Originally releasing on the PlayStation Vita back in 2012, Brian Provinciano’s open-world game Retro City Rampage has been revamped and released as Retro City Rampage DX and boy is it better for it!
In Retro City Rampage DX, everything has been fine-tuned to ensure that the player’s experience of the game is far superior to that of the original such as the weapons, vehicles, visuals, mission checkpoints and challenges. There are also new trophies, a much improved map and a new weapon-select screen that makes full use of the PlayStation Vita’s touch-screen.
You play a shady character simply called ‘Player’ who has somehow managed to get himself teleported to the future. It is here that you meet Dr. Emmet Brown, who you will help gather parts to fix his time machine in the hope to send yourself back to where you came from.
Obtaining these parts is achieved by running errands throughout the city for a number of different characters. These missions usually consist of travelling to a destination, killing a lot of people and then driving elsewhere. This can get a little tedious at times, with even the ‘player’ suggesting that all he seems to do is travel from A to B all the time! If you have ever played an open-world game such as GTA or Saint’s Row, you will feel right at home with the missions that are on offer here.
The retro part of the game’s title comes from the 8-bit artstyle that VBlank Entertainment has used for Retro City Rampage DX. The game uses the top down perspective that the original PlayStation Grand Theft Auto titles did, with visuals that would feel right at home on consoles from the NES and Master System era.
These bright, colourful pixellated graphics combine with a brilliantly bitty soundtrack that will instantly fill those old enough with a sense of nostalgia that is further helped by the amount of references that are apparent throughout the game. With nods to classic 80’s films and games such as Metal Gear, The Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros., Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters and Back to the Future apparent from the off, the developer clearly does have a fondness for the pop culture of yesteryear. This only added to my love for the game with all of these cool items from my childhood popping up and into the game as I was playing.
There are also a lot of references to Batman throughout Retro City Rampage DX, with winks to both the Adam West-era Caped Crusader and the newer, grittier Christopher Nolan style Bats. One of the opening scenes of the game is a direct nod to The Dark Knight, with a Joker-like character escaping a bank heist on a school bus!
Carrying on with the 80’s love-in are the many different filter effects you can select in the game’s options menu. These effects will change the look of the game to give the effect of it being played on a number of different consoles from the period that RCR DX so fondly pays homage to. There is a green-filled Game Boy, an Arcade view where you have a border that details some of the weapons available in the game. When it comes to attention to detail, Retro City Rampage DX oozes with it, I found myself discovering new references every time I played the game, which added to the enjoyment I had with it.
Although I do have a lot of praise for Retro City Rampage DX, there are some elements of the game that don’t fare so well. As mentioned earlier, some of the missions do get a little tedious, especially when to ramp up the challenge the game seems to just increase the difficulty to a level that makes it almost impossible to complete some levels without having to retry an excessive amount of times. This makes some of the missions in RCR DX feel cheap, there were times when I would put the game down and stop playing due to me seemingly hitting a brick wall and not being able to progress. However, this is still a great improvement on the original, where some missions towards the end of the game were nigh-on impossible to complete, so although the game is difficult at times now, it is much easier to see the end than it used to be!
The game’s controls are also a little fiddly at times. When driving through the city of Theftropolis I found that the steering controls were a little oversensitive. One slight nudge of the analogue stick would send you careening off course and into a nearby car or person. This meant that simple journeys across the city often turned into police chases – meaning that at times things dragged out a little longer than necessary. Luckily, another of Retro City Rampage DX‘s new additions proves useful here. When the police are on your back you can either stop and stand your ground, clearing the screen of police will help you lose your wanted level, alternatively you can collect ‘Cop Coins’ that are located around the game’s map to lower your wanted level. I also found that the game’s shooting mechanics were a little off. Retro City Rampage DX promotes an auto-aim system that locks on when you use the Square button to shoot, but I found this a little un-intuitive and instead opted to use the Right analogue stick to control my aim as if I was playing a twin-stick shooter.
These minor grievances aside, Retro City Rampage DX is still a fantastic game that packs a lot of extra things to see and do in for when you finish the main story. Taking everything that made the first game good fun and tweaking the not so great missions and difficulty that challenged many a gamer, Retro City Rampage DX is the definitive version of the Grand Theft Auto-inspired 8-bit crime-spree simulator. Featuring Cross-Buy and Save with the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, this updated version of Brian Provinciano’s Retro City Rampage is worth every penny, even for those who are too young to remember the many classic bits of pop culture the game spoofs so well!