Everyone who has been around video games long enough knows that when a movie has a video game alter-ego, it is most likely a publicity stunt instead of a genuine interest in developing a deep and engaging gaming experience. This reality has spread to the point where the term “movie game” is synonymous with something most players want to stay away from. Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.): The Game is a movie game, but is it a movie game?
Developed by Old School Games / Published by Atlus
Available on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Reviewed on Xbox 360.
*Review Code provided by Atlus
Plot-wise, the game revolves around a dead cop who has been recruited to help in the afterlife and police ‘deados’ (dead people who refuse to die) who are avoiding final judgment. These deados are hiding in the realm of the living—terrorizing them—all the while satisfying a new-found crave for gold (Because, you know, dead guys need gold). Story-wise, don’t expect anything more than an initial cut-scene which fills you in on this information above because there is nothing more to it. After this initial scene you are thrown into the game world, which is nothing more than fighting off waves of deados.
RIPD: The Game is a cooperative arcade shooter. It will have you fending against deados in a two-player survival mode and taking the role of either Jeff Bridges or Ryan Reynolds. You can go online and find matches with random players, or party with a couch buddy. This is where the first problem of RIPD: The Game makes an appearance: matchmaking often takes longer than a match itself if you are not already partied up with a friend. You can only be matched with someone who has chosen the other character, so if you chose Ryan, you only have a chance of being matched with someone who chose Jeff. This could’ve been avoided if you could decide once you are already matched up, but as it is, you are forced in being matched with someone who happened to pick the other partner, resulting in longer wait times. For a game which centers on cooperative play, this seems like a crucial aspect which should have little to no room for error, but this is not the case here.
Once you are matched up, you are not eased into the experience: there is no tutorial or training mission. You will instead be relying on your intuitions as a video game player to instinctively know what button does what. You’ll also receive hints while you’re in the game as to what you can and are able to do in the missions. This is something I did not particularly find appealing, as it forces you to scramble for survival by pressing buttons in a trial-and-error fashion until your next hint appears. Gameplay is also almost unceasing; enemies are always present and pursuing. It is because of this reason that learning by trial-and-error will be a little more frustrating than it would be if you had more breaks between the waves of enemies.
The developers try to spice things up with challenges that must be completed in some waves, and these provide somewhat of a twist to the shooting action by having you kill X number of enemies while standing in a specific location of the map, or melee killing Y number of enemies. These challenges don’t vary greatly, but do provide something else to focus on. However, it is evident this is only a rushed attempt at providing something else to do.
To sweeten combat up a bit more, you are also capable of launching special abilities once you collect enough points. They do help out greatly once you find out what each one does; my personal favorite being able to deploy a decoy and make yourself invisible, allowing you to escape pretty much any hairy situation.
The lack of a mini-map and cover system in a game which will constantly have you pinched in a corner whilst defending yourself and your friend leaves much to say about the level of devotion this game’s cooperative aspect received: close to none. The lack of a mini-map promotes a focus on the immediate threat in front of you, but it also makes for you not being able to discern which is the quickest way to your challenge objective or your partner should he/she wander off and split up. Instead, there is an overhead on-screen display of your partner’s name which is the only indication of where he happens to be, but again, there’s no way of knowing how to get there and it will have you running into trouble when you are looking for help. The lack of a cover system will have you dashing through the map with no real defense while doing so. Combine this with the missing mini-map, and navigating each stage will have you coming face to face with deados when you want to reach your buddy, making it more of a chore than a fun experience.
There is nothing spectacular to be said about RIPD: The Game. Yes, it is exactly what it is, “a movie game.” The lack of a story arc, flawed matchmaking, no training/guide on how to play, rushed attempts at providing variety, and a lack of helpful features like a mini-map and cover system all combine to prove that RIPD: The Game is little more than just another rushed movie game looking to cash in on the free publicity ride its gaming counterpart provides. There’s no incentive to purchase this unless you want to somehow be involved with either the movie or its actors and be willing to compromise in gameplay, which, call me crazy, should be the biggest selling point of any game.