Playstation 3 Reviews Q-R

new Rambo: The Video Game
Grade: D
Publisher: Reef Entertainment (2014)
Reviewed: 2021/5/17
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)

screenshotThere's a Rambo game for the Playstation 3?! I'm as surprised as you are! I think my last Rambo game was Rambo 3 (Genesis, 1989). As a fan of the series, I was intrigued. While technically a first-person shooter, Rambo: The Video Game is a little less Call of Duty and a little more Time Crisis (PS1, 1997).

Aiming with the right thumbstick while pressing the right trigger to fire takes some getting used to. The left stick lets you take cover, often from several angles. This means some enemies may remain in your line of fire while others are blocked - pretty cool! You'll want to reload in the safety of cover, although enemies prefer to reload in the wide open. Occasionally you can recoup health by initiating "wrath" mode that lets you go buck-wild in slow motion.

The story mode is faithful to the Rambo film trilogy. More than just shootouts, hand-to-hand combat and stealth scenes are re-enacted via quick-time events, with dramatic cut-scenes filling in the plot. The action begins in an intense Vietnam war zone. Shoot everyone on the screen and you're automatically whisked to the next area. The transitional scenes are pretty exciting with all the obligatory explosions and helicopter fly-bys. It really does feel as if you're in the middle of a Rambo movie!

Rambo exudes great atmosphere, especially when you're wading through a jungle river at night, picking off guards with your crossbow under the moonlit sky. Music and voice samples are lifted directly from the films. The First Blood chapter goes heavy on quick-time events as you methodically neutralize cops in the woods. What's strange is how the game penalizes you for hitting a button too early! After each stage the body count is tabulated, and in the spirit of 80's action flicks it often extends well into the 100's.

The difficulty is wildly uneven. The opening stage will throw you to the wolves while subsequent stages tend to be quite easy. Rambo is fun but its repetitive shootouts start to wear thin after a while. Worse yet, the frame rate begins to stutter badly during advanced stages. These frame drops not only make it difficult to enjoy the cut-scenes but wreak havoc with your aim.

The game's ace-in-the-hole is its Move controller support, providing the point-and-shoot control of a light-gun title. Pair it up with a navigation controller (to take cover) and the controls feel quite natural. Co-op mode adds an extra set of crosshairs for a second player. Sadly, few PS3 owners are equipped to enjoy the game in this manner. I respect how Rambo: The Video Game stays true to the films but its technical flaws are hard to overlook. Bump up the grade by a letter if you own a set of Move controllers. © Copyright 2021 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

Ratatouille
Grade: D
Publisher: THQ (2007)
Reviewed: 2009/8/29
Rating: Everyone

screenshotBased on the Disney Pixar film, Ratatouille follows the adventures of a culinary-minded rat in Paris by the name of Remy. This was one of the few kid-friendly titles in the first wave of PS3 games, and it's mediocre at best. Ratatouille begins with an obligatory tutorial level that's even more tedious than most. It's like one long obstacle course, and when you finally reach the end, you're informed you need to go back and collect a bunch of "charms" you missed. Ugh!

The main game offers selectable stages that are mission-based, timed-based, or chase scenes. Some missions incorporate stealth elements, which makes sense considering you're a rat in a kitchen! Duh! The difficulty is reasonable, but I didn't find the game to be particularly fun. Most levels seem to have a lot of sticky muck on the floors that slows you down. Running on a ball or flinging yourself across the room with a straw is mildly entertaining, but too many areas require delicate balancing acts. Pole-jumping and tightrope walking require you to use the Six-axis motion controls - a fate worse than death. There's an option to turn these tilt controls off, but without them the game is even harder!

Other than Remy's plush coat and the way his slinky body undulates, the graphics aren't very impressive. You'll scurry through plenty of alleys, kitchens, and sewers, but the angular scenery would be more appropriate for a PS2 game. When you see pipes shaped like octagons, you have to wonder how much of the PS3's power is really being used. The camera controls are awkward and the load times are long. I did enjoy the jazzy musical score, and the cut-scenes are done with good humor. Fans of the movie can probably bump up the grade by a letter, but for the rest of you, this one bargain bin title you can safely resist. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Ratchet and Clank Future: Tools of Destruction
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/12/12
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI was somewhat apprehensive about this new Ratchet and Clank, expecting the same old platform-shooting hijinks with a fresh coat of paint. To some extent, that is true, as our furry hero (Ratchet) and his robot companion (Clank) leap between floating platforms, smash crates, collect missing parts, grapple between hooks, and deal with familiar hazards like electrified water and timed flames. But Tools of Destruction takes the formula to new heights with astonishing planets and a dazzling array of weapons. The destruction quotient is off the charts, with jarring explosions that release hundreds of collectible "bolts" that gravitate towards you automatically.

