Review: Retro City Rampage DX (PS4/PS3/PSV)

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Title: Retro City Rampage DX
Format: PlayStation Network Download (30 MB)
Release Date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Vblank Entertainment Inc.
Developer: Vblank Entertainment Inc.
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK) *This is a Cross-Buy/Cross-Save Title
ESRB Rating: T
Retro City Rampage DX is also available on Xbox 360, Wii, PC and OS X.
The PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

I had never played the original Retro City Rampage that came out in 2012 but it had always interested me. With this DX version offering new tutorials, hints screens, and faster vehicles, every single mission’s been re-tuned. As well as vehicles, weapons, challenges, visual effects, visual enhancements, checkpoints and difficulty.

Gameplay:
I grew up playing computer games and can still remember gaming on my Amstrad CPC 464, the cassette tapes spindles slowly turning as I patiently waited for about five minutes for my game with sixteen colors to begin. Those days are long gone now and most gamers have no idea what it was like back then.

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Every inch of this game has references to the early years of gaming and even some classic films of the 80’s and 90’s. Each mission you undertake is littered with nostalgic parodies and jokes that cleverly disguise fetch quests. If you want a little break from the missions you can explore the map looking for collectibles and maybe go on a rampage.

Controls take a bit of getting used to especially when driving. I found that I was continually knocking people and things over and having the police chase me. While killing them is easy, collecting one of the blue cop-coins that’s scattered around the city that automatically loses the cops is even easier. Because of this I soon stopped worrying about how safe my driving was. The purists can turn the cop-coins off in the settings menu. A word of warning is that if you try to evade the cops by ducking into a building they can and will follow you which often results in a cramped gun fight normally resulting in more health lost than if you stood your ground on the streets instead.

Lock-on shooting, jumping up and stomping on heads, twin-stick shooting and even taking cover are all actions you can perform in this game. Sadly I tend to resort to the lock-on shooting and running around like a headless chicken during gunfights as the enemies don’t stand still either. Being killed by some bazooka wielding enemies that jump out from a hiding place or accidentally breaking an item you have to keep safe happens more times than I like to admit. Thankfully there are loads of checkpoints during missions and no noticeable penalties for dying.

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You’ll see random characters break dancing on street, you’ll get sick on milk, play a Paperboy inspired level or even venture into the Ghostbusters building. There is so much to find, see, and experience in this game that it’ll be a long time before you get bored. I have yet to complete the story as I kept getting sidetracked, it seems to happen in every GTA style game I play. I love exploring the open world, finding all the interesting things and secrets.

Retro City Rampage DX has a very unique story that allows for some wild and funny missions. You’ll traverse the map venturing into places that reminded me of everything from the final building in Streets of Rage to the caves of Super Mario. You’ll collect an assortment of weapons used to dispatch the many enemies, cops, and innocent civilians that get in your way. Everything from pistols and bats to rocket launchers and flamethrowers, but my favorite has to be a guitar that your character constantly plays and smacks people around the head with when you press Square.

I’ve found driving and aiming to be ever so slightly easier on the PS4 and PS3 compared to the Vita, probably due to the longer sticks on the DualShock controllers. Apart from that they all play identically to each other and I found it quite hard to pick a favorite system.

Cross-Save across all three systems is a very welcome feature. Sadly it doesn’t automatically save to the cloud so you have to select it in the menu and then remember to grab it on the next system you boot up. You can have a different visual style for each of the systems as that data doesn’t copy over, which is very good as I tend to have the camera set to different zoom levels on the consoles and Vita.

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Visuals:
Any retro game that allows many different TV simulation modes, from an arcade cabinet to a Game Boy parody called a “Super Video Brick” is a sign of pure genius in my book. Not only that but you can also set the TV color mode, Blurst Processor, Atarovision 2599 or my favorite the Granny Smith. If you fancy some scan lines or more of a dot matrix look this game has you covered.

It’s surprising how detailed this 8-bit inspired game is. Loads of different vehicles and people fill the large world to make it look alive along with plenty of different buildings, many of which you can go into. It is still quite easy to get lost so I tend to look at the map often.

Both console versions look good but that Vita screen makes this game look a little better. Combine that with the weapon menu screen and being able to use the touch screen to quickly select one. If I had to pick then the Vita version is my choice in the visual department.

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Audio:
An abundance of 8-bit Chiptunes and sounds effect fill this game to the metaphorical brim. Being able to select any or all tunes to play by using the built-in game menu jukebox is fantastic. Some of the tracks sound very familiar if you were around in the early days of gaming and with over one hundred forty of them, fans of chip music are in their element here.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only but has got excellent leaderboards for the numerous Arcade Challenges featuring Slaughter Sprees, Second-Rate Sprees and Time Attacks. You can even save replays of these for you and everyone else to watch online. I found it useful to look at the top few global rankings to get a better idea of how to achieve a decent score/time. One annoying bug is that after viewing a replay it takes you back to the main menu.

Conclusion:
I didn’t think I would get sucked into the nostalgia and simplicity of Retro City Rampage DX as much as I have. I spent way too long completing side-quests and challenges and totally forgot about the main missions. It might lose much of its charm for the younger player that wasn’t alive during the early days of gaming but there is still enough here to keep it entertaining regardless.

It really shows that a lot of care, attention, and passion went into making this game. Retro City Rampage DX is not just a love letter to gaming but a comedic look into every part of entertainment from the 80’s to today.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

PS Vita Screenshots

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PS4 Screenshots

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