In this age of ultra-fancy 3D graphics, it's hard to imagine a major publisher like Interplay releasing a first-person shooter that doesn't feature any 3D support at all. But that's just what it did for Redneck Rampage Rides Again - and I'll be danged if it ain't more fun than the original.
No matter how much you like games based on the Build engine, like Blood, Duke Nukem, or Shadow Warrior, there's no denying it's getting long in the tooth. But it's impressive what Xatrix managed to do with that "old" engine. I'll be the first to admit that Redneck Rampage Rides Again's graphics don't compare to the purty stuff you see in games like Quake II, Hexen II, or Unreal. Still, it don't take a nuclear physicist to decide whether a game looks good or not - and for a game without 3D support, Redneck Rampage Rides Again looks pretty durn good.
3D purists might whine there's a lot of "pseudo-3D" here, and they've probably got a point. But even they'll have to fess up and admit that there's some impressive stuff here, especially when the action takes you indoors: Beams, girders, staircases, and other objects look so good you feel like you could run into 'em and stub your toe (well, at least until you get really close and start getting a bad case of pixelitis, that is).
But I'm gettin' ahead of myself. After all, some of you might not have a clue what Redneck Rampage Rides Again is all about, so here's the skinny for those of you who've been running from the IRS or living in a cave for the last year. Redneck Rampage Rides Again is the youngun of Redneck Rampage, a game that slapped you into the brogans of Leonard, a hard-workin' fella who ain't got a problem with loading up his shotgun and kickin' some ass to save his hometown of Hickston, Arkansas, from illegal aliens - and we ain't talking about the kind that wade across the Rio Grande, either. These are space critters, and they were making clones of all the locals to do their dirty work.
After Redneck Rampage and the Suckin' Grits on Route 66 add-on, Leonard and his good buddy Bubba probably thought they'd seen the end of them ETs - you would too, after being in a full-blown game and an add-on pack - but as they say in Hickston, they wuz wrong. Leonard and Bubba managed to hijack one of them fancy flying disks, but just when they thought they had it made, it took a nosedive into the desert in one of them states west of Texas. When the game opens, you (well, it's actually Leonard) are trying your dangdest to get back to the garden spot that is Hickston.
Along the way you square off against vicious jackalopes (rabbits with antlers), rabid pit bulls, clone bikers who've watched Blue Velvet one too many times ("Don't look at me!"), cheerleaders chucking dynamite batons, and a pack of other critters ranging from placid pigs to scary skeeters.
If you don't spend any time with it, Redneck Rampage Rides Again might seem skimpy for a sequel: There's only a handful of new weapons and enemies, and it still uses the clumsy multiplayer mode of the original (which means everyone's gotta start at the same time and, as of the publishing of this review, there's no gaming network that supports it). But the pleasure here's in the details, friends - and the best are the new insult lines the enemies spout.
The Skinny Old Coot from the first game won a free trip to Vegas, and he must've paid as much attention to the lingo of the locals as he did to the card count at the blackjack table. When you get close to him he cackles "Groooveee, bay-bee, he he he...." just as he's whipping out a hog leg to end your time on this here planet. Move up into the higher levels, and the Coot starts shouting stuff like "Craps, you lose!" and "New shooter comin' out!" - and while it might sound pretty plain as you read it in this review, it's about fall-down funny when you hear it in the middle of an intense bloodbath.
But my fave has gotta be Daisy Mae, the clone cheerleader with the TNT batons. She's got so many good lines there's not room to print 'em all here: "I'm gonna slap you bald-headed!"; "Do you like that, boy?"; "Were you raised in a barn?"; "Now you've gone and done it!" (one of Leonard's multiplayer taunts); and my hands-down winner for best line in a computer game: "Now I'm gonna have to open up a can of whoop-ass on you!" - the same line Leonard used at the start of the original Redneck Rampage.
Redneck Rampage won't win any awards for its stilted multiplayer mode, but with 14 single-player levels - most of 'em really big - and some interesting diversions involving motorcycles mounted with machine guns and hydro-boats equipped with mortars, there's so much great action here that it doesn't really matter.
I've only got a couple of gripes with Redneck Rampage Rides Again, the first being that the lack of 3D support means that the CPU's gotta handle everything - and if you ain't got at least 200MHz of processing power, you can expect severe hiccups in the animation when there's a lot going on at one time. And some of the levels get pretty dark - not dark as in atmosphere, but dark as in it's kinda hard to enjoy the graphics. Sure, there's a gamma adjustment to lighten things up, but if you jack it up so's you can see stuff good, everything looks too washed out.
But my biggest gripe is that this is a DOS-based game; even Xatrix admits it runs poorly under Windows 95. It wouldn't have been a big deal two or three years ago, and I'm not exactly in love with Windows 95, but even I've gotta confess it really does make things like sound-card configuration and multiplayer support a lot simpler for rednecks like me. Hey, Xatrix: Other people have made great first-person shooters using that monopolistic operating system called Windows 95, and you should take a lesson from them.
Before I forget, I better let ya know there's some filthy language here, real lowbrow stuff that a lot of people will consider utterly offensive. Then again, if that sort of thing offends you then you probably wouldn't be in the market for a blood-drenched shooter that makes fun of poor white trash in the first place.
It's a little hard to tell someone to shell out 40 or 50 bucks for a sequel that at first glance seems pretty much like the original. But the key words here are "first glance," and once you get into Redneck Rampage Rides Again you'll see that this isn't a cookie-cutter sequel at all. It's half shoot-em-up, half laugh riot - and that adds up to a damn good deal to me.