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Rambo: The Video Game Review: Worse Than Rocky V
With the success of the Uncharted series and the relaunch of Tomb Raider you would think that a Rambo game would probably be pretty good. Well, we still might have to wait a while until we get a game that does Rambo justice as Rambo: The Video Game is an embarrassment to the Rambo franchise. There is very little that redeems this game as it completely fails in every way to be enjoyable.
First off, this game is an on-rails shooter. Secondly, there has already been a Rambo on-rail shooter that was released in arcades that was actually fun. Thirdly, this game was released without a light gun accessory and you have to use the mouse and keyboard. On-rails shooter can work well on home consoles due to things like the Playstation Move or Wii-motes or other add-on peripherals. For example, Time Crisis 4 for the PS3 came with GunCon 3 and that was a lot of fun because I had a light gun to actually shoot with. When you have no peripheral you are simply moving the cursor over the screen. I have had games of solitaire that were more exciting than this game. You also get to use Rambo’s trademark bow and arrow, but the shooting mechanic is so bad that even those sections are boring and tiresome.
As this is an on-rails shooter you don’t get to control where Rambo moves; there is a cover system but it barely works as there are many sections where you are out in the open and can’t take cover. Also, the enemies here can actually hit you unlike in the movies where they had worse aim than stormtroopers. Even when you are in cover you are not totally safe from enemy fire as enemies can still take potshots at you. Because of these wonderful mechanics there are certain sections of the game where it becomes grueling and many moments where I just wanted to set my computer on fire.
Since the enemies can hit you and you have terrible cover you lose a lot of health. To recover you must enter the “Wrath” mode where time will slow down and you get your health back from shooting enemies. This mode could have been a cool idea if you used it offensively, like out in the open with a bunch of enemies to shoot. But, due to the health system, you will be using the wrath system as a way to stay alive instead of using it to have fun. Also, you don’t have unlimited ammo so Rambo is more of a bullet sponge than death dealing machine. These factors make Rambo: The Video Game extremely tedious and the whole experience comes off like a chore.
There are also quick time events (QTE) that you have to deal with. Like in most games QTE sequences do not add anything to the experience and are more of an annoyance than anything. Also, there are certain QTE sequences where you only get a certain amount of tries – after you exhaust them you have to start the entire level over again. This is not an arcade game; I should be able to fail a QTE sequence as many times as I want and especially when they are so poorly designed. The only time QTEs work are in games like God of War where you use to them to finish off a boss in an epic battle. Using QTEs in normal mundane situations just to change up gameplay is really lazy and should not be used. If Teyon wanted to spice up the gameplay they should have allowed players to actually move Rambo and shouldn’t have made an on-rails shooter. Teyon could have also done situations like those in Time Crisis 4 if they wanted to keep it an on-rails shooter and still could have diversified the gameplay.
When playing Rambo: The Video Game there were times I honestly thought that Teyon did not have the rights to make a Rambo game due to the graphics and voice acting being so poor. The dialogue is just ripped from the movies but the quality is so bad that it sounds like Teyon just took the audio from the VHS copies of First Blood. If they wanted to use dialogue from the movies they should have just used the scenes from the movies as character design and graphics for the cutscenes are abysmal. I am pretty sure that there are early PS2 games that look better than this game. The design for Rambo is so bad that he looks nothing like Sylvester Stallone.
The only thing that close to redeeming quality are some of the set pieces. A few iconic places from the films do appear to be faithfully recreated. For example, the police station from First Blood looks pretty much the same in game as it does in the movie.
Rambo: The Video Game takes you through the plot of the first three movies, but you are better off just watching the movies. This game is such a poor representation of the series that you would have more fun being shirtless, wearing a bandana and waving around a plastic M60 in front of the TV screen instead of playing this game. Marathoning the films would also be cheaper and give you a much longer experience than the game.
The choice to make Rambo: The Video Game an on-rails shooter shows that this game is missing the point of First Blood. In First Blood, Rambo killed a grand total of one and the movie was not about Sylvester Stallone going around killing people without his shirt. The movie was about a mistreated Vietnam Vet who was pushed to his edge. In First Blood, Rambo was not some crazy guy who went around killing people but was a sympathetic character that suffered from PTSD and one that could only take so much bullying and abuse from police that he couldn’t take it anymore. By making this game an on-rails shooter it pretty much reinforces the point that Rambo was a mindless killer instead of someone that needed help. Even though you do lose points if you kill police officers it doesn’t change the fact the gameplay here completely changes the characterization of Rambo from a hero whom we feel sorry for to a mindless killing machine. Even though the sequels do make Rambo over the top at least in First Blood, Rambo was a tragic hero who tried to avoid violence until he no longer could. Also it doesn’t help that Teyon adds moments that weren’t even in the movie just so you could kill some national guardsmen and some cops.
If you are going to make an on-rails shooter based on Rambo you have to make it over the top and a male power fantasy. When Sega made their Rambo arcade game it was a pure male power fantasy and a perfect recreation of the campiness from 1980s action flicks. It was a fun game that didn’t take it self seriously and to top it off you have to two humongous assault rifles that vibrated when you pulled the trigger. You can’t make a light gun game without there actually being light guns. You can’t also make a Rambo on-rails shooter that is also dark, realistic and edgy because it does a disservice to the franchise and is an insult to the fans.