THE FUTURE. Sick of being taken advantage of by power hungry, money grubbing fat cats, the disenfranchised people of the city of Ashen rise up against their oppressors the only way they know how: by forming motorcycle gangs and hitting each other with big sticks. This is Road Rage: a dreadful vehicle combat game that is probably only marginally more fun than the biker-ruled future apocalypse it's set in. 

Driving in this game is unequivocally awful. You accelerate with R2 and you brake with L2. Trying to turn corners at anything other than the pace of a particularly lackadaisical gastropod is a fool's errand since you can't drift, and your bike has the turning circle of the Queen Mary -- the massive boat, not the wife of King George V. You can use your handbrake -- bizarrely mapped to X -- to try and take corners at a higher speed, but it's so finicky to use and so wildly unpredictable in its effects that it rarely results in anything other than a poorly animated crash and the grim realisation that the only penalty for death in this game is immediate resurrection and the instruction to carry on playing.

The contact physics in Road Rage are almost uniformly broken. You can brush against a blade of grass and you'll explode in a massive fireball, and other times you can drive face-first into a car and you just comically fly up tens of feet into the air -- still sat on your bike -- before landing safely on two wheels, ready to ride again. Hitting other bikers with various forms of melee weaponry should be pretty rad, but instead it's a bit of a roulette as to what will happen every time you swing. You'll clock someone with a metal pipe and they'll laugh at you as they ride off to victory, but then a rival will swing at you, miss by about twelve feet, and the air behind the swing will send you flying off your bike into an early grave. Sometimes when you're riding along you'll just fall through the asphalt for no reason and spiral slowly in a grey void, mercifully granted the sweet embrace of nothingness until you're tragically reincarnated and forced to continue playing the game.

There's a bunch of different mission types beyond simple races and time trials and they all come with a catalogue of issues. The ones where you have to kill rival gang members has you checking your mini-map to see where the villains are, hunting them down, swinging for them with your baseball bat, and hoping that it'll actually work. The rival bikers are appalling drivers -- so appalling, that one questions why the revolution of choice in Ashen ever involved motorcycles at all -- and they will, every ten seconds or so, crash into something and die. Them being dead via the medium of vehicular misadventure is, apparently, not the right kind of dead, and they must die by your whacking with a big stick alone. So you chase after them, and then when you've almost caught up they'll crash into a car or a bee or something, die, respawn somewhere else, and you chase them again. It just happens over and over, like the game is intentionally wasting your time, constantly daring you to turn it off in frustration.

Then there's the stunt missions, although, perhaps, "stunts" is overselling it a little. There's ramps littered all over the city for "air time", and you can pull a wheelie, or drive close to cars without crashing in a "near miss." Instead of avoiding the ramps, regular AI cars will bizarrely drive up them, and then once they get to the top they just fall off, tip over, and land on their roofs. Sometimes they explode. Perhaps the AI drivers became self-aware and realised that they were trapped in a computer generated world, and faced with the prospect of living inside Road Rage in perpetuity, decided to stick a middle finger up to the machine gods and end it all, tragically unaware that death could not contain them and they'd just respawn elsewhere in the city, fated to do it all again. Maybe the AI is just abysmal. Either way, the stunt mode is weird because you can't really do any stunts, and relying on AI cars for near misses is incredibly annoying since sometimes you can drive around the barely populated open world for ages without coming across another vehicle.

The lack of graphical heft here is to be expected from a smaller title such as this, but the design aesthetic of the game seems utterly rooted in the early PS2-era. The soundtrack is similarly dated, with half of the tunes on offer being nondescript nu-metal clangers that sound like late '90s pro-wrestling entrance music, and the other half being cheap knock offs. There's one rip-off of The Prodigy's 'Smack My B-word Up' that is so blatant and brazen in its imitation that the developers would probably be getting a cease and desist order if anybody affiliated with the band is unfortunate enough to ever play the game. That the music is probably the best thing about Road Rage is a sad commentary in itself.

Conclusion

Road Rage is an open world motorcycle combat game that is so shoddy in every single facet of its being that it could function as parody without actually changing a thing. A game of this dubious merit is so rare that it belongs in a museum, destined to be studied by the gaming scholars of the future in How Not To Make a Video Game 101. The list of offences that Road Rage perpetrates are so heinous in nature and so humorous in quantity that the strict 1,000 word limit imposed upon the humble reviewers here by the Push Square overlords can't possibly do it justice. So let's just say it's a broken, bewildering, shambolic mess, and never speak of it again.