Ride to Hell’s Changing Focus

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Ride to Hell released out this week, shuffled to store shelves for $30. Most care only for the beatdown from critics, a sure-to-be legendary level of disdain for this Deep Silver biker project, at least from those who offer critique. No review copies were offered.

Back in 2009, Play Magazine ran Ride to Hell as their cover story. Pieces of what Ride to Hell could have been remain.

Who knows when things turned sour; that story will likely seep over time as developers tout a tumultuous development period, shifts in management, or disappearing vision. In Play’s feature (January 2009, unavailable online), producers tout biker culture of the ’60s – the game is set in 1969 – as a rough and tumble Vietnam vet returns home. That vet was, at some point, Ray, with slicked back hair and somewhat clean cut. He morphed into Jake, a characterized muscle head, brimming with tattoos and hairstyle that feels positively animatronic as bangs shift side to side.

Here is Ray, via concept art:

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And this is Jake:

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Play’s piece discusses early missions, one specifically in which Ray/Jake delivers a package for a drug dealer which then feeds into the porno culture of the west. Ride to Hell, in its released form, cuts back to the dealer post-delivery without any provocative sexual deviancy. In fact, Ride to Hell’s ludicrous sex scenes will undoubtedly be notorious, appallingly sexist and hysterically fully clothed. Imagine the infamous Hot Coffee Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas fiasco, and you can witness the pathetic excuse for female character development.

Ride to Hell seems to have turned from a rough and tumble peek into the wild lifestyle of free riding veterans into an egregious stereotype of leather clad riders who exist only to maim, screw, and murder.

Of the cuts, which included a vivid lighting engine and wild upgrades (now a pittance), the slice in budget or total redevelopment was costly to those spirited open world ideas. Ride to Hell is now clustered in parts, remnants of its open world ambitions tightly clasped into chunky, poorly plotted action scenes. Dialogue makes no sense or references items that don’t exist, and spirited biker road trips are awfully small. There are no freedoms or adherence to basic physics.

Reading Play’s back issue shows a developer with a promising endeavor; Ride to Hell was not birthed or rushed through production. Instead, early 2013 debacle Aliens: Colonial Marines certainly shares its attributes, a tumultuous period of design that was uprooted – maybe more than once – to make room for a shortened, cheaper vision, if only to push something out to recoup losses. In the end, it’s the consumer who takes the hurt.