I Actually Played This — Road To Hell: Retribution
Welcome to I Actually Played This, the place were I play the video games that most gamers have, out of caution, ignorance, or common sense, never played. Please do not attempt to play any of these games yourself. Remember that actually playing these games may undermine your health, well being, consumer confidence, and belief in the inherent goodness of humanity. I am a professional, and as such have already lost my soul. Don't try this at home.
Salutations from I Actually Played This, A Family Company. I don't want to alarm anybody, at least not until we officially enter Phase 12, but your local media outlets may have alerted you to the massive airship that's been inexplicably appearing over major metropolitan areas throughout the globe and hovering for several hours of silent menace, only to disappear as mysteriously as it came. I have been authorized by the Council of Twelve to formally state: Our bad. The arena-sized dirigible currently eclipsing the sun over the greater Des Moines metropolitan area is the I.A.P.T. Naughty Bear, a War Zeppelin/Experimental Research Facility/Family Fun Park, and if the reports of mangled corpses inexplicably falling out of the sky in various western states are to believed, the team of elite mercenaries we sent to re-take it has failed. Again, on behalf of I Actually Played This, I issue our most humble and profound apologies without assuming liability for any property damaged by plummeting human remains. The Naughty Bear began life as an experimental vessel attempting a kind of weather control by seeding clouds with ground-up copies of Blackwater: The Game, but the project was abandoned when the test clouds dissolved out of sheer disgust, mirroring what happened to the associates who played it for us. After the failure of Operation Windjammers, the Naughty Bear was refitted to house IAPT Inc.'s more troublesome associates, since its mobility allowed it to reside in the airspace above whichever nation happened to have the most lax labor laws at the moment—though for tax purposes, the Naughty Bear is registered in Liberia. In retrospect, perhaps we should have made more of an effort to refit the Naughty Bear to accommodate our more troubled associates, since playing video games as bad as those I Actually Played This regularly features can have peculiar effects on human physiology, effects our associate-level health care plans do not cover, effects like mental degeneration, increased muscle mass, growing teeth where there should be no teeth at all, and a tendency to skitter up walls. (These are very, very bad video games, you see.)
Events were proceeding smoothly, all things considered. We herded our more troubled associates aboard the I.A.P.T. Angry Bear along with a small detachment of soldiers from Shaq Fu, the private military of IAPT Inc., and christened it with a bottle of Mountain Dew Code Red. I'll be the first to admit wasn't an ideal solution, but we finally got to use the Level 41 break room again—after the biohazard team sterilized it, that is. All in all things were going well, even if the petty cash jar did claim the occasional finger and the communication from the Naughty Bear became increasingly difficult to hear over our more troubled associates screaming in what experts inform me was ancient Aramaic. The point is nobody, not even our precogs, could have anticipated just how quickly and decisively our more troubled employees would strike, and we gain nothing by assigning blame. Now is the time to move forward, ideally to a location where we'll be safe from the floating insane asylum that recent reports indicate is now belching an acrid black smoke that gives horrible nightmares to all who inhale it. It is in that spirit that we present the last communication of the Naughty Bear's writing division, which was stapled to various parts of Shaq Fu contractor Esteban Ramos and has only recently been fully reassembled, after his pelvis was recovered in a field in Wyoming. Enjoy!
June 2013's Ride To Hell: Retribution was developed by Eutechnyx, a British game company known almost entirely for racing game adaptations of licensed properties like Cartoon Network Racing, The Fast and the Furious, Hot Wheels: Beat That!, and Pimp My Ride. It was distributed by the German company Deep Silver, which originally conceived Ride To Hell: Retribution as an open-world game set in California during the late 1960's, possibly intending to sponge off of whatever remaining itch for biker shenanigans the public retained after playing the The Lost and The Damned DLC for Grand Theft Auto IV. The title was announced in 2008 with a release scheduled for 2009, but was abruptly cancelled when Deep Silver pulled out of production. Eutechnyx went ahead anyway, ditching the open-world model, the recorded dialogue, the motion-capture, and, it turns out, pretty much everything that constituted an actual video game. Ride To Hell: Retribution is not just a bad game—though it certainly is that—it is barely anything at all. It is a kludge held together with duct tape and super glue, it is an unfinished facade, it would make much more sense if Ride To Hell: Retribution was designed as a prop for someone to play in the background of a cheap TV show that didn't want to give Halo any free publicity. The fact that Eutechnyx had the unmitigated gall go actually call this a video game and presume to charge people money for it is a sick, grotesque, vile act, it's like someone put doll clothes on their miscarriage and tried to enroll it in Kindergarten.
