Road Redemption is a sort-of spiritual successor to Road Rash. I say sort-of, because none of the original people involved in it made this. I backed this when it was on Kickstarter several years ago. It went on Steam Early Access not long after, and I've been playing it on and off since. It recently came out for real, and it's been a great ride!
Turns out that I like racing games with weapons, and not the cute kart style ones. This game divides weapons into 4 categories, and each are upgradable. There's the blunt weapons, blades, explosives, and guns. I rarely use guns, because you can only fire straight ahead, and that's rarely in line with another rider, but can be useful in taking down bosses. Explosives are for taking out trucks, police cars, and groups of bikers. Blunt weapons are useful for popping off helmets and killing people. Once you have a biker with no helmet, use a blade to decapitate for a bonus! Landing a hit gives sounds of bones breaking, glass shattering, and bombs beeping.
The bike handling is fluid, physics based, and tight, with no perceptible lag. Once you get the hang of it (within minutes), you will be dancing across the road in a beautiful cacophony of death. Attacks can be deflected, but you can also kick bikers into oncoming traffic, off a bridge, or into a support beam. Bikers can fling up into the sky on death (you too).
The environments are semi-varied enough. You start in a desert, slide though snowy mountains, and blast through abandoned cities. A rooftop level separates each one. In any level, veer too far off the road, and you die. On the rooftops, if you aren't lined up, there's no way to get back on the road. There are jump jets to compensate (if you're early enough), but if you're careful, they aren't needed. There are plenty of shortcuts in every track (except rooftops) to keep things interesting. With that said, the tracks become too familiar after a while, and you notice that half of them are the same tracks going the other way.
The three major environments host a different biker gang. The Reapers are nomadic desert cannibals who have the fashion sense of a 12-year old metal music fan. The Sigmas are alpine cyborgs, and the Phantoms are heavily armed former soldiers. However, most of the riders on the road are not part of a gang, aside from the cops. Some riders give extra health, money, or nitro when killed. Other riders will occasionally spam pipe bombs or start shooting guns at you.
The tracks seem empty enough, but it seems like the AI focuses in on you specifically. All too often, you are at the center of a crowd. Managing crowds and watching out for oncoming traffic makes a recipe for hurt. (I recommend explosives!) You can activate your nitro boost and not go as fast as you would expect. Enemies seem to "rubber band" around you. There is one shortcut in particular that causes a bug in the rankings: leave and be ahead of everyone else, but the game thinks you're last. This causes unranked enemies and traffic to not spawn for a few seconds, but once they do, the other bikers soon catch up.
Game types include the usual race and time trial. Other times, certain members of a rival gang need killed, or you need to evade the cops (who will try to take you off the road). And to mix it up, sometimes your character will have one too many mushrooms, and hallucinate cars falling like rain. Except the cars are real and will mess you up!
The story does well enough for what it's supposed to do. Some unnamed apocalypse has happened, leading Australian biker gangs to rule the world. Or I think it was; I've skipped past the intro many times. Some jerk named "The Assassin" killed a gang leader, and that gang are offering a 15 million dollar bounty. It took me forever, but I finally got him. Just because you killed him, don't think that the party is over! Your gang leader is constantly yammering into your ear, as are the other biker gang bosses. What is this? Call of Duty? Those bosses even talk while you're trying to kill them (won't that make them distracted to your attacks?). At least the game doesn't attempt to develop any characters, then try a cheap shot by abruptly killing one.
This presses all the happy buttons that Death Rally does. About a year before it left early access, it was all I wanted it to be. It had the weapons, the environments, the enemies, and the feeling nailed. It was so much more than Road Rash ever was. When I have a new character, and I beat a boss for the first time, I have a very strong sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. It makes me shout! After several rounds and reaching the end of the tech tree, you become god-like. Once you've tasted that, going back to the start (even voluntarily) is a little depressing, and makes me think that the progression is too slow.
This is a very satisfying game. Even if you don't like racing games, check it out. This game is so much fun! And it's fun to have fun with fun!
Oh, right, almost forgot: DON'T DO THIS AT HOME, KIDS!