It’s time to look at another old PS1 game. This is the last one on my to do list with the exception of Tarzan, but that game hasn’t been working. I’m always up for more racing games and this is a motorcycle one which is certainly unique. The game does have its weak points though which prevent it from being quite as good as it should have been. It’s a decent game, but there are better alternatives in the genre.
You play as a thug who wants to go from being a grunt to a captain. To that end you have to join one of the two gangs. It doesn’t really matter which one you choose as they are both basically the same. You then have to win in a lot of underground races. There are 30 races in all with the difficulty spiking after each 10. So….try to beat them all! There aren’t a whole lot of cutscenes to be found here and that might even be a good thing since the ones we do get are not very good. The story is definitely one of the weak points here.
I also have to give the soundtrack a big thumbs down. It isn’t often that you need to turn off the music but that’s what I did for this game. I lowered it to the bare minimum because the songs were all pretty lousy. It’s extremely loud and obnoxious the whole time. Better to just listen to the sound effects or put on some background music yourself. The music makes sense since you’re literally playing as a gangster but that doesn’t make it any better. Unfortunately the graphics aren’t much of an improvement. The level can’t even load fast enough to beat your car at times. You’ll have to watch out for cars by just looking out for any kind of pixelated object in front of you. Those are the ones you need to avoid at all costs.
So why is this game any good? Well, the gameplay is still pretty solid. It’s a 3D racer and you have to get to the end. There are 16 racers in each level and you can try to take them out with punches or weapons. The game doesn’t explain any of this so just test it out in game. You also apparently have a nitro option. I didn’t know any of this while playing which explains why I was having a tough time. That and the fact that this game actually is pretty tough. You have a health bar and if your opponent gets it to 0 you’ll have a long crash animation and will likely have no shot at winning the race. If you don’t crash you win. The levels are typically simple like that, but it’s easier said than done. By the second wave of levels the enemies can crush your health with ease. Even if you brake to try and avoid them they’ll match your speed.
You also can’t slam into any cars, trees, or poles. Do so and it’ll be like you lost your health and the crash animation will show up. If you crash next to a cop then you lose by default. The only way to proceed to the next level is to come in the top 3. Technically each batch of 9 levels has no order so you can do whichever one you want first, but in that case you may as well go from the beginning. Driving’s definitely a lot of fun, but admittedly the fighting aspect does not seem well tuned at all. A lot of the time it ends up feeling luck based which is the last thing you want.
In terms of replay value the game is decent at best. I don’t imagine the 30 levels will take you very long to complete. Each level is roughly 3-4 minutes long. So that’s only around 2 hours of content. I think you should expect to lose each level quite a few times though which will certainly extend your play time. Beyond that, there isn’t much reason to play the other modes though. You can work on your driving ability I suppose. If you have other people around who want to play then there is multiplayer which is technically unlimited replay value.
I will give the game props for not being too dark for my TV at least. Not enough to help the score further or anything, but it’s still a nice touch. It is tempting to give the game a 5 but between the multiplayer and the gameplay actually being good I think a positive score is warranted. Just try to avoid the soundtrack and then you’ll really be all set to go.
Overall, Road Rash is a reasonable driving game. It just falters next to most others because even if the gameplay holds up, the rest of the package drags it down a bit. After all, most racing games at least have a reasonable soundtrack. If you’ve still got a PS1 then by all means go for it. Otherwise, I’d recommend something a little newer like Sonic racing or Mario Kart. Both of those games completely destroy this one. Now that I’m done with Road Rash I really can’t see myself coming back to it. It’s almost sad.