Rambo: The Video Game is an on rails shooter released on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Steam. The game was developed by Teyon and was published by Reef Entertainment. The game was released on the 21st February 2014 here in Europe, and is due for release on the 25th March in North America, according to Amazon US. The version being reviewed is the PC version.
Since this game got released, it’s been getting hate around every corner, the game has been getting terrible reviews, but I don’t think the reviews are justified, most of the reviews I’ve read or watched consisted of a man moaning and crying about the fact it’s a rail shooter and that you can’t move your character, it’s a rail shooter, you’re not supposed to move your character.
There was actually an arcade Rambo game released by Sega in 2009, you would assume it’d make sense to compare the new with that, right? Well, nobody did!
Although I guess I can understand everyone’s reactions, I blame the marketing, they tried to hide the fact it was a rail shooter in the trailers and gameplay videos, and even on the back of the box! Did they try to make it appeal to Call of Duty and Battlefield fans?
They should have been honest, showed the game in all of it’s arcade-y glory, advertised it as an on rails, fast paced shooter, bringing an arcade style experience to consoles, it might have worked, because there still exists fans of rail shooters…
I hope to give this game a bit more of a justifiable review, or at least look at the game from another perspective, I am a huge fan of rail shooter games, and to me, it’s a huge breath of fresh air to see a company trying to make one in an industry currently infested with call of duty clones. I’m also a big Rambo fan, so this game seemed right up my alley.
I would have been willing to try out the game, but I don’t own a PS3 or an Xbox 360, and I’ve been put off PC gaming thanks to DRMs such as Steam and Origin (Angry mob coming in 3… 2…).
Luckily, the retail release of the game doesn’t use any of those, no internet is required to play this game, you just need the disc in the drive, just like old times!
Before we go further, I don’t have many screenshots to show, as Raptr or XFire supports this game, and Game Booster has died on me, it’s not starting up. I did manage to take a screenshot, I print-screened one time, and my Dropbox actually saved it, it hasn’t done it since, though.
So the first thing I noticed about the game were its cutscenes, the graphics for these aren’t great, despite being pre-rendered, and the animation is pretty awful, their lips rarely match up with what they’re saying.
The In-game graphics weren’t anything special either, the textures look muddy, and the characters don’t like what they’re supposed to. The game doesn’t make up for it for style, either, it seems to try very hard to look as realistic as possible, having a shot at overcoming the uncanny valley, to try and compete with the AAA games, but falls short, very short…
Just like in the cutscenes, the animation is very bad, it’s as if the developers didn’t try to make the animations look good, there are times where the character float above the ground, and there’s a lot of clipping, some of which they didn’t even hide in the game’s trailer! Some of them have been fixed or improved since that, though.
How about the framerate? Surely a game that Rambo would run butter smooth to make up for the graphics, right? Well… the game is capped at 30fps… I am not kidding. Why would you do that!? It’s supposed to be an arcade shoot em up, and the game is only 30 frames!? They’re taking the p*ss, surely!
Just to clear things up, the Sega arcade game in comparison looked nicer and ran way smoother!
Moving on to the sound department, and it isn’t much better here, the voices are for the most part ripped from the films, I guess I can understand doing that for Col. Trautman, as Richard Crenna, the actor who played him, passed away in 2003, but they could’ve at least got Sylvester Stallone to reprise his role, surely? The voices aren’t the best quality movie, you can hear the background noise in alot of the sound clips used, it’s like the kind of clips you’d see in voices in a Youtube video.
The sound effects are bland, nothing special, as is the music, which is quite forgettable, they even repeated certain music clips multiple times throughout the level.
As for how well the game follows the movie, it seems to get the job done, although some of the environments don’t look like their film counterparts.
“How’s the actual game, though?” I hear you cry. Well, there are 3 sections of the game, there’s the actual shooting gallery sections, there’s the QTE sections and what they would call “Stealth” sections.
I’m going to save the main event till last and start off with the QTE sections, they’re okay, they work better than other QTE sections I’ve played from other games, they tell you what button to press in plenty of time, it shows a sort-of bubble around the button, and gradually gets smaller and it’s up to you to time it correctly and press it when the bubble is just about inside the button. It’s easy enough to do, but challenging to correctly time it, I like it, they’re probably the best QTE sections I’ve played, though that isn’t saying much, is it?
Moving on to the “Stealth” sections, they’re not very stealth like at all, most of it is basically, “Push this button at the right time” kind of thing, and there are QTEs which, depending on how well you time it, determines whether or not you kill or stun an enemy, silently or loudly.
These sections also have parts where you arm a bow and have to shoot arrows at enemies without being spotted, these sections are cool, I feels good to head-shot an enemy with a bow.
In short, if you were hoping for another Blood Stone, you’ll be disappointed.
Now on to the part you’ve all be waiting for, the on rails action! These sections are actually good fun, it’s no Virtua Cop or House of the Dead by any means, or even anywhere near as good as the Rambo arcade game, but it’s a nice attempt, it’s satisfying to mow down rows of enemies at a time!
