Scene at a company board room.
Executive A: We have a neat car combat racing game, but we don’t have anything to set it apart. It will be really hard to market it, especially against the latest “BurnUp” game.
Executive B: Let’s get our PR department in here to see what’s hot.
(A group of five â€œYesâ€ men and women run into the board room, holding clipboards and charts.)
PR Person 1: It seems that demographically the younger set is being drawn towards the â€œurbanâ€ or â€œhip-hopâ€ setting.
PR Person 2: Yes, Bad Auto Theft: San Lucas was a cash cow.
Executive A: True, but we don’t want to compete against Bad Auto Theft, because this isn’t that kind of game.
PR Person 3: That’s alright. Have you heard of Deaf Jab Revenge? It’s basically a wrestling game with rap characters. You have Double Quarters and Shoop Doggy making their own video games. Tell us what you got.
Executive B: It’s a car combat racing game.
PR Person 4: I think we can work with that. Kids like to upgrade their Yugos and Kias and tune them into fast and slick machinesâ€¦it’s all the rage. Let’s make these cars into vehicles like those and give them names like â€œBad Boyâ€ so that we don’t have to pay royalties.
Executive A: But won’t that be too close to the â€œRequirement of Speed: Hidden Groundâ€ series?
PR Person 5: Nope, because we have car combat in there too. We can put some weapons on the vehicle, but if we put a gunner in the car that has the ability to switch weapons and aim at any vehicle, that will be different.
PR Person 1: Not only that, but we can put in ESCORT MISSIONS and DEATHMATCH!!!
PR Person 2: Better yet, make them run through mine fields and cause them to blow up.
PR Person 3: Don’t forget to change the company logo into a huge piece of jewelryâ€¦do the kids call that â€œBlingâ€ nowadays? They’ll go nuts over that.
Executive A: Alright. Talk to the developers and have them get on this right away.
While I can’t say that this is exactly what happened when 187 Ride or Die was being developed, it doesn’t seem to be that far from the truth. 187 Ride or Die is a car combat racing game set in an urban setting. You take the role of Buck, a book smart, street smart kid taken off of the street by Dupree. When Dupree’s turf is threatened by Cortez, Dupree calls in Buck to assist protecting Dupree’s turf.
The graphics in 187 are disappointing. The car models are rather rudimentary. While some cars do look boxy in real life, all of the cars in this game do. While they do have some shine to them, the textures are rather blurry and lack detail. The backgrounds have even less detail and the textures are flat. However, the particle effects of the explosions are well done and give you a sense of shaking when a gas station blows up. Causing a car to explode triggers a slow-motion cut scene, which is a nice feature to see your carnage up close.
While poor graphics can be discouraging, if a driving game doesn’t give you a sense of speed, it can kill the game. This is the case is 187. While the turbo does give you a bit of a blur effect and tunnel vision, the sense of speed during the rest of the game is non-existent.
As you might expect, 187 features a lot of rap music, complete with the dialect and foul language. If you can stand the music, then you’ll enjoy it. If you don’t, or don’t listen to it regularly, then it all sounds pretty much the same.
The voice acting done for Dupree during the intro movie is spot on. However, he does speak a little slowly. The mission briefings and debriefings are voiced over by Dupree. The funny thing is that you get a four-line explanation for what you are doing, and then a summary like, â€œFinish first,â€ to explain what to do in the mission. However, during the missions Buck doesn’t do more than yell at the driver. There aren’t many phrases that are used, so you will hear them over and over again.
The cars really don’t have any negligible sound differences, whether you are driving a sports car or a muscle car. The cars do squeal when starting up or going into a skid, and you will hear the damage done to other cars as you rub up against them. The gunfire does sound different from each other, but they lack the oomph that they really should have. Even the explosions aren’t all that impressive.
187 uses more buttons on the PS2 controller than you’d probably expect. The left analog stick and directional buttons control steering, while X accelerates and square brakes. Triangle drops your current weapon and circle switches weapons. The L1 hits the boost and L2 gives the rear view. R1 shoots forward while the R2 shoots backwards.
The controls aren’t bad, but there are some issues. Since the PS2 doesn’t have a trigger for acceleration, it’s harder to make precise adjustments to your acceleration. There also seems to be a bit of a delay when you push the button to fire and when you actually fire.
The story of the game has you following Buck as he does jobs for Dupree. Your missions can take different forms. These modes include doing laps while destroying other cars, escorting vehicles from point A to point B, or taking out a vehicle being escorted by enemies. You start out by selecting a mission on a map. Once you have selected your mission, you get a briefing from Dupree. Then you jump head first into a mission. Yes, you drive laps against rival gangs, or throw land mines on the road. Sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Here are all the modes that you will encounter. The Whip Race is a race to the finish line, bumping and shooting each other. Driving over power-ups will give new guns and restore the health of the car. Minefield is similar, except that the only power-ups on the racetrack are mines. You have a default weapon to use though. Deathmatch places you in an arena with the object of making more frags than your opponents. Death Race is a speed race, but the car in last place for the lap is blown up and out for the rest of the race. Escort has you protecting a car, while the Hit has you trying to take out a target car with three cars escorting it. In Bomb, you need to stay over a specific speed while trying to reach a specific point. If you slow down too much, you will be bombed. In Survivor, you are placed in an arena similar to Deathmatch, except you need to kill all of the opponents in the arena yourself. In the Lot, you must escape from a parking lot from the top floor, defeating groups of enemies and then killing a boss at the very end. Finally, there is Po-Po Chase. In this mode the police cars are indestructible and there aren’t any weapon power-ups. You need to escape using only Boost and Life power-ups.
There are a few other modes besides the Story Mode. In Quick Hits, you can replay any stages you’ve already unlocked. There are Multiplayer and Online menu options, which will be covered more in the Value/Replay section. The Bonus menu has a tutorial, story mode movies, and gives you access to additional content.
So we have plenty of game modes, and a silly story. However, the story can be forgiven if the gameplay is actually good, right? Well, here we have an example of quantity over quality. The lack of a sense of speed really hampers the game. Not only that, but there is a lack of challenge with the game. The game is also relatively short because of the lack of challenge. While the modes are different, they all feel the same. The weapons all feel very underpowered. The default weapon doesn’t do more damage than a pea shooter. Knocking rival cars really doesn’t do anything. This is no Burnout where you can run other cars off the road. The gameplay feels very unsatisfying.
The Multiplayer option offers two player split-screen or cooperative modes. The multiplayer modes available are the Whip Races, Deathmatch, and Minefield. In cooperative mode, player 1 is the driver and player 2 is the gunner. You can set the track, number of laps, and the number of AI players. For Deathmatch, you can also set the ability to respawn, the time limit for the game, and frag limit.
The online component is very similar to the Multiplayer, with a few online differences. While online you can check news about the game, find a game to join quickly, join games with a specific criteria, create a new game with the options you want, and access your players list for the game. It’s doubtful you’ll be seeing many people playing this one.187 Ride or Die feels like a game that wanted to try to cash in on the urban hip-hop movement. Even the manual is littered with catch phrases that are supposed to reflect the dialect of the culture and draw you into the experience. Unfortunately, no mater how â€œhipâ€ the culture is for the background story, without a good game, it falls flat. Take a ride, and let this game die a quick death.