When you think of Sylvester Stallone, two characters in particular are remembered more than any other: Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. One is a boxer struggling his way to the top and struggling even more once at the top, while the other is a downtrodden war veteran struggling to come to terms with the horrors he has witnessed. But if Rambo is traumatised already, imagine what he’d be like if he played Rambo: The Video Game? If the gameplay and controls are anything to go by, he might just go on yet another massacre.
So much is wrong with this game that this review is more of a lesson on how not to make a game. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin…
Firstly, if you’re going to take assets from the films, at least improve the quality a little. The game recounts the exploits of John Rambo through three chapters, meaning that it might be completed in a few hours at best. Production values leave a great deal to be desired as character models look unfinished, environments are not only reused but dull to look at, and the cutscenes look surprisingly worse with their blurred aesthetic. Then there’s the voice acting which sounds like they just ripped it from a DVD box set. There are even times when the game fails to load certain graphics, resulting in a horrible looking mess.
Second, if you’re going to make an on-rails shooter, at least make the game for a platform with the ability for gun controller peripherals and then give gamers the option to play with said controller. This is the main reason that House of the Dead wasn’t very good on the Sega Saturn, but House of the Dead 2 sold Dreamcasts. Dedicated gun peripherals make these types of games playable. Using a standard controller does not.
As such, playing it on a keyboard and mouse or console without gun peripherals or PlayStation Move becomes an arduous task. Lag issues when firing your weapon also hinder progress, while the camera works against you almost all of the time. My time with the game also resulted in frequent crashes, with the last level being the worst offender. In fact, I was even unable to finish the last level on the Xbox 360 version, making this game completely broken.
It’s not like the gameplay is even entertaining. Shoot guys while getting bonus points for headshots on foreigners or disarming cops and bow/arrow stealth sections where missing results in instant kills on you. QTE events sprinkled liberally throughout, with the second level being just one massive QTE event.
All the difficulty settings do is control how many points you get at the end of each level and how many chances you get. Some levels have unforgiving checkpoints combined with instant kill grenades that are hard to shoot at when you’re being relentlessly riddled with bullets. On top of that, your only way to heal is by engaging Wrath mode which drains very quickly and doesn’t heal you by much.
Points mean ranks, which grant uninteresting percentage bonuses to defence, Wrath, and damage from guns. You can unlock new weapons by completing tasks within levels, but these rarely make much of a difference. Co-op is local only, which might make this more bearable, but only in that you can vent your frustration with another player.
At full whack for previous generation console price, Rambo: The Video Game is utter garbage. Some might say that this is an easy target, being based on a film franchise, but this isn’t a movie tie-in. This is a game that sullies its namesake by having insufferable gameplay, dreadful presentation, the fact it is completely broken, and it being way too short to justify any price short of the bargain bin price of sports titles from 2007
Do not even give this game the satisfaction of being in your collection, especially if you are one of those avid Rambo fans. There’ll only be tears at bedtime.