187 Ride or Die is a laugh out loud funny game, which may have been a good thing if it was meant to be a comedy. Instead, the game becomes proof that just because you can use the words 'gangsta', 'dawg' or 'dizzle' in a sentence, it doesn't necessarily make you Snoop Dogg.
187 Ride or Die's over the top attempt at gaining street cred seriously overshadows the actual gameplay itself, which presents players with a decent, if uninspiring, car combat game with simple mechanics and impressive graphics. You'll find yourself focusing instead on the unintentionally hilarious hip-hop inspired theme, which smacks more of Ali G than Warren G. Here's a taster: "Buck, you gettin' crunk out in these streets dog. You can blaze up the next hood if you want. Keep it gangsta."
While the game shares the same urban gangster flavour of many other street racing titles, the gameplay in 187 Ride or Die has more in common with Mario Kart than with Midnight Club. Races are held on bustling city streets, with weapons and power ups located on the 'tracks' for players to pick up and use. Once you pick up a weapon, your in-game character can lean out of your vehicle's top and blast his opponents.
Controls are fairly simple -- X is for accelerate, Square is used for braking, Circle switches weapons, while pressing R1 will shoot your weapons forward and pressing R2 will shoot them behind you. L1 is used for boosts, which you gain by powersliding around corners. The feel of the game is definitely more arcade than simulation, so gamers should have no problems in quickly getting accustomed to 187 Ride or Die's racing.
The game also has another control scheme which lets you free aim with the analog controllers, but most players will probably stick with the auto-locking standard version. The game's weapons unfortunately don't feel too different from each other -- sure there are shotguns, assault rifles, mines and more, but most of them feel rather underpowered and unexciting (apart from the one-shot one-kill rocket launcher).
The game lets you race in several different car types, such as pick-ups, SUVs and muscle cars, with each type of vehicle featuring different speed, handling and armour ratings. Most of the races you'll find yourself in are basic first-across-the-line affairs, although the game does feature some variations. One game mode requires you to destroy all your opponents while racing in an enclosed environment, for example, while another automatically eliminates the last placed driver after every lap.
Despite these variations in gameplay mode and vehicles, 187 Ride or Die feels quite repetitive, as players are forced to compete in the same few types of modes over and over again. The game also suffers from having tracks that are too small -- it hardly feels like you're in an expansive, real city when you're racing. Another issue is that the game seems to have some rubber banding issues going on -- opponent cars will always be on your tail no matter how well you drive, and they'll automatically slow down a bit if you're lagging too far behind. This makes the final lap of any race critical.
To its credit, 187 Ride or Die looks quite impressive, with the environments having that wet sheen common to these types of street racers and excellent detail on the vehicles themselves. Races are kept to six competitors at one time, which results in a steady framerate that doesn't lag.
But chances are, its the game's cheesy plot and hip hop hysterics that will catch your attention more than the graphics. The game tries so hard to be 'edgy' that it veers completely off course and turns into parody. For example, here's another line from early in the game explaining your mission objectives in the upcoming race:
"It's time to do your thug dizzle, Buck. You only got a short time before one time hits the scene, so you best burn your heater on as many of Cortez's punk ass crew. The deal is dog, don't let these fools murk you. You heard? Holla back."
The game is filled with these hip hop terminology mangles, making the whole thing feel incredibly forced. On the flipside, the dialogue in 187 Ride or Die can certainly qualify as being 'so bad it's funny', so if you're in a generous mood it can become quite a source of amusement.
But this is a game, not a movie, so chortling at voiceovers and cutscenes will only get you so far. The bad news is that while the gameplay in 187 Ride or Die can provide some thrills, it lacks the depth of other street racers available and becomes rather repetitive.
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