Ride To Hell: Retribution opens in a smothering onslaught of pure incoherence and proceeds steadily downward. You see a guy riding a motorcycle down a road, then smash cut to said guy manning a turret, shooting people. The game provides no context, no preamble, no inkling whatsoever of what's going on, whose side this guy is on, or why he's killing these people. The camera shakes like a seizing epileptic when you fire the turret, an experience that is both genuinely disorienting and genuinely awful. We then smash cut to said guy riding his motorcycle again, so we're made to understand that these are flashbacks, even though no main narrative from which to digress has been established. Next we smash cut to a Quick Time Event fist fight. If you don't press the buttons it changes absolutely nothing, Lorenzo Lamas still kicks the guy's ass. (The protagonist of Ride To Hell: Retribution bears an uncanny resemblance to Lorenzo Lamas' character Reno Raines from the syndicated television series and lazy weekend afternoon mainstay Renegade, and I immediately began thinking of him as such, though the level of acting on display in Ride To Hell: Retribution makes Lorenzo Lamas' skills seem downright Shakespearean by comparison.)
This is followed by more motorcycle riding and another, non-interactive cutscene where Lorenzo Lamas shoots a guy, then proceeds to jump a helicopter that's inexplicably hovering precisely beneath a ramp that itself leads off the cliff of a gorge. The bike freezes in midair, the title card is shown, and we're dumped to a load screen, a load screen we will come to know intimately over the course of the game. I know this load screen, I am on a first name basis with this load screen, my eyes have explored every recess and traced every line of this load screen, I have spent more time with this load screen than with anyone I love, this load screen has seen me at my best and my worst, I have grown old with this load screen.
Next we see Lorenzo Lamas sitting on a bench inside an army base. We know this because the game shows us two independent blocks of text saying
Ten Days Earlier, Tupexo Army Base
apparently in case we miss one. Lorenzo Lamas is rocking back and forth on the bench, staring blankly into the middle distance, his eyes glassy and lifeless as the muted sounds of helicopters and gunfire inform us he's harboring a big ol' heap of Vietnam Trauma. His reverie is broken when a NPC with the squarest head I've ever seen outside of the 8-bit era hovers into frame and tells him it's time. Time for what we don't know, but at least he's identified by name. The character we now know to be named Jake Conway (though he'll always be Lorenzo Lamas in our hearts) gets up, but his eyes remain glassy and empty, leading us to the realization that he probably isn't exhibiting the token “Thousand-Yard Stare”. Either every single character in Ride To Hell: Retribution has debilitating PTSD, or the character design and animation are terrible. I'm almost certain it's the latter, since all the characters walk as if they're trying to carry something delicate between their ass cheeks, and their faces are animated like ventriloquist dummies.
We're introduced to characters with title cards that read
Mack “The Uncle”
Mikey “The Brother”
Jake greets Mikey “The Brother”, the brother he presumably hasn't seen since he went to Vietnam, with the line “You've gotten to be one tall sack of shit.”
A brief aside. I have an older brother who was in the army. He went through basic at Ft. Campbell Kentucky and entered the 101st Airborne at Ft. Benning Georgia, had a few months in Panama then did the remainder of his stint at the DMZ in South Korea. (This was all pre-9/11, thank god.) We didn't see each other for much of my adolescence, and I'm sure in the intervening time I indeed had gotten to be as tall as the proverbial “sack of shit”, but he did not say that when he saw me again, because my brother and I, for all our faults, are actual human beings who were glad to see one another, and not flaming @$$holes. If the “sack of shit” line is an attempt on Eutechnyx's to endear us to the characters, then it is a failure of Hindenburgian proportions. If it is an attempt to make us repulsed and disgusted by the characters, then it is a success of Hindenburgian proportions, assuming setting stuff on fire and killing people are one's criteria for success.