The controls are for the most part fluent and responsive, though the game has log near the end of the game, and works well with a mouse on the PC version, and I imagine it’s the same for the Steam version. As for other versions, the PS3 version of the game, according to it’s box, supports Playstation move, in theory, I guess that would make the game even better, though I haven’t played the PS3 version. The Xbox 360 version, however, as far as I know, doesn’t use Kinect or any motion sensing technology, and as you should know, rail shooters never work with analogs or dpads, so I’d avoid the Xbox 360 version altogether.
The game is that is also shows a gun moving about as you move the crosshair, it doesn’t bother me personally, but it might get in the way for others, luckily, you can turn the gun off in the options, and play with just a crosshair like in games such as Virtua Cop and House of the Dead.
For each level, you get 2 weapons, you have your main weapon, and you get to choose a secondary weapon, which can range from pistols to AK-47s, although you need to unlock these guns by doing certain challenges, more on that later.
The reloading in this game is a little more complex than in other rail shooters, in other shooters, you put the gun away from the screen and shoot to reload, and for the PC, you just click the reload button (usually the Right Mouse Button (RMB)), and one you’ve done that, that’s you reloaded.
In this game, however, you hit the reload button (Default: RMB) you get a circle going around your crosshair, and a bar going around it, you have a white area, a yellow area and a red area, you have to hit the reload button again and how much and how long you reload depends on where in the circle you landed on.
If you hit the white area, that’s a “normal” reload, and you get a full clip. If you hit the Yellow area, you get a “Special” reload, where you get double the clip size. If you hit the Red area, however, you get a “Jam”, it takes longer to reload and you only get half a clip.
Personally, I think the game could have done without this system, as it takes ages to reload, and enemies will be shooting as you as you reload, even in cover.
Oh! How ignorant of me! I forgot to explain covering! You press “A”, “S”, and “D” by default, to cover down, left and/or right respectively, a lot of the time, you’re not fully covered, and some enemies can still shoot at you in cover, although this can be a good thing, as you can kill some enemies in cover so you’d have less to deal with when you go back out of cover, some don’t like the covering, but I’m neutral about it, it has it’s ups and downs.
There’s also something called “wrath” mode, you can get into wrath mode by filling up a bar below the health bar, you fill it up by shooting enemies on screen. In wrath mode, you get unlimited ammo, and you regain health for every enemy you kill. This is the only way you can regain health, there are no medkits or items you can use to get health. The wrath bar depletes as you’re in wrath mode, and when it runs out, the game goes back to normal, you’re only in wrath mode for a few seconds, so activate it when a lot of enemies are around, and try to mow them all down in the time you have.
You can also get perks and skills between levels, you get a skill point and new perks to choose from when you level up, you level up scoring enough points in the game. These perks include making it easier get a perfect reload, taking less damage, wrath mode lasting longer, etc.
The each skill or skill upgrade costs a skill point, these also include becoming more resilient to damage, having a bigger wrath bar and last longer in wrath mode, and having your weapons hold more ammo and do more damage.
I like this system, because it gives me an real reason to get a high score in the game, this is probably the only game where I wanted to score as much as I can.
Now to move on to two points I don’t like about this game, it’s length and difficulty.
If you flawlessly speed through the game, never dying, it’s only about 2 hours long, certainly doesn’t justify the £20 price for the game.
You probably won’t be able to do that, though, thanks to the game’s difficulty curve, right up until the last level, the game had gradually increased in difficulty, every level a little harder than the last, it got quite hard, but I could manage, it’s a lot easier than the Sega arcade game from what I recall.
The last level, however sky-rockets in difficulty! It throws everything at you, all at once! At one screen, they were throwing a grenade thrower, a turret and a heavy armour pyro all on one screen, if you get out of cover for more than one second, half of your health will go, and even in cover, the grenade thrower can take all of your health with one flame thrower! That’s just one screen, they are several like that! This is the hardest level I think I have ever played, I actually had to cheat to get through this level, it was so unforgiving! That was on the easiest difficulty as well, with a mouse. I can’t even imagine what it would be like with a controller and on the hardest difficulty!
Other than the main story, you can replay missions from the story, and you also have challenges to do, for example, getting a perfect in every QTE moment one one mission, and disarming cops without killing them in another. I guess these are a good way to get the player to keep playing the game and achieving these challenges. I, however, have never been inclined to do anything other than the main story/campaign in any game, and this is no exception.
Graphics – 3/10
Sound – 3.3/10
Story – 7/10
Gameplay – 7/10
Overall – 5.1/10
Overall, this game has low-budget written all over it, but the game itself can actually be pretty enjoyable, is it worth £20? Not by a long shot! It’s far from the best shooter, but it certainly doesn’t deserve the hate it’s getting! I’ll admit, maybe a Call of Duty or James Bond style game might have worked better, but what we got is fun too. If you’re a fan of on rail shooters, I recommend you wait until it goes down in price, I would wait until it goes on sale or goes down to £5 brand new, and hey, it doesn’t use Steam, so you can buy it used, CEX might eventually have it for mere pennies, though personally, I’d buy it new and support the publishers for not using such DRM polices, but it’s up to you, that’s the beauty of it!
So that concludes my review, it’s my first one in years, I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it, and I hope to do more of these in the future.