I’m going to preface this by saying there is no way I expected Rambo: The Video Game to be any good. An on-rails shooter based on a 30-plus year old movie only spells disaster. That being said, I’m still astonished by how hilariously bad this game is. Everything that makes up Rambo: The Video Game is an affront to modern game design. Asking people to pay $40 to play it is an insult to the modern gamer’s intelligence and wallet.
Rambo: The Video Game, as I stated earlier, is an on-rails first person shooter. Astonishingly, this isn’t the biggest offender developer Teyon committed in terms of game design. Rambo could work well as an on-rails shooter. The combat remains action packed throughout the campaign’s duration and the game does a decent job of keeping you moving from one shooting gallery to the next. That’s about where the positives end with Rambo: The Video Game. There is absolutely zero challenge in Rambo: The Video Game. Enemies may litter your screen, but they’re dispatched without a second’s hesitation. As John Rambo, you are an overpowered killing machine with unlimited ammo and the ability to soak up damage. On top of that, the game gives you an ability to slow down time and heal by killing enemies in addition to a variety of perks that make your reload times quicker or allow you to take more damage—as if you needed the help. The game does attempt to ramp up the difficulty in the final two stages, but it’s more a result of overpopulating the screen than actually making your enemies smarter or more powerful. The enemy AI is inconsistent at best: it varies from completely brain dead and incapable of shooting you while you sit and wait for them to deadly accurate and able to pepper you with bullets the instant you rise out of cover. Instead of focusing on making enemies capable, the game overcompensates for its simplicity by throwing more and more of them at you and it leads to some infuriatingly difficult sections.
Mechanically, Rambo: The Video Game is nearly broken. It features an active reload mechanic found commonly in the Gears of War series, but is executed poorly. Each gun has a different “sweet spot” for a perfect reload, resulting in gun jams that are more of a result of playing with a new gun than poor timing. Couple this with a ridiculous penalty of less ammo, and you’ll find yourself just waiting for the reload animation to complete rather than trying to time your reload correctly for extra ammo. Rambo: The Video Game also has an unhealthy obsession with QTE’s; not the bearable QTE’s that enhance the tension of a game during its set pieces, but the infuriating ones that pop up in the middle of a chaotic sequence and force you to replay entire sections because you miss it. What’s more infuriating is that the QTE’s are implemented so inconsistently throughout the game. Failing one QTE prompt could result in an instant death, forcing you to replay an entire section of a level, while failing another one may only penalize you with less cover to use or minor damage. Few missions are even composed entirely of these types of QTE’s, and they’re a combination of boring and frustrating.
The Rambo movies aren’t known for their depth and compelling stories. It’s mainly about the action, and that remains the case with the video game. Rambo: The Video Game sacrifices a cohesive and coherent plot for nonstop action. Characters aren’t developed beyond one or two lines of dialog, making some of their deaths inconsequential (despite the game’s best attempts at making them dramatic and emotional). Instead, the game strings you along from level to level without any sort of cohesion. Sequences where Rambo is forced to be stealthy without a weapon or with only a bow are immediately followed by sequences in which he pulls out a heavy machine gun and mows down everything in his path. Instead of trying to create any sort of tension or justifying the awful level design, Rambo: The Video Game seems content in letting you fill in the blanks with whatever you please.
This lack of a focus on a coherent story could have been excused if the presentation was anything above acceptable. Rambo: The Video Game, however, is hideous in every facet. The digital representation of John Rambo is horrifying in how ugly it looks (you can see the silhouette of his skull underneath his hair!!!) and the rest of the game is just as bad to look at. Environments are bland, edges are jagged even running on the highest settings, and the clearly pre-rendered cutscenes look blurry, muddled and dark. The voice acting follows the visuals’ lead by being absolutely atrocious. Every voice sounds as though it was recorded in a can, and while John Rambo is clearly not voiced by Sylvester Stallone, his voice is nearly silent to the point where he might as well have just remained silent during the entire game.
I could go on about how Rambo: The Video Game fails on every conceivable level as a game. Subtitles that are misspelled and punctuated incorrectly, enemies that totally disappear from the screen before they’re even killed, and mechanics that aren’t even functionally implemented all scream sloppy and poor game design. While John Rambo may have been one of the action heroes that defined an entire decade in films, his most recent video game does him zero justice and is one of the worst overall games I’ve had the misfortune of playing in a long time. While the awful representation of Rambo in this game is insulting in its own right, charging people $40 for it is the bigger insult. Unless you’re a masochist, you owe it to yourself and your wallet to avoid Rambo: The Video Game at all costs.