The trio go home and a brief argument ensues. Mikey “The Brother” wants to go to a concert. Mack “The Uncle” insists he's too young. Mack “The Uncle”'s voice sounds like Wilford Brimley speaking with a mouthful of lard. It's pretty awesome.
Mikey “The Brother” storms out of the house and slams a door, an act that prompts a sound effect that sounds like a page being quietly turned in a vast library. From Mack “The Uncle”'s subsequent reaction we're clearly supposed to hear Mikey “The Brother” driving a motorcycle “The Motorcycle” away, but I heard nothing. Perhaps it's one of those engines only bikers and skeevy uncles can hear. Mack “The Uncle” sends Jake “The Not Lorenzo Lamas” after Mikey “The Brother”, and a brief driving segment ensues. The motorcycles sound like leaf blowers. Their engines reach a particular loud humming pitch and eerily stay there. Jake “The Pursuer” catches up to Mikey “The Brother” and they sit down on the curb and have a heart to heart, but I didn't hear what they were saying because I was transfixed by Mikey “The Brother”'s enormous neck. Mikey's head protrudes from a gargantuan neck that pulsates weirdly every time his face moves in a process that's transfixing, yet horrifying, as if it's trying to give birth to something. In fact, all of the characters are living exhibits of Cronenbergian body horror, too malformed to be realistic but too realistic to be cartoonish, the character models of Ride To Hell: Retribution rule the Uncanny Valley with an unsettlingly malformed iron fist.
Mikey “The Brother” is approached by a group of bikers from the gang called The Devi's Hand. A character named Anvil who looks like Mr. Clean's less successful and even gayer brother steps forward and recites the baffling sentence “You know how to move, tiny?” to Mikey “The Brother”. It seems like Jake “The Defuser” has defused the situation, but as they're walking away the leader, a character that looks like a Texas oil magnate months deep into a meth binge, suddenly yells “Stop! Where'd you get that cut?!” The captions confirm this. Later events make it clear that the character was supposed to say "Where'd you get that jacket?!" but Eutechnyx apparently felt no need to correct the dialogue. The game smash cuts to a load screen, (Ahh Load Screen, we meet again, old friend. How long has it been? Thirty seconds? Forty five? Where does the time go? Not into playing this game, that's for certain.) which smash cuts to another driving segment.
The driving missions take place on one continuous street, and your movement is so restricted it feels like you're on rails. Enemies ride up on their motorcycles to hit you, prompting a Quick Time Event. If you complete the Quick Time Event, you smack the enemy once, then they spin out of control and crash. If you don't do anything, the enemy smacks you once, then they spin out of control and crash. If you collide with something the bike stops, the scene fades to black, then restarts a couple of yards back, no harm, no foul. At an arbitrary point we smash cut back to where the characters were before the chase began, only now the The Devil's Hand gang surround Mikey “The Brother” and Jake “The Surrounded” with guns. Apparently we never left, and the whole chase was some kind of Gilliamesque escape fantasy. The guy named Anvil pipes up with another gem of dialogue, saying “Don'choo move now, cherry pie.” while directing his rifle at Mikey “The Brother''s bulbous neck. An inexplicably Irish member of The Devil's Hand grabs Mikey “The Brother” and holds a machete to said neck. The entire cutscene takes place with no sound effects or music, only dialogue, so the whole scene is infused with an eerie silence, like it's a Bergman film. The inexplicable Irishman cuts Mikey “The Brother”'s throat, which surprisingly fails to disgorge an alien brood. Jake “The Brother Failer” squeezes out one of the lamest “Nooooooo!”s ever recorded. The game then immediately does a black and white flashback to what we saw five seconds ago. Then the scene is in color again and Jake “The Vengeance Seeker” is wearing Mikey “The Dead Brother”'s jacket, which is really their father “The Father”'s jacket.
There is some more driving. If you want you can do what's called a “power slide”, which entails turning the motorcycle you're riding lengthwise and leaning over so you can slide under stuff. As far as I could tell it was possible to power slide indefinitely. You could power slide off into the sunset, or at least you could if the game let you choose which direction to drive in, which it does not. Ride To Hell: Retribution does not let the player crash, stop, or turn around while driving. Its system for correcting this radical curtailment of player autonomy is to automatically redirect the player's motorcycle whenever they hit something, a mechanism so powerful that it is literally possible to for the player to reach their destination without touching the controller, provided they don't get stuck in a reset loop.
