Have you ever wondered what you would get if you combined mindless zombies, high speed car racing and a post-disaster city with no sense of law or an established authority? The answer would be Armageddon Riders, the latest attempt at a Carmageddon-esque racer from Russian developer Targem Games. For me, one of the most amusing things about reviewing this game – as my girlfriend quite frequently pointed out – is that I really suck at racing games. Fancy that, a reviewer taking on a game from a genre they are bad at. Oh the irony.
Armageddon Riders doesn’t offer much of a story, which to me is sometimes a good thing. Too often do I see games relying on intricate storylines and characters in the attempt to immerse players into the game, which quite often fails to pull you in a second time after completing the campaign. The most that Armageddon Riders offers in terms of story is a protagonist and a plot.
You play as a mechanic turned racer named “Clutch” who settles in the ruins of Atom City, a place located somewhere in Europe that has been devastated by an unfortunate incident involving a Large Hadron Collider. Aside from those who managed to escape, the rest of the Atom City’s civilians have been turned into marauding zombies. However the bloodthirsty undead are not the only thing Clutch needs to worry about. Gangs of salvagers have taken up residence in the ruins in search of relics of the Large Hadron Collider, hoping to piece the technology together to make big bucks. Aside from that minor piece of lore, there are no cut-scenes present and Clutch utters little dialogue other than to say “yeah” and “woohoo” when you perform particularly well during gameplay.
Armageddon Riders is centred on both racing and vehicular combat, offering eight different modes including standard racing, elimination, demolition derby and defence game types. For each mission you complete you are rewarded with money, which can be used to purchase new cars and upgrades to make them a bit more deadly. Each car has a specific set of upgrades that can be purchased and equipped. Some upgrades are satisfyingly fun to watch time and time again, while the novelty of others wears off rather quickly. In between missions you’ll find yourself racing around the city in free roam, collecting artefacts and ploughing down zombies. There are also other cars running around the city, which you can destroy to acquire more skins for your purchased vehicles. Throughout the game you will find various pickups that give you different abilities such as extra energy, health, extra money and comical value, which will spawn a group of thriller dancing zombies – quite entertaining in itself, but not as gratifying as running them over for a bit of extra cash.
Armageddon Riders features a split screen co-operative mode, so that you and a buddy can team up or work against each other in the various modes available in the single-player. Now, I wasn’t able to look at this area extensively due to lack of a second player. However, from what I did manage to play in the co-op, it seems to mirror that of what is in the single-player campaign, with all cash earned from player two donated to the single-player profile. Furthermore, each player is able to customize their own car via the funds spent from the active profile save game. Aside from that, there isn’t a great deal of difference between the co-op and the single-player offering.
The visuals in this game are quite impressive, given the fact that the download size is around 800MB. The game also boasts quite a meaty frame rate, though there is a bit of screen tearing because of it. Bloom and shader effects are pretty well done, and the blood splatter effects in my opinion are better than some other games I have seen. Instead of the blood splatter just appearing on the screen, it seems to fly out at you – if I were a fan of 3D gaming (which I’m not) I’d totally be digging this. Still, while I think a majority of the visuals are impressive, I found that the car-to-car and car-to-building proportion sizes were way off. If you drive up to some of the buildings and compared the size of the driver to the size of the door graphics… let’s just say that if he were to attempt to open the door, he would need a step ladder. Character detail isn’t the greatest I’ve seen either, but that doesn’t really matter much in terms of a racing game, especially when you’re going to be rampaging through them at 100 miles per hour.
The overall sound effects quality is superb. You can hear every bone crunch, body splatter and grinding squelch in greatest of detail. I do have a problem with the background soundtrack though, as the selection of music seemed somewhat limited. When you hear the same tracks playing on a loop, it does tend to get a bit boring and I think this game could have benefited from custom music stored on the PS3 hard drive. The game also includes 12 Trophies, with an in-game Trophy progress tracker, which can be viewed from the main menu.
In conclusion of this review, Armageddon Riders is not anything ground-breaking. We’ve all seen attempts at this style of game in the past, some which have done it well and others which have failed epically. The thing that sets Armageddon Riders apart from the rest is that it does it relatively well. Despite some of the little things that have irked me, I really do think this is a great game. It will provide those who have a penchant for this type of thing with hours of entertainment, whether playing on their own or with a friend. Oh, and just a little side note to our Australian readers. Armageddon Riders is currently not on sale in the Australian PlayStation Store, as it is yet to be classified.