Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Rambo (The Movie): The Video Game: The Experience: The Review (The PS3)

The Logo: The Picture

As I've mentioned before, I finally broke down and got a subscription to Gamefly several months ago.  One of the games on my radar was Rambo: The Video Game.  I had not heard good things about it.  Still, I was determined to try it.  It's an on-rail shooter, and there was a similar one I had played in the arcade that was pretty decent.  How bad could this be?

Sadly, it was de-listed from the US PSN store before I could purchase it.  Well, it was there for awhile, even having a sale, but never low enough for me to take the plunge.  I would have, if I had known that it would be gone soon after that last sale.  When I signed up for Gamefly, it was one of the first games I put in my queue.  It spent a few months staying "unavailable", with brief moments of availability, but didn't coincide with when new games were shipped to me.  Then, fate and a cosmic event aligned, and it was delivered to me in all its disc-ed glory.

Or something like that.  Thankfully my PS3 had enough room left to install the game, and I was eventually on my quest.  The opening cut scene is...not good.  It's hard to knock the graphics, as it is a PS3 game from several years ago, but you can definitely tell it is a budget game.  Still, that's not the important point, the gameplay is.

However, we had to get to that.  Making my way through the menus, I discover that the only thing I can actually do at this point is start the story.  There are no levels to select (not even the first one), no open challenges to complete, and no weapons to switch.  Just starting the story, and assigning a controller.

Wait, what?  I then remembered that, as an on-rail shooter, it could also use the Playstation Move controller.  It was too late for that, so in I jumped.

It was...quite the experience.  Using the controller was a huge pain in the butt.  The actual act of pushing the button to shoot was fine.  So was using the stick to hide (think Time Crisis).  Reloading was not that great, though.  Unlike other, superior light gun games, you can't just pull the trigger again or shoot off the screen to reload.  Instead, you need to push a separate button.  The only reason for this is because the developers wanted to take an idea from Gears of War, and add active reloads.

For the uninitiated, reloading during active reload puts some kind of meter on the screen.  If you time the button press correctly, you get a bonus, hit the "normal" zone to get nothing extra, and hit the bad zone to mess up even further.  Rambo doesn't give bonus damage for correct timing.  Instead you get twice as many bullets.  It's a nice idea, but is then saddled with the bad timing penalty for half ammo.  This might be easier to deal with, as I rarely hit the bad zone, but the meter is really small and hard to see.  It's on the cursor.  While it's where your eyes may naturally rest, it also moves around a lot, and makes seeing a tiny, precise meter on it much harder to learn.  They get a point for trying something, but I found it better to just ignore it completely.

That just leaves one thing left: the aiming.  Aiming with the analog stick was the main reason using a normal controller is such a bad idea.  The sensitivity on the thing is through the roof.  It's very hard to aim precisely, let alone quickly, which is not a good thing in an on-rails shooter.  Shooting is kind of its main thing, and it just wasn't done well.

So, I dug out my PS Move controller and started charging it.  I also found my nunchuck Playstation Navigation controller to pair with it, and charged that too.  Well, attempted to.  I only had the one cable, and charging through the computer didn't do a whole lot.  I switched them when I thought one was done, but it really wasn't.  So, the next night I jumped in again, swapping the charger cord as needed.

Everything was fine until I had to pair the controller.  I paired the Move, and all it would let me do is start the game.  I was worried that the Navigation controller wasn't paired as well, but couldn't figure out how to move the cursor without it.  Plus, since the Move was paired, I couldn't use the regular controller to select anything.  Despite my better judgement, I pressed on.

Using the Move by itself was almost worse than the controller.  In fact, I'm just going to say it is.  Aiming is better, for sure, but that's about it.  It needs to face the screen to work best, and luckily I had a cheap gun attachment.  Advancing through menus required pressing the X Button, which is now on the top, and awkward to hit quickly.  Reloading was done with Square, I think.  That was awful, considering how much you will be doing it.  To get into cover, you had to hold the Playstation Move Button, and flick the controller in that direction.  Truly awful.

I quit out and reloaded the game, since I couldn't find a way to try to pair the Navigation controller with the Move.  When I got to that point again, I tried pairing the Navigation controller first.  No dice. So, I had to pair the Move, and figure out how to actually move the cursor.  Eventually, holding the Move Button and swinging the controller moved the cursor. It's a horrible design.  Why not just put the cursor on the screen and let me use that to highlight and access things?  The implemented way was not only unintuitive, it was unresponsive.  It luckily worked the last time I did it, otherwise I would never have figured it out.

So, I had to select "pair another" to actually sync both controllers to finally play the game the way it was hopefully intended.  By this point, I had started the opening movie/long "hidden" loading screen three times, and sat through too much of it before I could skip to the game.  Now you see why's it's more than a review of the game, but a review of the experience.  So little of my "play" time was actually game play!

As it stands, the game isn't that good anyway.   Aiming was still too sensitive, but the other controls were passable.   Reload was a button on the Navigation controller, and moving to cover used the stick.  You can even throw a grenade, but like the rest of the experience, it's not the most intuitive or accurate thing.

The game claims to go through the whole trilogy, but I wasn't really looking forward to finishing the first stage, let alone several more.   Like similar game ideas, you move from scene to scene, shooting enemies and taking cover.  Reloading feels like a chore.   It just takes too long, and isn't as seamless as shooting off screen or something similar.  There's a rage mechanic thrown in for good measure, which will give you back health when you kill enemies during it.   It's fine, but not enough to save the game.  If you get further than I could stand, you theoretically unlock challenges and different weapons.

It may be more fun with another player, but I can think of much better ways to spend time together.  There could have been a good game from the premise, but it's not Rambo: The Video Game.  If you are so inclined, try it for the sheer novelty, but don't expect anything good.  I'd recommend sticking to the far superior light gun game offerings.

The Good:'s a good use for the Playstation Move controller?

The Bad:
Controls are not good and the game just isn't fun.

The SaHD:
It might not seem it based off my reviews, but I've actually rented good games from Gamefly, too.

(Rambo: The Video Game was rented from Gamefly's service.)