Eventually Jake “The Jake” reaches the airplane graveyard where he's been told one of the men who cut his brother's grotesquely enormous throat is. Instead he encounters some aggressive goons, and something that distantly resembles a fist fight ensues. There is no health bar during combat, in fact there's no life meter of any kind, because it is impossible for Jake “The Immortal” to die. There are punches and kicks and blocks, but in order to win you only need to press one button over and over again. You don't even have to touch the thumbstick, which I don't recommend, since Jake “The Disquieter”'s legs move independently of his torso, which just kind of hovers eerily as it follows the flailing appendages around. After the goons are dispatched there is yet another loading screen, with a message that helpfully reminds you of what you saw happen five seconds ago.
Jake “The Load Screen” arrives in a location that kind of resembles a cheap knock-off of Las Vegas and is immediately told a mysterious sexual riddle by a prostitute, who says “What a fine piece of man you are. You look like you need some oiling. Wanna get greasy?”
Jake “The Chaste” waves her off, then encounters a guy who's arguing with yet another prostitute in a hotel parking lot. If you wait, the angry john and the angry prostitute will repeat the same handful of sentences to each other ad infinitim, but if you walk in anything approaching their general direction the irate john will run up and attack you, forcing Jake to beat him up, an act which immediately results in a smash cut to an honest-to-god sex scene, with lots of fully-clothed groping from Jake “The Sex Machine”'s hands, which are both as large as the prostitute's entire torso. It's difficult to convey just how jarring this smash cut to fully clothed sex is, it's like the bits of pornography Tyler Durden spliced into family films, yet stretched out into a full-length vignette and inserted into a heinously awful game. There's some above the waist footage of Jake making what appear to be thrusting motions, and some above the waist footage of the (nameless) prone female kind of responding to what at this point are still purely hypothetical thrusts. This goes on for a few seconds, then smash cuts back to Jake “The Thruster” standing alone in the empty parking lot. Wast it all in his head? Is this entire thing the mad fever-dream of a crazed Vietnam vet? Will it end like Jacob's Ladder? I have so many questions. Why did Jake “The Sexually Unfathomable” turn down the first prostitute, only to walk ten feet, beat up a random guy and have sex with another, equally unappealing prostitute? Is it because the first prostitute was black and the second prostitute was white? Can Jake “The Mystery Penis” (I'll stop now.) only get aroused if he savagely pummels someone first?
Reviewers have Called Road To Hell: Retribution sexist, which I think is giving the developers at Eutechnyx far too much credit. In order to to be sexist, one must have at least a rudimentary idea of what sex is. The activity between Jake and Random Female is more like what happens when a child slaps a Barbie and a G.I. Joe together. The poor dears at Eutechnyx don't even know what they're doing. They're probably just imitating something they saw on that awful television, bless their hearts. This is all but a prelude. The real, honest-to-god misogyny is yet to come.
The questions we still have regarding Jake's violent, racist, fully clothed mode of sexuality are left hanging as Anvil exits the hotel, gets on his bike and drives away. A timer appears and begins counting down the seconds Jake has left to return to his bike, while the game provides helpful messages like “Hurry up and complete the objective”
After a load screen you chase Anvil on your bike. This level constitutes a huge spike in Ride to Hell: Retribution's difficulty, insofar as it is actually physically possible to fail now. If you get too far behind Anvil the mission ends. There's no Game Over screen per se, rather the game cuts to the pause screen and forces you to choose between Load Last Checkpoint, Restart Current Mission, and Exit To Main Menu. Not only is it possible to drive too slowly, the other guys on motorcycles are capable of beating you to death, perhaps because they have wrenches now. The bikers say something when they ride up alongside to attack you, but the sound is so bad the precise phrase isn't clear, it's either “Die bitch.” or “I itch.” Both seem equally plausible. If you're hit enough times you effectively die; the bike shoots out from under Jake, leaving him doing splits in midair as the pause screen comes up, though enemies' newfound fatality doesn't stop them from glitching their little hearts out. I killed an enemy, he flew off his bike, the bike careened into the side of the road and exploded, the bike then emerged from the explosion unscathed and continued to drive around by itself. A guy hit me twice, then drove ahead for a while until he hit something and blew up. He then kept driving even though both he and the bike were shuttering violently, then he hit nothing whatsoever and exploded again, definitively this time. If the whole game were as amusing as those two glitch bouquets Ride To Hell would be a joy, but sadly, moments such as they are few and far between, mere grains of sand in a Sahara of grinding, joyless video game punishment.
