Better off dead
Show of hands: Who wants to see R.I.P.D.? You know, that movie with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as ghost cops that opens this Friday. The one that looks like a Men in Black ripoff. The one based on a Dark Horse comic that ran for four issues a decade ago, then disappeared into the ether, so completely and utterly forgotten it doesn’t even have its own Wikipedia page (and everything has a Wikipedia page). The one that’s expected to make less than $15 million off a $130-million budget in its opening weekend.
Follow-up: Who wants to pay $10 for a game based on that movie?
If any of you still have your hands up, I feel sorry for you—not just because R.I.P.D.: The Game is terrible, but also because I assume your life is a empty, hopeless vortex of disappointment from which you will never escape.
Mostly, though, it’s because R.I.P.D.: The Game is terrible. In a lot of ways, it’s a throwback to the bad old days of licensed games, when developers put in the bare minimum of effort and expected a brand to sell their product. Like the scores of titles that made the phrase “movie tie-in” abhorred among late ’90s and early 2000s gamers, R.I.P.D. is a quick-and-dirty riff on a vaguely relevant gameplay mechanic—this time, Gears of War‘s Horde mode—that shows every sign of having been slapped together on a shoestring budget and a criminally short deadline.
From a gameplay standpoint, R.I.P.D. actually shares a lot in common with developer Old School Games’ last project, God Mode. In fact, it’s probably just easiest to think of it as God Mode‘s neglected younger brother, the one their parents forgot to feed, clothe, or program properly. OK, that metaphor got away from me a little bit, but you get the picture.
Both games share the same Horde mode lineage, the same co-op focus (though R.I.P.D. limits you to two players rather than four), and the same basic premise: brainlessly fight your way through wave after wave of enemies, collecting money so you can procure new weapons or upgrade those you already have. The difference is that the onscreen action—be it movement, shooting, or melee attacks—is even clunkier than it was in God Mode, and nearly all of that game’s innovative systems have been stripped out entirely. In their place, we get three simple additions: a set of increasingly powerful but ultimately bland abilities that charge up as you kill enemies without going down, a bet system that allows you to compete with your co-op partner, and dynamic mid-mission challenges, half of which are broken.
Seriously, any time you’re told to fulfill some constraint until the end of the round, be it surviving without being downed or not using your special abilities, the challenge is bugged to the point where it’s impossible to complete. On multiple occasions, I went the entire level—all five rounds—without being downed or using my special abilities, per the challenge, only to have the challenge still be active at the end of the level, with no cash reward waiting for me at the completion screen. Like so much else in R.I.P.D., it’s an absolute mess that would have been obvious and easily fixable if someone had put in the effort to notice. They didn’t.
Even more bizarre is the fact that there’s practically no tie-in to the source material, save the basic premise and character design. There’s no plot to speak of, save for a final level that’s completely different from the rest of the game. To unlock it, you need to collect a certain amount of gold—accomplished by beating the same seven utterly pointless wave-based levels again and again and again until you reach the seemingly arbitrary threshold. Once you do, you’re introduced to a final boss level that is, completely mystifyingly, not wave-based in the slightest. Instead, it’s a totally linear, fairly standard shooter level, where enemies behave differently from the rest of the game and you’re expected to do things you’ve never done before, like open doors and accomplish set objectives. It’s like the developers made the final level, then ran out of time and slapped an entirely different game together with new skins so they could get away with saying that R.I.P.D. was a finished product.
Just about the only saving grace to the entire experience is that, on the harder difficulties, there’s an odd fun in attempting to soldier through against an awkward, largely unintentional challenge. Once you start to metagame around all the ways R.I.P.D. is broken, taking advantage of glitches and working with your partner to exploit your way to victory, it’s oddly entertaining in an utterly broken way. Even still, that fun doesn’t last for long; you’re liable to eventually encounter, as I did, boss enemies that heal as fast as you can deal damage to them, trapping you in an inescapable gameplay loop that only ends in failure.
Ultimately, you’re probably better off just avoiding R.I.P.D.: The Game altogether. If, for some inexplicable reason, you fall in love with the movie and develop a deep desire to spend more time in the universe, it might be worth it to pick up the game and give it a shot, but you’d probably have more fun paying someone $10 to punch you in the face instead.
|Developer: Old School Games • Publisher: Atlus • ESRB: T – Teen • Release Date: 7/17/2013|
R.I.P.D.: The Game is really nothing more than a crappy movie tie-in game in the longstanding tradition of crappy movie tie-in games. There’s not much substance here, and what you do get is so unpolished and unrewarding that it’s not worth your time.
|The Good||You might be able to squeeze out a few hours of fun with a dedicated friend.|
|The Bad||Once that fun runs out, you’re only going to be left with regret.|
|The Ugly||Why does digital Ryan Reynolds look so constipated?|
|R.I.P.D. The Game is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA), PlayStation 3 (PSN), and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.|