Rambo: The Video Game is based on the original trilogy of movies from the 1980’s. Fans have been enjoying the adventures of Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo for over 30 years. Did we need a new game retelling the story? It seems that developers Teyon and publishers Reef Entertainment thought we did. We donned our red bandana’s to take a look at the game on PC.
The first thing to point out is that this isn’t just your standard first person shooter dressed up like Rambo. It’s actually a mix of on-rails shooters like the classics Operation Wolf and Time Crisis. Throughout the game you play as Rambo as you get to experience the developers take on key events from the first three movies. The on-rails mechanic allows the developers to control where you go to ensure the story plays out the way they want.
We must admit our first couple of hours with the game were terrible. We couldn’t get on with the shooting mechanics at all with mouse and keyboard or gamepad. Aiming was near impossible and framerates were terrible on our mid-range machine. Thankfully patching our graphics and mouse drivers fixed the issues and the game played fine afterwards.
The game would probably be best played with a light gun and PS3 users can attempt to do just that with PS Move. With gamepad we had mixed success and found that free aiming to be too inaccurate. Turning on the aim assist wasn’t much better either. On PC we found mouse and keyboard to be the way to go which made headshots almost as easy as painting by numbers.
The levels use a mix of on-rails shooting and Quick Time Events. Shooting tends to throw a wave of enemies at you and you need to clear them before it moves you to the next area or wave. Most areas have between one and three cover points that you can move between. It’s essential to take cover to prevent from taking too much damage.
Rambo has a variety of his favourite weapons on offer throughout the missions. There’s everything from his trusty combat knife, to pistols, assault rifles, heavy weapons and bow and arrows. Guns implement a version of Gears of War’s active reload system. Tapping the right mouse button starts a reload and a second tap can be used to try for a perfect reload. Doing so doubles your clip size, leaves you with a normal clip or jams your gun wasting valuable time and reducing your bullets.
Rambo also has a wrath bar that fills up as he kills. When full you can enter Wrath mode which highlights enemies, grants infinite ammo and kills then replenish your health bar for a short period. As you play you also earn XP which levels Rambo up to grant him skill points. These can be spent on different areas of skills such as increased damage dealt or reduced damage taken.
Achieving certain tasks earns Rambo perks. Once fully levelled Rambo can have three perks active and these can make things considerably easier. They make Rambo feel much more of a badass like he should. Our favourite perk was one that granted 5% health with each headshot allowing Rambo to constantly top up his health. New weapons can also be unlocked by completing Colonel Trautman’s Challenges.
In addition to the shooting levels which make up the bulk of the gameplay the developers have also tried to add in some variety. Some sections Rambo gets to try a more stealthy approach by using his bow and arrows to take out enemies. Other parts use QTE’s and your timing can affect the outcome. When up against the officers of Hope in First Blood you are rewarded for disabling them rather than killing them. This means you need to shoot their weapons or their limbs to avoid killing them.
Rather than just focus on telling the story the developers have added replayability by building a score attack game. This was a smart move and will keep players coming back. Your actions can build a score multiplier and you need to be aggressive and plan your timings in order to keep the multiplier high. Mastering the score mechanics is essential if you want to chase the leaderboards or compete against friends.
Graphically the game is a mixed bag. At times it looks rather good but then there are also parts that can seem quite poor. It uses a likeness of Sylvester Stallone as Rambo which at times seems quite accurate and other times he can look rather deformed and out of proportion. For speech the game uses snippets of sound from the film and the quality of these seem a bit hit and miss.
Although rough in places we’ve come away far more impressed by Rambo than we were expecting. Once you get into the game and how the scoring works it’s surprisingly addictive. It’s certainly not for everyone but fans of Rambo and light gun style games should find a good few hours enjoyment here.