A while ago now I was saying how having a driving game which combined traditional driving action with a decent amount of passenger side shooting action could be pretty cool and I stand by the idea that this could be made into a good game. What has happened though is that Ubisoft have created 187 Ride or Die which attempts to do pretty much the above but seems to fall short in many areas.
187 Ride or Die begins by looking pretty promising, the introductory sequences and cutscenes displayed behind the title screen make it look as though you're in for a lush story driven treat however this is not the case. You know how sometimes a piece of music will get 'reinterpreted' by a different artist and by reinterpreted they mean "I liked it, I tried to make it better, I have failed" well this is the way in which 187 Ride or Die attempts to 'reinterpret' the weapons based racing genre, imagine if you will a bad 'cover' of say the latest Wipeout or Mario Kart games but with less speed, less variety in weapons and generally less to keep you coming back for more, unfortunately that's what this game comes down to when you have gotten used to it and the explosions stop being amusing - just a bland weapons based racer which despite its attempts to distance itself from the crowd just falls down in too many places.
Ok so the idea is pretty sound, you drive around trying to win races by beating the other cars to the finish just like in any other racer, where this differs from your traditional racers is that pressing R1 will cause your partner in the passenger seat to begin showering the opposition with machinegun fire or shotgun blasts or possibly even prompt him to lay mines in some circumstances in order to ensure that you win.
The weapons are collected by driving over them as in many weapons based racers and two guns can be held onto and toggled between at any time, if you are out of good guns your passenger will fire a simple pistol forwards out of the window but the more heavy artillery will require him to stand with his torso through the sunroof to allow for proper damage dealing operation.
Not all of the races are straightforward kill frenzies though, there are races in which you can only use mines, particularly entertaining races where the car in last place at the end of each lap blows up on the spot and races involving the second most widely used videogame enemy after 'nondescript aliens' - the police, who appear indestructible unfortunately.
On the driving side of things 187 features arcade style handling and controls which to be fair work in the games best interests as it means that you can easily concentrate on driving and shooting at once in single player without much difficulty, the handling has the expected sliding and skidding of arcade controls except that there is a purpose to performing these slides as the more you do them the more your boost meter will fill, you can release this accumulated boost power with L1 at will.
A nice touch of 187 is the way in which enemy cars and their poor occupants explode and go flying when sufficient damage has been dealt, you see a slow motion view of the guys and their destroyed whip going over and this is quite funny to watch, the crashes look like they really should hurt although you could argue that its not possible to portray an exploding car containing two people without it seeming painful, nevertheless the death sequences of the opposition do indeed impress at least until the novelty wears off.
By way of styling the game the developers appear to have taken their game engine down to themes-r-us and bought the complete 'gangsta' package, unfortunately there are shortcomings here which make the game fall short too. A lot more could have been made of the theme if there was a more solid story behind it but unfortunately the storyline even in story mode is quite flimsy, the pre and post level spoken intros are hammy too and sometimes the voice acting will not mirror the onscreen text as though someone tried to write down the screen text from the acting and got it wrong.
187 Ride or Die could have been a lot better if it had more variety in the weaponry available and different racing styles had been included, also the not really well fleshed out storyline does not do the game any favours. You may certainly enjoy 187 Ride or Die if weapon-racers are your thing but many casual players will be better off trying the game out before buying.
Its not that there are any obvious or glaring faults with the game but rather the way how it doesn't offer anything more than or in some cases even close to what has been seen in this genre already.