Anvil escapes into a brewery where Jake cannot reach him. He approaches a woman in denim overalls and a baseball cap who's fixing a nearby truck and says “Hello, er, I don't ever recall seeing a woman fixing a truck before.” The woman, who gets a name this time, Sarah, replies “Well you'd recall even less if I used this wrench on your head. What do you want?”
Thus we again encoutner an astoundingly common trope in video games, film, and pop culture at large, where the writer feels the best way to show a woman has autonomy is having her threaten men with violence, usually some form of castration. It's the classic Strong Woman Fallacy, with writers imagining women can only ever want to touch a man's genitals or destroy a man's genitals, while the possibility that the woman really has no opinion whatsoever regarding the genitals of the strange man she just met never never really entering their imagination. Of course, she eventually ends up having sex with the man either way. She's a woman! What else is she going to do, just stand around and menstruate?!
Jake and Sarah engage in a verbal tête-à-tête, with Jake trying to acquire the key to get into the brewery where Anvil is, and Sarah trying to get Jake to notice she is attractive and beat people up on her behalf, because what else could a woman possibly want, besides some tampons and a good smack? Dear god, I hate this game. After exchanging four sentences with Jake, Sarah immediately launches into an extended tirade about her ex-husband, and we get the feeling that she's only telling this to a stranger because she's alienated everyone else in her life. “My idiot ex-husband works in that place, but while I'm stuck fixing trucks, he's off drinking with my money he stole from me.” Jake asks “How much did he take?” Sarah replies “Couple of Jacksons and my mother's wedding ring. Can you believe that asshole?” I can, actually. Sarah's semantic understanding of the term 'couple' may not be the same as mine, but outside of the odd polyamorous relationship, a couple is two. Two Jacksons amounts to forty dollars, which is not a lot of money to loose in a divorce, even in the late sixties when this game ostensibly takes place. Even if she means 'couple' as 'a few', in my estimation 'a few' is still few, as in below ten, which is less than two hundred dollars, which is still not a lot for a divorce. Furthermore, if he still has the ring and hasn't pawned it, it either retains some sentimental value to him, in which case Jake shouldn't get involved, or he's keeping it just to hurt his ex-wife, in which case Jake should also not get involved. He certainly shouldn't do what he does, which is ride off home with Sarah, beat up her ex husband and his friends, steal the key to the brewery, then have more fully clothed, post-violence sex. Later, when Jake is in his usual after-sex killin' mood, Sarah warns him not to go into the brewery unarmed because the The Devil's Hand gang owns it—you know, the way all drug dealing, gun-running, murderous motorcycle gangs own breweries.
Jake visits an old army buddy of his Dad's named Tyrell, who gets a title card but no snappy nickname, because he's black. Tyrell is an old soldier with a deep sense of honor and duty, but that doesn't stop him from stealing military-grade weapons from the government and selling them to whoever he deems worthy. He also has three weird lines of hair on the back of his head and a beard that looks like a gigantic brown sea sponge has latched onto his face. He makes Jake fight two soldiers, who he apparently just keeps around to have them attack whoever he tells them to.
It was here my patented strategy of just pressing X and nothing else in fights finally proved ineffective. The soldiers defeated me easily while spouting immortal witticisms like “Read my lips: Fuck you!” and it seemed like all was lost until I finally hit upon the brilliant strategy of just pressing the square button and nothing else. My tactical gambit worked! My enemies fell before me like wheat before a scythe! “Good work!” Tyrell yelled from the sidelines, applauding my strategic vision.
After the fight Jake follows Tyrell to the firing range, passing an NPC whose animation has him enthusiastically stroking a rifle like a freshly housebroken puppy, as well as both of the guys he just beat up, who were somehow magically transported ahead of him and restored to full health so they could stand in a hallway and endlessly repeat the same gestures to one another in absolute silence. You'd think a traumatized Vietnam vet would be a little reticent about picking up a gun again, but no. Jake goes right from the firing range to the brewery, and a very long, very bad firefight ensues.