It's fun to experiment with the imaginative weapons, which include a tornado generator and a disco ball that makes your foes break out into hilarious dance numbers. There are even some exciting space-shooting stages tossed in for good measure. Tools of Destruction has far more depth than previous Ratchet and Clank adventures, evident by the extensive list of moves which consumes about five pages of the instruction manual! And if you think the weapon selection screens are confusing (they are), good luck making sense out of the over-complicated weapon upgrade screens! God bless America!

The save system also threw me for a loop, mainly because it doesn't resume your game exactly where you left off (I guess they didn't have the technology). Even so, Ratchet and Clank Future's learning curve is worth the time investment. Its captivating environments are loaded with breathtaking architecture, and before you can become bored with one place, you're whisked off to a whole new planet. The rainy planet Mukow is a tropical fantasyland, and the gravitationally-challenged space station calls to mind Super Mario Galaxy.

This game has a lot of substance, and the difficulty is just about right. But what really won me over was the brilliant dialogue and brief cut-scenes which manage to be genuinely funny without being stupid or juvenile. Expect to hear PA announcements like "This is your last chance. Lay down your weapons so you may receive the aforementioned whooping." In one funny cut-scene enemy guards mistake Clank for a toaster. This is a very likeable game. Ratchet and Clank Future isn't the most original platform-shooter you've ever played, but it's probably the best. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Resistance 2
Grade: B+
Publisher: Sony (2008)
Reviewed: 2011/7/10
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)

screenshotThe first Resistance was an intriguing first-person shooter and one of the few notable PS3 launch titles. My friend Steve and I loved the split-screen cooperative campaign, so we were pretty psyched about playing through Resistance 2 as a team. Imagine our disgust when we discovered the split-screen coop mode had been unceremoniously axed from this sequel. That's right, the coop mode is on-line only, meaning Steve would have to go home if he wanted to play the freakin' game with me! Oh sure there is a split-screen "competitive" mode, but it takes forever to set up and is over in a flash. This bad initial impression caused this game to collect dust on my shelf for years.

I finally got around to playing the Resistance 2 single-player campaign mode, and it's very good - probably as good as the Halo games. It begins with you and a partner crash-landing into a war-torn countryside ravaged by gigantic killing machines. This opening sequence does a great job of introducing the basics while still maintaining a high level of excitement. The surround sound effects make you feel immersed in a chaotic war, and the ominous musical score lends weight to the proceedings. Like the first game, the frame-rate is fluid and controls are silky smooth.

Blasting monsters is satisfying, and the weapons are fun to experiment with. Most have primary and alternate firing modes, and learning how to leverage these capabilities is part of the fun. The "bullseye" weapon lets you "lock onto" individual monsters before unleashing a series of homing shots. The marksman weapon can deploy a drone that electrifies nearby enemies. The Auger rifle can deploy a transparent shield not unlike the weapon in Halo 2.

Resistance 2 is set in the 1950's, and the quaint Leave-It-To-Beaver scenery provides a nice contrast to the sterile, futuristic alien technology. The game will take you through a sinking sea fortress, a misty forest, and a sprawling alien ship. Locations change often and the pacing is brisk. One minute you'll be creeping through quiet marshland, and the next you're mowing down stampeding zombie hordes in a suburban neighborhood. The monsters are hideous thanks to their multitude of eyes and razor-sharp teeth, and their distinctive roars are alarming. The slimy swimming creatures especially gave me the creeps, elevating my blood pressure whenever I stuck my toe into the water. Certain elements border on cheap, like the zombies who spring out of cocoons, or the semi-invisible Chameleon creatures.

Resistance 2's production values are as good as they get, with professional acting, brief cut-scenes, scary music, frequent checkpoints, multiple difficulty levels, and the ability to save at any time. There's even a tongue-in-cheek instruction manual that has fun with its vintage 1950's theme. A split-screen coop would have completed the package, but I can't deny that Resistance 2 is a quality sequel. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Resistance: Fall of Man
Grade: A-
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/1/31
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, strong language)


screenshotAn outstanding first-person shooter with a compelling storyline to boot, Resistance is easily the strongest of the Playstation 3 launch titles. The action takes place in post-World War II Europe, when biological experiments have run amuck and created an invading army of hideous creatures called the "Chimera". You play an American soldier named Nathan Hale helping to defend England from the onslaught.

Resistance has a very polished look, with crisp visuals, smooth action, and excellent controls. The Chimera are hideous when viewed up close, with their four eyes, huge Baraka-style teeth, and "cooling hoses" hanging off of their backs. The impressive war-torn city streets reminded me of Call of Duty 2 (Xbox 360), but the water in the canals and off of the piers looks awfully fake. The laboratory stages are reminiscent of Doom, and some of my friends have even described the general gameplay as being like Doom.

Still, Resistance has a few tricks up its sleeve. Most weapons have multiple functions, and holding down the R2 button gives you a complete run-down of your current weapon's capabilities. The Bullseye gun lets you first "mark" a target, and after that your bullets zero in on their target with deadly precision. One gun doubles as a grenade launcher, and the shotgun gives you the option of unloading one or both barrels at a time. Several grenades are available (including one that releases hundreds of needles) but the ensuing explosions tend to be so weak it's sometimes hard to tell if you threw one or not.

