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187 | Ride or Die | review | game | Lollipop

187: Ride or Die

(Ubisoft for PS2)
by Mike Delano

One might assume space constraints were what kept the makers of 187: Ride or Die from cramming more than two gangsta clichés into the title of their car combat game, but after playing it, another more likely explanation surfaces: They just didn't care.

The makers didn't care about writing an engaging or even cohesive narrative. They weren't concerned with milking anything more than late-generation Nintendo 64 visuals from the Playstation 2 hardware. They certainly didn't care about creating a game that's fun to play for any reason other than to marvel at its inability to render anything the least bit believable from its overwrought Los Angeles gang war premise.

A mildly intriguing-rendered introduction sets the scene: You're Buck, a young man raised under the wing of Dupree, a gang kingpin who recently survived an attempt on his life by Cortez, a rival gang leader. As is told in hilariously labored gangsta-speak, Buck is now old enough repay all of Dupree's kindness by decimating Cortez's crew.

Revenge, it seems, is to be dished out solely in the form of high-speed drive-bys. You both drive the vehicle and control Buck as he shoots wildly at oncoming cars from the passenger seat. Accuracy is a joke; just mashing the fire button when near an opponent produces sporadic results, which is especially frustrating when missions require not just finishing first in a race but destroying rival cars.

Lest the gritty marketing campaign behind the title lead you to believe the racing has any relation to the sprawling environments in the Grand Theft Auto or Need for Speed: Underground series, be warned that the meat of the game revolves around tracks similar in size to those in a Mario Kart title. The similarities to cart racers don't end there: The floating power-ups and big red land mines drive home the point that this was a premise better suited for a three-minute spin in an arcade than as a $50 console title.

When Buck isn't racing around a track, he's thrown into an arena setting where he must gun down other cars in scenarios somehow even more ill-advised than the rest of the game, thanks largely to controls which are primitive when compared to the like-minded Twisted Metal series, which is now almost 10 years old.

It's clear the makers of 187: Ride or Die thought if they yelled enough worn-out gangsta phrases into the ears of gamers weaned on the sub-San Andreas scraps of Narc and the like, they'd turn some heads before the game's archaic structure and horrific execution was discovered. But it takes more than hammy voiceovers from Guerilla Black and car names like "Corrupt" and "Big Pimpin'" to pass for street cred these days. Y'all been warned.


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