follow missions in games are boring and how he’ll fall asleep. You then still have to do a follow mission but with an added “drink coffee to stay awake” mechanic.
This sequence in funny in concept actually playing this section is very little fun and likely short on laughs.
That’s not to say that the game is short on laugh out loud moments, they come thick and fast along with all the references to your past. It’s just that the longer you play the less you find things funny and even when they may be funny they can still be hit and miss in execution.
The more variations you see in gameplay the more confused the player is likely to become and while the game is never a tough challenge there’s a sense that this constant variation can become either annoying or frustrating. In one mission you are simply tasked with blowing up cars with dynamite, it was a short and simple mission that could be completed in a few seconds. Instead death and failure came several times due to a combination of awkward mechanics and random in game scripting.
Being plowed down by cop cars over and over again because you’re trying to charge a stick of dynamite and throw it at moving traffic while also attempting to dodge is annoying.
The game is a toy box as I said before though; it’s one that for the right person there’s a lot on offer. Stick with the main story; what there is of a story; you’ll be faced with events; be they game changing or throwaway that tickle your nostalgia bone to the marrow.
Nods to classic cartoons, modern films and comics sit right alongside events based on games like metal gear or bionic commando. Each and every mission is something that’ll remind you of something old or new and the depth of the games pop culture knowledge is amazing to behold if a possible barrier to entry.
In the free roam mode you can explore the city as much as you like, here you’ll find random and often hilarious arcade missions that really mix up the game. One for example sees player set alight and tasked with setting as many other people on fire as he can and putting himself out before he burns to death.
These missions are entirely throw away but are entertaining none the less. Also hidden in the city are a range of arcade games that contain original takes on other famous indie games. One arcade containing both Bit-Trip Runner and Super Meat Boy games (the bit trip runner title being arguably as good as the real thing).
The world seems like its something that’s crammed full of things to find and do and is where the sense of it being a massive toy box comes from.
While it’s possible to see where the game comes from in its gta3 remake origins little of that now remains, it’s a brilliant attempt at a massive retro game parody that often hits but can also often miss.
While the toy box is full of all the toys you loved from the past, its also filled with the rocks and rubbish you hoarded too and while 20 or so years ago they might have been fun you’ve changed and children’s toy boxes are not filled with the same toys you used to like.
Find more out about the game over at http://www.retrocityrampage.com/ and maybe buy a funky copy of the soundtrack on limited edition vinyl while you’re there.