Ride to Hell

As your bike is the most important thing in the game, Deep Silver want to encourage you to take care of it. While it’s impossible to truly destroy it, after too many wrecks you will reduce your ride to an ambling pile of sputtering chrome, making the brief revving minigame to get a bike started all the more difficult. Yup, you’ll need to take good care of your mechanical missus, from gassing her up to occasionally rubbing the SoCal soot from her chassis with a shammy.

But the freedom of biking isn’t without its perils. Bikers in the 1960s were very much outlaws, and from rival gangs to redneck cops, you’ll need to be ready to defend yourself. One scene we witnessed was Ray meeting the core members of the Devil’s Hand gang for the first time in a local dive bar. They seem genial enough, pouring Ray a few complimentary whiskeys and eager to hear his war stories. But as soon as Ray opens his mouth, a drunken yokel overhears him, and starts spouting some very nasty things about the US Military. Inevitably this leads to a brawl, with Ray and the yokel taking things outside.

Were this GTA IV’s Niko Bellic, it would have ended with a quick bullet to the face, but this is the semi-honourable world of bikers, where you bring your fists to a fistfight. Mixing up high and low attacks, Ray dispatches the yokel with a finishing move that leaves the chump lying face down in the dirt. We’re told that these finishing moves will lead to the kind of destructive roadhouse brawling that you’d expect from bikers, leaving smashed glass and busted chairs all over the place in your wake.

And you’d better get used to fighting dirty too – firearms won’t be available until the game’s second act, as Deep Silver aim to encourage the more traditional means of biker combat at the beginning of the game. Of course, their definition of traditional means an assortment of flesh-ripping knives, nailboards and hatchets. Alas, the promised motorcycle combat didn’t get a look in today, but we’re assured that our desire to dispatch foes with a flailing bike chain while atop our chopper will very much be sated in the final game.

Ride to Hell certainly has the atmosphere of the 1960s nailed. From the 300 era-perfect songs (including, yes, Born to be Wild) Deep Silver have licensed, to the mushroom-induced hallucinogenic trips you can send hapless Ray on, this is very much the decade your parents have a hard time remembering. But it’s Ride to Hell’s cast of loonies and sociopaths that stole the show for us today. First up, there’s Dr. Blotter, a ‘freelance chemist’ who makes Dennis Hopper’s photographer from Apocalypse Now look like the pinnacle of sanity. Then there’s Sergeant Hollis, who runs ‘luxury imports’ from a nearby military base, ordering Ray to take a stash of cocaine to a nearby hippy commune, run by a certain Dizzley the Grizzley.

And just as we think we’ve had our fill of Ride to Hell’s colorful characters on screen, the lights flick on and we’re back at the bar, where the knuckle-stroking biker puts down his drink and moves towards us. “Hey little man, you wanna know what I think of your videogame?” He smells like leather and Jim Beam as he tells us. “It’s like my goddamn childhood!”

Jan 29, 2009