By now, you’ve probably heard about R.I.P.D. If not, then you’re surely in the minority, as the new movie, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, is being promoted heavily in advance of its July 19 release date. That’s to be expected, though; after all, this is Hollywood we’re talking about, and it’s summer blockbuster season.
As with just about every other celluloid blockbuster released during the existence of video games, it seems, Ryan Reynolds’ latest ink-to-film adaptation has received an interactive tie-in. Aptly titled R.I.P.D. The Game, it’s currently available on the three most popular high-definition platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. However, unlike its peers, this licensed experiment is not a full retail experience. Instead, it’s a smaller, not to mention cheaper, downloadable title.
For the uninitiated, the Rest in Peace Department is a fictional and comic-based police force that patrols the afterlife, keeping evildoing Deados from harming humans. Deados, you see, are dangerous and unhappy spirits who refuse to move on, and are perfectly fine with harassing the living. In a comic book world, this makes sense, and it’s a very interesting premise to say the least. As such, it’ll hopefully make for a wholly entertaining film. Unfortunately, however, any hope regarding the video game achieving similar status has been diminished by the final product, which isn’t necessarily bad or obviously broken, but happens to be incredibly derivative, frustratingly repetitive and quite boring overall.
Instead of sticking to a level and story-based format, Old School Games’ ten-dollar (800 Microsoft Point) download was created in the vein of Horde Mode from the Gears of War franchise. However, it’s not nearly as polished, creative or entertaining, choosing repetition over uniqueness. It’s a shame, because there was promise to be found within the source material, but what’s presented to us here just isn’t worth getting excited over. Things could have been different, though, if the developers had put more thought into what they were making, but it’s apparent that rehashing mechanics from gaming history took precedence over that.
Upon starting R.I.P.D. The Game, fans of this interactive medium will be greeted by a quality, Cel-shaded introduction, which explains exactly what’s going on by telling the story of a cop whose lack of fear got the best of him during a gunfight. His departure from our realm became a bonus for the world beyond this one, because it was seemingly in need of a badass policeman, and he fit the bill. That’s pretty much all you need to know to get into things, and not a whole lot more is explained over the course of the several hours it’ll take you to get from the beginning of the game to its end. Still, there is talk of a Deado hunt for gold and a baddie named Hayes, but since I’ve yet to see the movie, I can’t tell you if the revealed information is full of big spoilers or just little ones.
Following the aforementioned intro, players are simply dropped into a basic menu, which has all of the settings one would expect from an online-focused, two-player co-op experience of this ilk. By that, I mean Quick Match, Custom Match, and Options, complete with a How to Play document. You’ll probably want to read that, because there’s no real gameplay tutorial, as the developers opted for text-based hints instead.
It doesn’t matter if one chooses to play online or go solo, things are always exactly the same. Seven different locations are available, ranging from a subway station to a meth operation and even a rooftop bar, but they all play the same way: You pick a character and a loadout (choosing from a bevy of guns, most of which must be paid for with salary earned for completing sessions), then shoot your way through several waves of uglies over the course of about 20 minutes.
Unsurprisingly, success is based on survival, and survival requires intelligent gunplay – especially on medium or hard – because each death depletes your limited stock of lives and time always ticks away the characters’ livelihood. Things are obviously easier with a co-op pal, though, especially on those difficulties, because each stage’s random boss has the ability to regenerate health. If you’re playing by yourself, good luck in taking it down (or arresting it by downing it and then holding spot until a meter fills), because the time you take to reload will be used for baddie health replenishment. This doesn’t really happen on easy, though, so you should be fine there.
Now, what about the core gameplay outside of the bosses? It’d be nice if there was something unique to talk about here, but there isn’t. All you’ll find yourself doing is moving around a bland environment and shooting bad guys, then using killstreak bonuses, such as turrets, healing spots and a ghosting ability, whenever they become available. There are no location-based traps, miscellaneous weapon drops or anything of the sort. That is, apart from the mini-guns that some of the heavy enemies drop. Furthermore, nothing ever changes. Each session of five waves boils down to the same thing over and over again, with varied window dressing. Sure, Old School Games added a betting option for co-op pals, to allow them to compete over kills, killstreaks and more, but it’s nothing special or game changing, and the same is true of the miscellaneous challenges that pop up during each round. In fact, one of the latter list items – a task to win a round without being badly hurt or downed – seemed broken, as it failed to allow for victory.
The gunplay is fine, and the Cel-shaded visuals are easy on the eyes, plus full of detail, but there’s simply no wow factor to be found. You’ve played this type of third-person shooter many times before, albeit probably not against waves of unruly spirits, or with a touch of voice acting from the aforementioned movie stars. Going further, it’s almost a given that you’ve played better, thanks to more creative games that run smoother and offer more substance. This one has a bit of a framerate problem and suffers the odd visual glitch, though neither issue is overly prevalent. Granted, they did pop up several times during my seven or more hours of grinding.
If there was more to the above, then R.I.P.D. The Game would be a lot more fun. However, as it stands, the experience is far too much of a grind to be an enjoyable way to spend ten dollars. Just to unlock the final stage, one must repeatedly play the same maps over and over again for several hours, repeating the same actions ad nauseam. There’s no let-up from the drudgery, and it’s too bad, because the (borrowed) third-person shooter mechanics work pretty well, and there’s a bit of short burst fun to be found within. With that being said, this is a prime example of a lack of drive, and can be categorized as a sufferer of the movie game curse.
R.I.P.D. The Game isn’t a broken mess, but it’s simply too basic and boring to care about. Unless you like mediocre-at-best shooters, save your money for something else. Even achievement addicts won’t be happy with this tie-in, because earning enough salary to unlock and upgrade all of the available guns will take a long, long time.
This review is based on the XBLA version of the game that we were provided with.
Video Credit: GameTrailers and GamingKing1011
Although its mechanics are half decent, R.I.P.D. The Game is a derivative experience that doesn't offer anything new and suffers from copious amounts of tedium as a result.