187 Ride Or Die
I want to start by saying I disgust all that tough niggah from the ghetto in his pimped ride-shit, you hearing me bro. First of all, there is that irritating habit of not letting each other finish their sentence by all continuously trying to out shout each other. Then there is the way that they pronounce that sentence, for crying out loud: if it is not subtitled, I cannot even distract the general meaning from a whole conversation! I do not know for what is they have to overcompensate (unless the big dick story is a lie) but a man wearing golden rings, bracelets or necklaces is just something I cannot relate to. Same goes for their lifestyle of smoking cigar’s or drinking alcohol while living the nightlife. The thing however, which I find the saddest of all is that depressing music in which they are against the police or preaching violence or complaining about their poorness. Now please do not give me that racist bullshit because that is another thing I hate: a white man saying he dislikes all that stuff is a racist while vice versa he is a cool brother, you with me on this one man. Fuck that, I like rock and roll, blues and jazz (which according to me definitely originated in black slave communities) and it sure breaks my heart to see conflicts between people because of irrelevant cultural differences. Anyway, this game is all about the pimped gangsta lifestyle but does that mean I won’t ever be able to like it?
Of course not, as that would make me a prejudiced moron. So, slowly but gradually I start learning how to play the game which in fact was extremely simple, I must emphasise. Before the first race began I got a quick but informative explanation of how to shoot and drive. Those two basic gameplay-elements are elaborated in a true, old-fashioned arcade style which makes this combat-driving title accessible to everybody. That means racing alone will not get you there so in order to win, you will have to pick up weapons on the road and use them to eliminate the other contestants, the way they do it in the hood, of course. However, the races do have a higher purpose to them as you victory has to “convince” Cortez’ crew of your bosses power in the hoods that he owns. As said, I failed to see the deeper part of the story but luckily the cut-scenes were fun to watch from only an esthetical point too.
Unfortunately, as ever, thing are pulled down when the in-game action starts but it still looked very good. I even like the whole more than the NFS:UG2 atmosphere which takes place in those dark, urban nights too. There aren’t any realistic shadows or super innovative physics involved (as far as I am aware) but by keeping things a bit down, the game looks like a smooth videogame which is appropriate for its theme. Another very, very great thing about the settings is that not all of them are dark and wet streets. Some daylight highway races which look completely different create some much appreciated variation.
Variation is what the music lacks I guess, that and surround because face it: choosing between stereo and mono in 2005 is not something what modern day gangsters do, especially those who even installed a ps2 in their car. Playing a game in stereo is like listening to your favourite music on a cassette: awesome and so much better than no radio at all but if you want more than the standard survival-kit you plug an I-pod (with legally acquired music obviously!) into the amplifier which diverts the sound into what seems an infinite amount of speakers, woofers and other fancy stuff. However, I always ask myself: why so many speakers if the only thing you ever hear is a woofer pounding and a guy talking on the background? I guess, if that is not (correct pronunciation: that isn’t, please!) such a problem then most of you will not mind the lack of decent difference in engine-sounds and blazing guns either.
Those guns do play an important role though as without some of the missions would not make any sense but let us start with the main story mode mission: racing a number of lap on a street track. You pick a car (not that they differ all too much) and try to finish first while killing as many of opponents as you can. There is not much more to it actually. Another concept that pops up regularly is the destruction derby idea with some turrets mounted on the back of a truck to makes things a little more interesting, this gets boring too after a while. However, what happens on the highway if far out the most interesting so it is a shame that almost no missions are set out there. First one there was to protect the V.I.P and his package so as you are speeding down and crossing several lanes, you will have to shoot some opponents out of the way. The second time around, it is to flee from the police or donut eating flat foots as they are referred too. Unfortunately, the chase which was so much fun ended so abrupt that I thought the police had caught me as I did not yet reach the warehouse which was the goal. Nope, it just ended on a piece of highway with cops all around me saying I had lost them all! (Nothing can take the fun out of a good old-fashioned car-chase though.) For political reasons I guess, there was no possibility to launch led onto cops but that would have been too much to deal with anyway.
This certainly is not the most innovative or technically most ingenious piece of work in gamesland but it has some pretty decent features. However, after half an hour it does get quite monotonous doing all that same simple steering and shooting (ennobled button-bashing) so I guess that if you really want a game that can keep you entertained for a longer time, you either will have to enjoy the gangster stuff a lot or ignore the repetitive nature of the story mode completely. Graphically, it has a lot going for it but in the end, I once again cannot help to find it all much of the same. The gameplay has a lot of elements which are all combined into an even arcade mixture which goes down easily. The whole idea of the game tries to feed onto the now ongoing hype of driving/shooting in tha hood. Luckily it realizes that GTA is out of its league and therefore it settles to be great in its own category which makes 187 Ride or Die a good average title rather than a failed piece of misery.