REPlay Redneck RampageThe Dark Herald
Having covered all of the old Sierra games or at least all of the old Sierra games I gave a crap about, I decided to move on to the nineties proper. That means Doom clones and that means games built with the legendary Build engine.
I’m not going into the history of the build engine here because I know it’s ashamed to associated with this game.
Instead of starting with one of the really great games like; Blood, Shadow Warrior, or Duke 3D. I chose, like a complete retard, Redneck Rampage. Apparently, even thinking about this game lowers your IQ by at least two standard deviations because if I had bothered to consult my memory in a serious way, I would have remembered that this game is a heap of shit.
If I had deliberately set out to RE:Play a game from the 90s that was generally acknowledged as legendarily bad I would have done Dia Katana. And NO, I’m not RE:Playing Dia Katana.
When you picked up a game with a title like Redneck Rampage in the 1990s, you were expecting a few things. One, comedy. Two, over-the-top violence. Three, basic competence in game design. This fps fails magnificently in all of these things.
The absurd part is that this was NOT produced by a studio nobody ever heard of, it was made by freaking Xatrix! This is the same studio that made Kingpin and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
Redneck Rampage stars two ethnic slurs named Leonard and his hyper-obese brother Bubba. Aliens steal the brothers’ prize pig Bessie and start replacing everyone in their hometown of Hickston, Arkansas, with evil clone zombies. The brothers set out to rescue their pig and save the town.
It says a lot about the care that went into this masterpiece that the devs forgot about the stupid pig. In a normal game, Leonard would come across the remains of some feast Bessie had been the star of right before the last boss fight. But the pig is never mentioned again. And don’t embarrass yourself by pretending they were doing some next-level metacontextual humor bullshit, the rest of the game proves they weren’t that smart. They forgot about the damn pig, just accept it.
The maps on this thing are lousy. It’s not just that they frequently go in circles with dead ends for no reason, it’s that there is no build-up. Stuff happens for a while and now, surprise, it’s time for a boss fight. A good map design is going to make it clear that you are heading into something special. These maps just had you going in circles for a while until you stumble onto the boss, kill him, and then hit Bubba in the head with a crowbar to end the level.
The pistol’s aiming mechanics are wonky, they don’t seem to know what they were supposed to do, you know, like hitting what you aim at? The reticule would be dead center on the target, and it wouldn’t register a hit. But just to be fair there is a big part of the time that you wouldn’t know you were being hit yourself because you would get no kind of notification that you had just taken damage. No flashing red screen or anything like that, you just suddenly lose health. Sometimes the mele enemies, like the dogs, do NOT have to actually be near you to injure you.
The “scattergun” has a strictly horizontal spread pattern. That was fine for Doom (1993) but in a post-Duke 3D world, it had no place in anything except a homebrew game mod… Of Doom.
The health and armor system is built around pickups labeled Alcohol and Gut. Of course, it doesn’t work right. They were trying to be clever and failed. Alcohol restores health but if you drink too much you get drunk and then the game becomes unplayable for a while. And unless play with a full HUD you aren’t going to be to monitor how close to drunk you are getting. The system was workable, but the ratios of booze to health are bad. As if there hadn’t been enough beta testing. One of many, many indicators that this game was unfinished.
Let’s see what else did I hate? Oh YES, the invisible damn keys. There is a not-so-fine line between a tough game and a broken game. Making keys hard to find because you found someplace clever to hide them is a making a tough game, that is good. Making a key hard to find because it blends seamlessly and completely into the background is making a broken game, that is bad. What is also bad is giving no indication what so freaking ever, what key opens what door. Another fun mystery, I guess, but on the off chance that you accidentally blunder over a key, you then have to go bump into random locked doors, hoping and praying that you will, at last, find the one that allows you to hit Bubba in the head with a crowbar and escape this hillbilly hellscape.
You can’t even play this thing for the humor because there isn’t any. It’s nothing but fart and poop gags and no, the Cuss Pack doesn’t remotely improve things. Look, I am a product of redneck America, we can take a joke at our expense no matter how crude it is, provided it’s actually funny, or at least all in good fun. But there is an air of viciousness to the gags in Redneck Rampage that I could tolerate a quarter century ago, but not anymore. And. The. Jokes. Are. Not. Funny.
There is a trailer park level with a tornado, and I’ll admit it, the tornado was kind of acceptable. The shit-aliens, however, were not. Your first real boss fight is with a monster called, “ass-face.” That. Is. Actually. His. Name.
There are some nods to doom-clone norms, you face a progression of tougher enemies and better or at least stronger weapons to deal with them. The alien-arm-gun is probably the best in the game overall. Although, I suppose I should mention the… Boob Gun… There, I mentioned it.
You get the… thing I just mentioned by killing a Vixen. The Vixens would have been Gene Roddenberry’s idea of the perfect woman and their tits fire lasers.
The final boss is another Vixen, and the only physical difference between her and the other Vixens is a palette swap, which again screams unfinished game.
All of these issues scream unfinished game.
I am 100% certain that this thing was launched half-ready to beat Shadow Warrior to market, which it did by five months. The truly tragic thing is that it worked. The flaming garbage pile known as Redneck Rampage outsold Shadow Warrior. Or possibly it was so bad it hurt Shadow Warrior’s sales due to a negative halo effect on the whole fps genre.
The game came bundled with the halfway competent sequels by way of apology but I am not accepting the apology.
Finally, there is the music. The music is great! Ten out of ten and I’m not even joking. Redneck Rampage by Mojo Nixon is a psycho-billy ballad that still holds up today.
The music is great and is way too good for a game as bad as fucking Redneck Rampage.
In summary, if you are going to play a bad nineties Doom-clone then play Dia Katana, at least Romero was trying to make something great.