Adaptations are tricky things. Managing to retain the spirit of the original source material whilst creating your own indelible stamp on what is essentially someone else’s brainchild is no easy feat.
RIPD – The Game, is actually an adaptation of an adaptation. The game of the movie of the comic, Rest in Peace Department by Peter M Lenkov. The guys at Old School Games had their work cut out for them from the outset especially if you consider that the movie this game is primarily based on is currently sitting at an abysmal 11% on Rottentomatoes.com
It’s a shame too because the basic premise of RIPD sounds like it would make a great film/game.
After being mysteriously killed during a drugs bust, veteran boston cop Nick Walker is offered a position within the RIPD (Rest in Peace Department) , thanks to his years as a lawman. Together with his new partner Roy Pulsifier, a sheriff from the old west, the two of them are tasked with hunting down and eliminating ‘Deados': souls that have escaped from hell to continue their life of crime from beyond the grave.
So you’d expect that in the game you’d be attempting to track down Deados and arrest them whilst trying to figure out who killed Nick. However this being an XBLA movie tie in our hopes of Men in Black x Ghostbusters or just a cool adventure are pretty much quashed from the get go.
After the games opening explains the above premise via a comic strip style cinematic, I was slightly disappointed to find that the game itself is a typical rushed movie tie in. In this case an online, 2 player, co-operative, arena based, third person shooter in which you play as Walker and Pulsifier, blasting wave after wave of angry-looking lepers, sorry, Deados against the clock in one of seven maps based on areas seen within the film and one final unlockable eighth in which you confront the man who killed Walker.
The minute to minute gameplay feels a lot like Old School Games last offering, God Mode, which was by and large a pretty enjoyable game. RIPD has a similar challenge system which instead of modifiers gives you different things to achieve in each wave, mostly simple things like killing certain targets within a time limit or to try to get through the wave without dying.
Before the game starts you can also chose to place a wager between yourself and your partner on different factors such as kill count, head shots, abilities used and if you fancy it have duel at the end to take the additional pot. This works on a nice voting system in which each player takes it in turns to remove a proposed wager until there’s only one remaining.
There’s also a nice killstreak system which unlocks different abilities depending on how many Deados you’ve managed to kill. As you’d expect these one shot abilities get increasingly more powerful with each bad guy you mow down. This adds a slight level of strategy to proceedings. Do you use the chains that hold enemies in place or do you hold off until you can drop a turret that will simply take them out? Or do you hold off for the tentacles that instakill everything in the area?
This is quite useful as the game’s AI is pretty much brain dead, Deados with melee weapons just run blindly at you regardless of whether you’re firing at them or not. Likewise armed opponents will scuttle about firing at you constantly with no regard for cover or anything else. Occasionally they’ll be accompanied by healers which teleport in and heal any other enemies around them and then bugger off, before zapping straight back in and repeating the process. This isn’t that much of an issue unless they are accompanied by the games larger brute enemies which are utter swines as they can knock you down by charging into you, and they will, over and over and over again until you are dead, and there is absolutely no way of getting back up if they catch you in their annoying game of oopsy daisy.
If you manage to survive until to the end of the level though you’ll receive gold for all the Deados you killed and a bonus if you won the games wager, which is then used to unlock and upgrade your current arsenal as well as equipment that will give you buffs for a single encounter, giving you explosive ammo that does more damage, a flack jacket which reduces damage dealt by enemies and many others.
You start the game with access to a shotgun, a pistol and sub-machine gun with an eye to progress to more powerful weapons like an assault rifle, harpoon gun and shiny golden revolver used by Pulsifier in the film. The only problem is that none of the weapons really feel all that distinctive from one another. The golden revolver for example feels no more powerful, initially, than the games standard pistol and is a lot more sluggish. So you might as well plough all of your earnings into upgrades for the already unlocked guns instead of unlocking new ones.
Not that it matters that much anyway because with only eight maps the entire game can be completed relatively quickly even if you don’t bother upgrading anything.
Although the game is predominantly online focused if you want to play solo you can by creating your own game instead of using quick match. I wouldn’t recommend it though. A partner seems to take the edge off of most of the games foibles but by yourself it feels almost unplayable at times because every last bastard on screen attacks you at once with no respite, which leads to numerous deaths and more often than not the clock running out before you can make a dent. Chances are that you’ll more than likely have to play the game solo most of the time as well because, at time of publishing, it’s very hit and miss if you actually find anyone else to join you in a match. Which, with the game being out for less than a week, is not a great sign.
Fact of the matter is that although RIPD isn’t the worst game in the world, in fact with the right partner it can be quite fun at times and the maps, although relatively generic places like for example; a library, a subway station and a nightclub, are all well designed. It’s just that there are much more deserving games out there, like Good Old Games Last release – God Mode, which does a lot of similar things to RIPD, just better and isn’t shackled to a mediocre movie adaption for inspiration.
So should you get RIPD? I think it all depends on how much you like the thought of slightly misshapen versions of Van Wilder and The Dude killing what can best be described as hordes of angry homeless lepers at various municipal buildings in and around the Boston area.
Sure it sounds fun on paper, but the reality is that the game, just like the movie, never manages to live up to the potential of its premise.