There are games out there that just beg you to ask, "What the heck happened?" RTX: Red Rock is one of those games. Though LucasArts has made some spectacular titles as of late (Knights of the Old Republic) and is well known for its stylish adventure games back in the day (Full Throttle, The Dig, Day of the Tentacle) this game is quite possibly one of the worst Lucasarts has ever released, where nothing works the way it should and the only thing that goes through the roof is the difficulty…which brings back memories of the NES days when you would play impossibly difficult games where it was quite clear that whoever developed the game had no friggin’ idea as to what they were doing.
The game starts by introducing you to its painfully dull plot: The year is 2103 and a colony on Mars has just been attacked by a group of aliens called LEDs (wahoo, I’ve always wanted to beat up on an alien race named after the light that’s on my PS2). As you may have guessed, the only person that can save the people of Mars is you, playing as the all too lovable character known as E.Z Wheeler.
You even have a very cool robot assistant who gets jealous when you interface with other computers. And the opening sequence is very well done and really gets you into the mood for the rest of the game. Unfortunately, the good times fail to roll much past that.
As E.Z Wheeler you will have a collection of weapons, infinite lives, and quirky sidekick receptionist Iris. Of course, even infinite won’t prepare you for the challenge E.Z is about to face. No, it’s not long odds, it’s not inner struggle, it’s not even the embarrassment that you’re fighting against a race named after a type of light. Nope, the big challenge, the one that will have you reeling and smacking your head against the wall, is boredom.
Yes, that’s right, boredom, because this game does nothing but frustrate and bore you. Simply put, nothing here is designed well. The map system is semi-helpful, but it requires a ton of scrolling so that it becomes quickly annoying. The adventure elements and combat are similarly lacking, due to a mixture of a terrible camera and badly implemented control systems.
You have multiple weapons on your arm. Those of you who played Bounty Hunter will cringe when you hear this. Yes, it is very difficult to switch weapons and yes, having the right weapon out at the right time is necessary.
But those aren’t even the most annoying things about RTX believe it or not. The worst part is…YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT THE HECK YOU’RE DOING. Ever. The game offers no hints as to where to go, or what you’re supposed to do, and usually you progress simply because you stumbled upon something.
As an example, while playing the game we found ourselves on a ridge running along a trench after our supposedly ace pilot main character crashed his shuttle. So we run along burning oxygen and whatnot jumping from ledge to ledge and not really doing much of anything else. Finally we come to the end of the line and there is nothing to do. So we backtrack and look around and spend about an hour trying to figure out were to go.
A couple of times the ledge looks like you can jump across, so we try and fall to our doom. Eventually we stumble onto the one spot on the ridgeline where when you jump, instead of dying it instead triggers a cut scene where you can actually make an impossibly long jump. Who knew? The game has a lot of places like that where random exploration will trigger movements to new areas, even though you had no idea what you were doing.
To be fair Lucasarts did do some things right. For one E.Z is a pretty likeable character, which is something that a lot of action games have been sorely missing lately. Also, the voice acting and its accompanying dialogue is nicely done. You will really end up liking all the characters in the game and feeling a real affinity for them.
The fact remains though that RTX is a bore to play, and dialogue does not make up for lame brain gameplay. So, if you know what’s good for you, steer clear of this title and its mediocre contents. It’s not worth a purchase or even really a rental.
It is worth noting that the soundtrack for the game is sold separately and is quite good. It is worth buying if you like space techno-like music and is very well done.
Developers: Lucas Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 2