The firearms in Ride To Hell: Retribution are extremely nerfed, apparently because the designers belatedly decided they wanted to mix gunplay and fisticuffs. It is impossible for one enemy at a time to shoot you to death because one volley of bullets doesn't do enough damage before they have to reload, at which point Jake automatically heals. Likewise, enemy torsos absorb bullets hungrily and ask for more. In Road To Hell: Retribution guns don't kill people, headshots kill people—and even then it's a crap shoot, because in Road To Hell: Redemption all cowboy hats are bulletproof, and must be shot off their bearer's heads before your bullets have any impact. God help you if your enemies' headgear is secured to their skull by anything besides gravity. In Road To Hell: Retribution hockey masks render their wearer's heads effectively invulnerable to small arms fire. It literally takes between twenty and thirty headshots to bring these behemoths down, with them blithely walking toward you with their head snapping back again and again and again in response to your shots as if you're watching some sick, Benny Hill version of the Zapruder Film. If you're lucky these heavies might walk by a propane tank you can shoot (you know, those propane tanks that you find liberally sprinkled throughout the average brewery) which will prompt the saddest little puff of an explosion you've ever seen, but may inflict some real damage.
Jake encounters Anvil at the brewery's top floor. Anvil takes an elevator down. Jake takes another elevator down. Thus begins what is in all likelihood the most gruelingly slow elevator descent in video game history, an expanse of time when the game doesn't even allow the player to move, but forces them to watch as they descend past aaaalllll the floors they just finished scaling at the speed of molasses trickling down Velcro. Underwater. Filmed by a high-speed camera. Watched by an animal that perceives time much slower than humans do. I had a lot of time to come up with these. Did I mention the game makes you go down the elevator again if you die? It does.
Anvil runs away again, easily brushing past Mack “The Uncle” who was stationed on lookout, and another chase ensues, this time as an on rails shooting mission with Mack “The Uncle” driving the motorcycle and Jake firing a machine gun from the sidecar. It sucks. Eventually we smash cut to a cinematic of Anvil lying on the ground. I expected a few final gems of dialogue, and our dear Anvil does not disappoint, sputtering “We killed you. I done watched y'all bleed, all pretty like.” Then Jake cuts his throat. There is another load screen. Then the game drops us in Dead End, Jake's hometown, where we're encouraged to buy guns, sell drugs (all the enemies in Ride To Hell: Retribution drop enormous sacks of white powder when they die that Jake can scoop up, to the accompanying chirpy in-game message “You scored some drugs”) upgrade our bike, and select which guy to kill next from a cork board.
The realization dawned upon me slowly, for I resisted it with every fiber of my being, like Oedipus realizing the truth of his parentage. Nevertheless, the conclusion was inevitable.
Everything that came before was just a prelude.
Ride To Hell: Retribution is
I managed to force myself to complete two more murder missions.
The first involved tracking the inexplicable Irishman who cut Mikey “The Brother”'s gargantuan meat-throat to an underground boxing ring, but since Ride To Hell: Retribution insists on stretching everything out to an obscene length rendered even moreso by endless load screens, this required beating up some goons who were attacking an old guy, then engaging in a motorcycle race with said old guy before finally arriving at the boxing ring. There I had to fight three guys named Bullseye, Axe, and Selvan The Destroyer before I could finally unleash my new and improved fighting technique of “Actually Trying To Win” on the inexplicable Irishman, who I very belatedly learned was named Meathook, even though he kiled people with a machete, not a meat hook. In between the fights I had to listen to the ring announcer say things that kind of qualified as English sentences yet fell apart upon further scrutiny, things like “This Mother Trucker likes to pound flesh, but not always his own. If he ain't riding with a load, he's certainly packing it.” and “Some say this man can reach into a tiger's throat, and rip it inside out by the balls.” The limited number of character models meant the audience around the ring was full of twins, triplets, and quadruplets. It was awful.
