Retro City Rampage DX review for PS Vita, PS4, PS3

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PS3
Publisher: Vblank Entertainment
Developer: Vblank Entertainment
Medium: Digital/Blu-ray
Players: 1
Online: No

The first time I played Retro City Rampage — two years ago on the Vita, before it had been reissued with a “DX” at the end — I never really got into it. I played it for about half an hour, chuckled a few times at the referential humor, and then put it off to the side and never played it again. I had it pegged as a game that was more style than substance, that used retro graphics and all kinds of ’80s references as a substitute for being interesting.

Now that it’s back — with that aforementioned “DX” at the end of its name — I’m thinking I may have been a little harsh in my initial assessment. Yes, it goes heavy on the retro and yes, you can spend a good chunk of it playing “Spot the ’80s reference!”. But beneath all that, it’s actually really addictive. Every mission seems to lead naturally into the next, and it doesn’t hurt in this regard that as soon as you’ve finished one mission, there are literally flashing arrows directing you to your next stop. That makes it incredibly hard to ever put the game down, and more often than not, this meant that I’d find myself playing for far longer than I’d originally intended.

Retro City Rampage DX 2

That said, what really hooked me this time around was everything you could do between missions. You wouldn’t think that an 8-bit game could be that expansive, but…well, it is. Retro City Rampage DX’s city is huge, with all kinds of neat side missions and distinct districts to explore. Even more importantly, though, it’s a well-populated city, which means that not only is there always the possibility of discovering more, there’s also plenty of opportunity to indulge your inner psychopath and drive around like a maniac. In fact, it’s practically encouraged, in a way that would never fly in more realistic (or, at least, more graphically advanced) games like GTA or Saints Row: you get points for the number of pedestrians you can mow down one after another. It’s horribly amoral, but it’s also pretty fun, particularly once you factor in the fact that your vehicles are always significantly more powerful than the cops who will instantly jump out of the cars and start chasing you, guns drawn.

Of course, it could be argued that all this non-stop action is just there to distract you from a lack of substance. And while I don’t think I’d phrase it quite so harshly, I wouldn’t not say that, either. Retro City Rampage DX is designed to be a fun, winking nod to ’80s action movies and games, but I don’t get the sense that said winking is intended to go any deeper than “LOL ’80s!”.

Retro City Rampage DX 1

But that’s okay. Some games are designed to make you think, and some are just designed to be enjoyed. Retro City Rampage DX knows which side of that divide it falls on, it never pretends to be more than that, and it’s got enough non-stop action that it’s able to pull that off with ease.

Grade: B+