Road Rash Jailbreak (PSX) Review
Presentation/Graphics : 73
For one, the overall look of the game is slightly more pleasing than the bland, washed-out graphics of Road Rash 3D. Although still grainy and sometimes hard on the eyes, each track contains a fair amount of detail. For instance, when racing during a bright, sunny morning, there are several instances where a satisfying lens flare effect will be produced when racing towards the sun. Also, there are many more animated and destructible objects present: planes and birds fly above, signposts and oil drums scatter about when crashed into, and traffic and pedestrians go about their own business -- until you crash into them, that is.
Crashes are even more spectacular than the ones in Road Rash 3D...maybe a little too spectacular. It's nice to see your biker fly hundreds of feet into the air every now and then, but due to poor collision detection, this happens more than it should. Some objects can be lightly brushed against, yet still cause a high-flying crash, while objects that should have caused your rider to crash can be ridden right through. More often than not, though, crashes come more as a result of the rider's own mistakes (i.e., over sliding into a turn, getting knocked out by another rasher, crashing into a wall or car, etc.) than as a result of bad collision detection.
The bikers (a.k.a. rashers) in Jailbreak are better modeled and contain more detail than the ones found in Road Rash 3D, but there has been a decrease in the type and variety of rashers. Road Rash 3D featured several different gangs, each one with their own unique style, but Jailbreak only features two gangs (Kaffe Boys and DeSades), so obviously there isn't as much variety. Still, the rashers in Jailbreak display more animations and are, overall, better animated. Like the rashers, the motorcycles have also been improved since Road Rash 3D, and new sidecar bikes are heavily featured in the game.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Road Rash game without the wacky cartoon faces of the rashers that pop up in between races to give you tips (or make fun of you) and the now-standard Full-Motion-Video interludes. There's less video here than previous 32-bit versions, but what's included is nicely done and often quite humorous. Out of all the Road Rash games that have featured Full- Motion-Video, Jailbreak definitely contains the most stylish and original clips.
Unfortunately, when taken as a whole, the graphics are barely average and do a miserable job of representing the PlayStation at this point in its life. The tracks may feature more detail and animated objects than Road Rash 3D, but they're still not much to look at. Also, the in-game faces of the bikers are grotesque and strange looking, but at least you don't see their ugly mugs too often while racing. Even effects like dirt being kicked up when riding off-road or sparks that fly when the bike rubs against a wall are nothing to write home about. And just like Road Rash 3D, there is never a true sense of speed in the game, something that's been an important part of earlier Road Rash games. Expect things to slow down to a crawl when there is too much excitement on the screen. Plus, everything begins to look and feel the same after a while. True, there are a variety of locations in which the races take place, but they all contain many of the same elements as each other. On final analysis, Jailbreak is just a step above Road Rash 3D's murky graphics -- and a baby step at that.
Presentation/Audio : 72
On the other hand, the sound effects are nicely done and do a good job of pulling the player into the game. The surround sound option makes the experience even the more enjoyable when you hear loud engines and screams coming from all around. The only problem I have with the sound effects are the mostly lame taunts that come from the rashers. One new feature EA has added to Jailbreak is the ability to taunt your opponent with the press of a button. While this may sound cool, the majority of the taunts don't quite fit the on-screen action (what does screaming "toga! toga! toga!" have to do with anything?). To make things worse, most of the taunts are repetitive and very annoying, although there are one or two that may make you laugh.
In the end, Jailbreak takes a step back in the music & sound effects department. The music, while neither anything special nor completely horrible, doesn't mix as well with the combat-racing as previous 32-bit Road Rash games. Sound effects fare better, but the annoying taunts have more of a negative effect on the game than a positive one.
Interface/Options : 85
Options consist of Load & Save, Controller Configuration, Noise (sound options), Jukebox (learn about the bands, listen to their songs, and toggle songs on and off), and Multiplayer. The Multiplayer options allow you to choose the type of split screen (horizontal or staggered) and toggle the catch-up feature (gives the trailing rider a speed boost). You can also view the credits, which are very long due to the huge amount of band info towards the end. The same credits will play after you beat the game, so those who believe it is sacrilegious to view the end credits before completing the game, may want to steer clear of this option.
There are a total of four different views in Jailbreak, all of which are variations of a third-person view. I found the default view to work the best, but I occasionally opted for a chase view to get a better idea of my surroundings. The closest view, which places the camera directly behind the back of the rider, is the most deceiving because you have many blind spots and cannot get a good feel for those who are behind you. You can change your view by pressing the select button during the race, but you cannot pre-select a view in the options menu before a race. This may become a nuisance for those who dislike the default view, as they will constantly need to tap the select button however many times it takes to reach their preferred view some point during each race.
