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187 Ride or Die

Score: 60%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Entertainment
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Racing (Kart)/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

187 Ride or Die looks fantastic, making looks one of the game's few high points. In particular, the car and city models look great and show off some really nice details and sharp texture work. The looks are enhanced by Burnout-level lighting and special effects that give the game that graphical "pop" few others are able to pull off. I was also impressed to see how well the developers were able to pull off the "feel" of driving around Los Angeles. I've only been there a few times, so locals may not come away with the same impression I did, but the city's particular flavor is definitely there.

Sound is another of 187's pluses. All of the gunfire, crashes and explosions (and believe me, you'll see a lot of all three) pack a powerful punch that really sells what is going on. The impact is especially noticeable if you have a good sound system. Guerilla Black, who also makes an appearance in the game, provides the soundtrack. I've personally never heard of him and frankly, what I heard didn't appeal to my personal tastes. However, the music fit the game well, so I can't complain too much. While the soundtrack helps to give the game that "street" feel, the voice work only hurts it. Overall, it feels like the game is trying too hard to legitimize it's "thug" feel, which leads to a lot of overly used slang that sounds very scripted.


Gameplay:

Los Angeles’ main kingpin has just taken nine to the chest by a Mexican gang leader named Cortez. This sparks a revenge-fueled turf war lead by O.G. Dupree, the gang’s new top dog. As Buck, you’ll have to race around L.A. while blowing up other gang members’ cars and protecting your territory.

As you can probably tell, story isn't one of 187 Ride or Drive's strongest aspects, and neither is its gameplay. 187is more or less the "thug" version of Mario Kart. You ride around enclosed areas that represent the city of Los Angeles. As you race along each street, you'll roll over weapons that act like power-ups in other kart racers. You begin each race armed with a pistol that does little damage. Eventually you'll come across AK-47's, shot guns and even missile launchers. Each weapon has limited ammo, so you'll have to place your shots carefully, though you can reload if you manage to find anther weapon power-up somewhere on the course. However, given the extremely linear paths courses take, this isn't that hard to do. Seeing as how you are racing through a city, it is disappointing that there are no short cuts to take. As a result, 187 Ride or Die can become very dull after only a few races. Couple this with the bland story, and there isn't a very compelling reason to play through the entire game.

One of the few bright spots in 187 are the multiplayer modes. The gameplay doesn't change much in multiplayer, though the added wrinkles do make it a little more interesting than the main game. In addition to Deathmatch mode, 187 includes an Escort mode that has you protecting a specific car through a track and Po-Po chase, where you try to outrun the police. In The Hit, you take the other side of escort missions and try to blow up a certain car before time runs out. Bomb mode takes a cue from the movie "Speed" and requires you to maintain a certain speed or blow up. One of my personal favorite modes was Minefield. Here all of the power-ups are replaced with mines, making for some really intense races.


Difficulty:

Protecting your turf is a fairly easy task given the poor A.I. of your rivals. Once or twice they'll manage to give you a slight headache, but most of the time they'll just sit and take all of the punishment you can dish out without reaction. Instead, the A.I. is solely interested in just getting to the finish line and pays very little attention to the combat aspect of the game. Were this strictly a racing game, the game would probably be tougher. However, 187 isn't just a racer, so there isn't much fun or challenge in taking out on opponents who rarely shoot back.

Game Mechanics:

Control is one of the most important things to have while racing through the streets of L.A. (well, that and good body armor). 187 Ride or Die contains neither, making an already hard to play game even harder. Car controls are very awkward; sometimes you can hit tight turns without problem while at others you'll find yourself fishtailing all over the place. Originally, I thought I was just approaching the turns in a poor way, after all I'm not the best when it comes to racing games. Still, after considerable time behind the wheel I still had problems finding consistency. Driving is only one part of the equation; there's still the whole combat aspect (even if the A.I. refuses to acknowledge it). Aiming is just as much of a chore as driving, so couple one set of bad controls with another and it's not a happy trip.

187 Ride or Die isn't that bad a concept; it is just not executed all that well. What the game lacks overall (besides a good story, better controls and more open-ended tracks) is some sort of new twist on the genre. Instead of trying a few new things, it instead finds an existing mold and replaces banana peels and turtle shells with machine guns and missile launchers. A few core gameplay elements make it worth at least a rental, though you're likely to find more fun with the Multiplayer aspects rather than the poorly written single-player one.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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