Retro City Rampage was originally created as an 8-bit style take on GTA 3 and went onto be its own game. It was released back in 2012 and received mainly positive reviews and feedback. The game has now been re-released as Retro City Rampage DX. The main changes to the game are to do with the games difficulty, like frequent checkpoints that make things a little bit easier. The games controls have also had some adjustments to improve the overall experience.
I idea is pretty simple and familiar if you played any of the old GTA games, as you carry out various tasks and missions that usually involve unsavory or illegal actions. The game has a tonne of playful references and nods to familiar films, games and franchises and the main guy you work for is an obvious reimagining of Doc Brown from Back to the Future. The game is divided up into a series of mini-games, which works well and keeps the gameplay fresh throughout whether you’re shooting, driving or robbing banks. The game never for one moment takes itself seriously and allows for some ridiculous moments. The game is set in 1985 and you play as ‘Player’ who fails at an attempted bank robbery and then steals a time machine which takes him to the year 20XX. He must now try and return to 1985, with the help of a scientist called Doc Choc. The story is relatively simple but gives the game plenty of freedom to mess around with crazy scenearios and funny references.
The controls are simple once you know what you’re doing but because the game has so many different sections and parts the controls do change slightly for each type of mini-game. For example, if you’re driving you use the back triggers to drive and reverse and if on foot you use square to attack as well as other actions. When on foot you can do things like take cover behind objects during shootouts, which I didn’t actually tend to use. The game plays from a top-down perspective, much like the original GTA games, which I remember playing when I was much younger. Retro City Rampage does seem to have a bit more of a 3D style to the world, which ultimately enriches and gives each environment more depth.
The core gameplay involves shooting, driving, robbing and carrying out lots of shady activities, whilst having plenty of humour throughout. My favourite sections were the side-scrolling platformer moments, that usually involved chasing down targets. The different mini-games and styles of game genres in this one game is what makes Retro City Rampage so great. The game certainly feels like an old game but that’s exactly what its going for and it nails it well. I was worried at first that they were trying to throw in too many different types of games and I thought it might feel oversaturated or the gameplay might be lacking because of it, but that’s certainly not the case. The game is always throwing in funny references and the game even states at the beginning that it’s a parody of many other franchises. These moments are one of the most interesting aspects of the game and always made me smile. I think I loved the game so much because of the subtle references to franchises I loved during my childhood, like Zelda, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters.
Asides from the main story section of the game there are also Arcade Challenges which are timed missions that see you attempting to get high scores. One particular challenging I enjoyed was creating as much mayhem as possible, which I vaguely remember doing in some of the older GTA games. These are only very short game modes but they do offer a lot of replayability to the game. There is also Free Roaming Mode which is what I mainly remember doing in old GTA games with my friends. These extra additions aren’t anything too special but they do offer more reasons to jump back in and play some more after you’ve finished the main game.
The whole presentation of the game is great with vibrant colours, awesome pixel art style and each environment feels bustling with people and full of depth. It feels like you’re playing an old-school game but every aspect of the gameplay feels responsive and tight, apart from some tricky driving and aiming when shooting. I don’t know if these mechanics were intentionally done like that though to make the gameplay experience feel even more genuine, either way its still enjoyable. The world and perspective of the game is always changing and the world is always interesting to look at. The sound design is also very impressive, with an awesome soundtrack that feels upbeat and memorable. The sound effects also work well, whether it’s the sound of gunshots, car wheels screeching or just the simple retro style sounds you would expect from old video games.
Overall I really enjoyed my time with Retro City Rampage DX is this is the best way to play the game, with slight improvements to the controls and game difficulty. The story isn’t that original but it does give plenty of opportunity for lots of clever references and humour. The game has a good pace and the different gameplay segments and styles kept me entertained throughout. I would highly recommend this game if you like GTA, especially the old-school top-down games, with plenty of humour and a tonne of action.
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