Resistance gives you several opportunities to man vehicles (including a tank), and that's always a good time. Some areas are loaded with flammable objects, making it fun to set off chain reactions. When certain creatures latch onto you, you can literally shake the controller to knock them off. The two-player cooperative mode is superb, and you can even resuscitate your partner after he goes down. The vertical split-screen provides a decent view, but it's not always obvious where you need to go next.

I normally couldn't care less about the storyline in a first-person shooter, but the game's cinematics gradually drew me in. I found it especially interesting how the hideous creatures are "manufactured" by putting humans through a "conversion process". Resistance is a terrific game that I can play hours on end. It's a shame it was released at the same time as Gears of War (Xbox 360), which has an edge in terms of both graphics and gameplay. Still, Resistance is the one launch title that makes the PS3 almost seem like a decent purchase. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 4 players 

Ride to Hell: Retribution
Grade: D
Publisher: Deep Silver (2013)
Reviewed: 2020/5/11
Rating: Mature 17+ (blood and gore, drug reference, intense violence, partial nudity, sexual content, strong language)

screenshotPeople have been asking me to review Ride To Hell for years, which usually means the game's a steaming pile of horse [expletive]. So I called their bluff. Retribution may be glitchy as all hell but I respect its brand of unabashed machismo. Ride to Hell puts you in the role of some burly biker named Jake. Shortly after reuniting with his uncle and younger brother, a gang called The Devil's Hand brutally murders his brother right in front of him. The story then turns into a Tarantino-esque grindhouse revenge flick, with gratuitous violence, profanity, and people having sex with their clothes on. One by one Jakes exacts his revenge on each of the gang members, running into all sorts of vicious brutes, hot women, and drug dealers along the way.

The game has a good sense of variety. Not only can you fistfight, but you can fistfight on a speeding motorcycle. And not only can shoot people, you can shoot people on a speeding motorcycle. The hand-to-hand combat has a by-the-numbers quality, but it's always satisfying to watch some thug on a bike veer into a guardrail and explode. Actually the best parts of this game are its straight-up racing stages, set on some absolutely gorgeous desert and mountain roads. There's plenty of strategically-placed ramps to jump and stranded oil tankers to slide under.

Ride To Hell's raw theme extends to its graphics, which appear to employ some kind of "dancing textures" technology. The controls could be better too. The steering takes some getting used to, and the game doesn't do you any favors when it comes to aiming your gun. There was one shootout in a brewery that ran so long I damn near quit on the spot. Still, most stages are short and sweet, and the soundtrack has a certain Led Zeppelin-esque groove. Ride To Hell: Retribution isn't so bad. Or maybe it's so-bad-it's-good. It's a high-testosterone brawler that frankly doesn't give a [expletive] what anybody thinks. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Ridge Racer 7
Grade: B
Publisher: Namco (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/1/31
Rating: Everyone (mild language, mild suggestive themes)

screenshotI like Ridge Racer 7, but I liked it better last year, when it was called Ridge Racer 6 (Xbox 360, 2005) . Yeah, this is a pretty shameless rehash, clearly designed to cash in on that wonderful Playstation 3 launch. Like every Ridge Racer title since 1995, the game has an appealing pick-up-and-play arcade feel, with scenic tracks and an emphasis on power sliding. Unfortunately, Ridge Racer 7 is not only a repackaged version of RR6, but in some regards it's not even as good!

The level of graphic detail is the same, but this version is plagued by unsightly jaggy artifacts, most noticeable in fences and lines on the road. The "bleeding" effect of taillights is so overdone that you'll think someone spiked your drink. The reworked menu system provides a less attractive interface, and you now need to complete preliminary "manufacturer trials" to open cars. It's also worth mentioning that the Xbox 360 controllers are better suited for racing, thanks to their comfortable molded triggers.

It's easy to pick on Ridge Racer 7, but let's not get crazy here - the game is still unquestionably fun and madly addictive. Once you get a hang of the drifting, the cars handle like a dream. The scenic tracks range from mountains to airports to seaside resorts. The turbo boost adds subtle strategy, as you need to decide whether to use it early or hold it until the final stretch. The brand new "slip-stream" feature didn't do much for me, and it gives new meaning to the term "rubber-band physics". A few of the techno tunes sound like a broken record, but thankfully the commentary has been spiced up with a woman's voice (in addition to the black dude). Whether you're playing alone, split-screen, or on-line, the game will keep you racing and upgrading for weeks on end.

Xevious is available as a nice bonus game. The loading screen situation is the same as the Xbox 360, which is to say, not very good. Ridge Racer 7 should have probably been called Ridge Racer 6.1 (or maybe even 5.9), but if you're looking for pure racing satisfaction, this is a no-brainer. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, VG247.com, Moby Games