Since the long-awaited Road Redemption is still nowhere to be seen on consoles, Road Rage from Team6 Game Studios and Maximum Games has become the first Road Rash-style motorcycle combat game on Xbox One. It's a little rough, but it's also brutal fun.
The game begins with a fully narrated introduction. Basically, evil corporations and the wealthy elite have been taking advantage of the general population for too long. So one day, everyone just revolts and society comes to an end.
Five years later, the city of Ashen has been divided up into walled districts by police. Inside each district, biker gangs rule the roost. This is supposed to be a bad thing, but you play as one of those bikers and can beat up innocent civilians. The intro thinks it's way smarter than it is, and thus ends up unintentionally funny.
Open world biking
After the intro ends, you immediately begin your first race. Win it and you'll find yourself in Subtroit, one of the districts in Road Rage's open-world city.
Initially, there's nothing to do besides drive to the next story race. After completing each race, you'll receive a call telling you about the next event. These conversations are as uninteresting as the intro, if not more so. The really annoying part, though, is that if you decline the call, the caller will just keep calling back forever.
After completing enough races, the city finally becomes populated with things to do; a bunch of optional races appear on the map. These are a lot of fun. Road Rage's racing gameplay is good, and the variety of races is unusually high.
Checkpoint races, timed races, assassinations (defeat specific targets), arcade races (pass checkpoints before time runs out), and stunt races … there're lots of different ways to keep your biker busy. Elimination races are the only dud, as the laps go on way too long before someone gets eliminated.
The dumb thing is an optional race won't disappear after you finish it. So knocking out all of the side races, which should be fun in a completionist way, becomes totally superfluous. But you'll still want to engage in some of these events to earn money for upgrades.
Being an open-world game, Road Rage borrows a classic element from Grand Theft Auto: the wanted system. Harming pedestrians will add to your wanted rating, as indicated by stars. So will entering a district for which you haven't completed the qualifying story mission yet. Get too many wanted stars, and the cops chase you down.
Road Rage lives and dies by the quality of its racing and combat. While the game is no looker, it plays really well. Even without buying upgrades, the bikes handle smoothly and are a pleasure to drive. And of course, you get to beat up people while you ride them.
Motorcycle combat is the key element borrowed from EA's classic Road Rash games. As with Road Rash, you can equip a bat, chain, or many other melee weapons, and hurt people with it. One button attacks to the left; one to the right. That's the extent of the combat system, for better or worse. You ride up next to somebody and whack away, hoping to land a blow before they do.
Unlike Road Rash, one hit always knocks you or your enemies down. But being downed is no serious impediment for the player. You respawn quickly and thanks to fast-recharging nitro boosts you can usually get right back into the race.
Bikes, riders, and weapons
Completing most races will earn you not only money, but also new stuff to purchase. To do so, just pause and select the garage option. From there, you can buy loads of performance-enhancing upgrades, weapons, and more. Some races require specific bikes, so you'll have to buy them all eventually.
The annoying thing about buying stuff is the game drops you into a different spot on the map after you leave the garage. It can be confusing and time-wasting to return to where you were.
Road Rage features both online and split-screen local multiplayer for up to four players. That player count is a bit low for online racing games but perfect for local.
Split-screen should be a major selling point for this one. You only get to select from two race types, but there are lots of tracks and everyone gets to pick their rider, weapon, and bike. The actual frame rate takes a major dive in split-screen, even when playing on Xbox One X.
Road Rage is not specifically enhanced for the One X, but perhaps a patch will come that beefs things up. In any case, racing against friends in the same room (and knocking them off their bikes with melee weapons) is a nostalgic good time.
Overall impressions of Road Rage for Xbox One
While Road Rage is too uneven to be a true Road Rash successor, it captures enough of the fun of motorcycle combat that made those games great. If you can ignore the dumb story, drab visuals, and lame soundtrack and just enjoy the smooth racing and brutal combat, you're bound to have a good time.
- Smooth arcade-style racing.
- Beat up opponents and pedestrians from your bike!
- Lots of different race types.
- Open world elements are underdeveloped.
- Generic rock soundtrack has a sedating quality.
- Drab color palette makes the game dull to look at.
Road Rage costs $29.99 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam.
Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.
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