Gameplay : 78
Jailbreak mode is the main mode of the game and serves a purpose other than bashing skulls -- a first in a Road Rash game. The idea in Jailbreak Mode is to bust your fellow rasher, Spaz, out of the slammer. You select a gang to ride with -- the macho DeSades who ride American-made hogs, or the slick Kaffe Boys who ride on top of high-performance bikes -- and choose from a selection of characters to race as. You can also choose between an arcade or simulation bike, each one having a different set of characteristics (although, the simulation bike is a little misleading because this game is as far from a simulation as you can possibly get).
Obviously, each gang has it own strengths and weaknesses, but winning will depend more on your riding ability than it will on the gang you become affiliated with. Luckily, there are a variety of weapons and nitro packs that you can earn to make your rashing experience a tad bit easier. Weapons range from chains to nunchucks, but at anytime your opponents can steal your weapon, so don't make a habit of swinging your weapon aimlessly. Nitro packs will give your bike an extra boost of speed and can sometimes mean the difference in placing in the top three, which is important if you plan to advance to the next race.
As you advance in Jailbreak mode you will go up in rank. You start out as a mere Grunt and will slowly advance to the status of Captain as you win races. Once you have proved yourself worthy, it's time to bust Spaz free from jail using a sidecar bike!
In Five-O mode, you play as the fuzz and must either capture the primary suspect, or fill an arrest quota to advance. This, of course, is easier said than done, especially when you have a time limit to contend with. Ironically, the same rashers that I whizzed by and knocked down with ease in the Jailbreak mode, were schooling me when I was playing as the cop in Five-O mode. But I guess this mode wouldn't be much of a challenge if I had the same super abilities as the cops in the Jailbreak mode.
The Time Trial mode is the final single-player mode available. This mode is pretty self-explanatory, but there are a number of options that you can adjust before the race. You can select your rank (Grunt, Lieutenant, Captain), choose from all available motorcycles and courses, and individually toggle traffic, cops, and opponents to customize your race. So, while it still may be a basic race against the clock, you have plenty of customizable options to make each time trial unique.
Road Rash: Jailbreak also features a variety of unique multi-player modes. The list of multi-player modes is as follows: Skull-To-Skull (basic head-to-head race), Cops & Robbers (similar to the Five-O mode; one player plays the cop, the other plays the fugitive), and two different Sidecar modes (co-op and vs.).
The Sidecar modes are the most unique because they allow one player to focus on driving and the other on fighting. However, the driver will still need to fight rashers on his or her side of the bike; likewise, the sidecar passenger has the ability to affect steering by leaning left or right. If playing the co-operative version of the Sidecar mode, both players work together to battle other rashers, while trying to win the race. During a Vs. match in the Sidecar mode, however, up to four players (with the aide of a Multi Tap peripheral) can battle it out via split screen. If only two players are available, the computer will control the sidecar passengers.
Jailbreak is best played using analog control. While fully playable in digital mode, most will likely prefer analog once they get a taste of the smooth control that it offers. There are also some very satisfying feedback effects, so the Dual Shock controller comes highly recommended. Analog control also cuts down on the number of buttons that need to be used. For instance, instead of holding back on the D-pad and pressing the X button twice to execute a nitro burst, you simply move the right analog stick up two times (in a quick fashion) to perform the same move. In addition, analog control also allows better control over turning and braking, both of which play an important role in the game.
An important maneuver you will need to use extensively is the wheelie. The wheelie allows you to launch your bike over small cars, which helps prevent a potential bail when approaching cars head-on. Just make sure not to try this same trick to jump over a truck because you will fail miserably!
The fighting itself hasn't really changed much, but some combos and super weapons have been added to the mix. Combos are fairly basic, but allow for a greater variety of attacks. Most combos are only two- or three-button presses long, so you won't need to memorize anything. The super weapons are basically just a more powerful version of a pre-existing weapon, with only a certain amount of hits allowed before it is diminished. Just make sure not to get into too many fights because you run the risk of getting knocked down, causing you to lose your position and possibly damage your bike beyond repair. Speaking of getting knocked off your bike -- which will happen a lot -- you can simply press the triangle button to teleport your rasher to the bike, which will save some precious time.
Overall, Jailbreak contains the most amount of gameplay of any Road Rash game to date, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's better. The gameplay lacks speed and sometimes excitement, which were two things that the Road Rash series were built upon. Jailbreak's gameplay certainly has it moments, but ends up feeling too familiar to truly excite.
Replay Value : 83
Overall : 78