Ride to Hell Preview
The glory days of choppers and hogs may be in the past, but these things not only hang on for a very long time, they also have the tendency to come back around. Deep Silver is banking on the combination of nostalgia and originality with their upcoming next-gen project, Ride to Hell, which puts you smack in the center of the post-‘50s rebellion that centered on motorcycles, leather, and a significant dose of danger. According to IGN, Deep Silver Developer Relations Manager Martin Fhilipp described the game as “Easy Rider meets Hell’s Angels meets the ‘60s,” and that ought to sum everything up. You will take on the role of Ray, a Vietnam returnee who has come back to a country that is suddenly in the midst of a hippie explosion. Now, if you’re not familiar with the history, guys like Ray and the hippies were on opposite ends of the spectrum, so it was a combustible situation. This is the crux of the concept in Ride to Hell, which will present the gamer with an open-world GTA-style format. This makes sense, as Deep Silver is comprised of ex-Rockstar Vienna members.
If you’re a fan of historic movies and games, this one really ought to appeal to you. Although most of you probably aren’t old enough to remember the ‘60s, you should still appreciate the attention to detail and authenticity, and if you need some assistance, go watch “Easy Rider.” First things first- don’t think of Ray as one of those aimless, shell-shocked veterans who couldn’t find their niche in the “new world” they had to re-assimilate to after the hell of war. No, he’s actually a professional photographer, which means he gets to entertain scores of lovely ladies for magazine spreads. In fact, if you really want to test your skill with a virtual camera, you can compare your shots of those hot women to other shots of players online. Of course, you can take pictures of your bike and the scenery, too, but nothing accentuates a killer bike like a hot chick, right? But while this is Ray’s job, the focal point of the gameplay is the gang-related activity; you’ll have to complete a variety of missions to expand your gang’s control of the California area. We’ve never heard of a gangster photographer, but hey…different strokes.
This may sound similar to something like Saints Row where you expand your control of the map by seizing region after region, although you’ll of course be on a motorcycle in Ride to Hell. The realism should be paramount, as you’ll even have to stop for gas from time to time (if you snag a gas station as part of your territory, you can get free fill-ups), and we imagine Ray is more human than superhero. You know, something similar to Niko in Grand Theft Auto IV. He’s capable and probably fit, but he can’t smile in the face of oncoming bullets. However, speaking of bullets, firearms will not be a cornerstone of the combat in this game, as it is in other sandbox action titles. Although the overall feel is certainly influenced by GTA, the vast majority of your enemy encounters will center on hand-to-hand combat…or even bike-to-bike combat (hell yeah, baby!). You’ll have interesting pieces of damage-inducing equipment, of course – chains, crowbars, brass knuckles, etc. – but for the most part, you won’t see much in the way of guns. Furthermore, you’ll be able to utilize the environment to your advantage; tossing foes into walls and smacking ‘em off poles will come with the territory (get it?).
Another relatively unique aspect of the game is that money won’t be an issue. We don’t mean you’ll have plenty; we mean that it won’t actually exist. The only thing that matters in the game is respect, and the more respect you receive, the more extra bike parts you will be awarded. Obviously, it stands to reason that how you interact with characters and NPCs will change depending on your actions. This immediately adds to the longevity and replay-ability of the game, because you could very easily opt to act differently on a second playthrough. In our opinion, this would be like superimposing the Good/Evil system in games like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire over a GTA mold. Unless, of course, there are always better ways of gaining more respect, which would make the adventure more trial-and-error than anything else: “oh, I didn’t get a lot of respect in that mission…maybe I should try it again.” Anyway, Deep Silver says there are an “infinite number of permutations,” and there’s a large amount of depth. You can’t be a true gearhead without fiddling around with your bike, right?
Ride to Hell is loosely scheduled for a Q2 2009 release, although we hope to have more details and information soon. A lot of people like to complain that there isn’t enough originality in the industry these days (not sure why; check out the likes of LittleBigPlanet, Mirror’s Edge, and echochrome), and if you’re one of them, keep an eye out for Deep Silver’s project. We’re really digging the idea of adopting the role of a biker on the prowl in the early ‘60s. Drop us into a GTA-like setting, put us on that chopper, give us a few nifty items like the brass knuckles, and we’re good to go!
1/13/2009 Ben Dutka