The next mission began with delivering drugs for an old hippie stereotype while avoiding the police. The moment the driving sequence began there were some words spoken over an unseen megaphone that sounded like “He uh police.” and a kind of chase ensued, complete with tire spikes that didn't actually pop your tires, but inflicted the same kind of general damage Jake received when he got punched. Jake then beat the location of his target's girlfriend out of the old hippie, beginning a mission segment the load screen identified as Damsel In Undress. The girlfriend is named Naomi, and she is portrayed by the exact same character model that was used for the black prostitute a few levels ago, though we're led to believe it's a different person. If you've been paying attention, you know what happens next. Naomi gets hassled by some random guys. Jake kills said random guys (with the game providing the helpful instruction “Defeat the lumberjacks hassling Naomi”). Naomi thanks Jake with her fully clothed vagina, then tells her where her boyfriend is so Jake can go kill him, all standard stuff at this point. Then something strange happened. After Jake shot a bunch of people in the head for Naomi (at least that's how I played it) and they had sex on the billiard table, Naomi told Jake her brother was in Vietnam, and asked him if he thought he was okay. Jake said he didn't know.
This poignant moment commemorating an indelible historical tragedy is immediately followed by Jake hijacking a tanker truck full of gasoline and driving it into a hydroelectric dam.
That is literally what happens.
Jake goes to the drug farm where he's been told his target is, but is his efforts are stymied by an electric fence. His response to this is to hijack a tanker truck full of gasoline that handles like an ATV on an ice rink and whose engine makes no sound, then drive it to the power plant around a hydroelectric dam. All the workers at the hydroelectric dam power plant attack Jake. Some of the workers at the hydroelectric dam power plant have guns. Jake kills all the workers at the hydroelectric dam power plant, then blows up the tanker truck full of gasoline to cut off the power to the electric fence around the drug farm.
This is the same man who couldn't get inside a brewery because he didn't have the key.
He then infiltrates the drug farm, kills a bunch of people, and burns their growing operation. The marijuana plants at the drug farm are red, not green. I don't know why. The guy Jake is trying to kill, whose name is Colt, asks Jake what he wants. Jake says “I want to wipe my ass with The Devil's Hand.”
All of this actually happens.
Colt runs away to an airplane junkyard. There is a lot of awful, joyless shooting. Jake finally catches up with Colt. He shoots Colt in both knees, then in the genitals, then in the face. Enemies kept shooting at Jake during the cutscene as he stood over Colt. It was awful.
The game kept going. I couldn't.
Ride To Hell: Retribution's name proved more literal than any of its creators could have possibly imagined. It is not just one terrible game. It is a terrible driving game. It is a terrible fighting game. It is a terrible shooting game. It is not only astonishing in its degree of awfulness, but the sheer volume of it. The game just kept going, and hurting, and punishing, and tormenting, and persisting, much like this article. There were so many times I wanted to quit before I finally did, but there was always some new, bewitching insanity that would make me want to prolong the agony. In the house at the drug farm, Jake encounters the exact same prostitute he encountered in the hotel parking lot in knock-off Las Vegas, who is having the exact same fight with the exact same john who Jake beats up in the exact same way, precipitating the exact same fully clothed sex with the exact same prostitute. In the same house I encountered a reel-to-reel projector playing a film that was just one image of a nude ass. It wasn't pornography, it wasn't erotica, it wasn't boudoir photography, it wasn't art or smut of any kind, it was just a mysterious picture of a mysterious ass, in tasteful black and white. The choices the designers made baffled me at every turn, but the train wreck fascination they evoked could only hold out against abysmal gameplay and hateful mechanics and hideous graphics for so long.
I would say the people at Eutechnyx should be ashamed of what they've done, but the people who made Ride To Hell: Retribution clearly transcended any notion of human shame a long time ago, entering into some kind of rarefied state of debauched hubris à la 120 Days Of Sodom where they believe themselves to be dark gods of humiliation & pain who regard all humanity as disposable vessels for their obscene amusement. Or maybe they had an ironclad distribution deal with Deep Silver and thus had no financial incentive to make a decent game; hell, I don't know.
How Long I Could Make Myself Play: I don't know, time gets kind of wonky while playing Road To Hell: Retribution, but I'm reasonably certain this glacier swallowing my living room is new.
How Bad Is It As Described By A Film On IMDB's Bottom 100 List: A Cinderella meets her Prince Charming on the ill-fated Titanic. Along for the ride are a rapping dog, other talking animals, and an assortment of wacky humans.
Redeeming Factors(if any): Virtually every character in it eventually dies.