reviews\ Sep 5, 2005 at 8:00 pm

187 Ride Or Die - PS2 - Review

The assumption with today's action games is that violence equals fun. Death is violent, therefore death must equal fun. Not true, says 187 Ride or Die. This vehicular combat game borrows the brightest and best from some of the industry's finest, then mixes it up for a batter that can only be described as chocolate/strawberry/vanilla swirl. The semi-sweet, artificial filling is a lot like saccharin: low-cal but not nearly as delicious as the real thing.

187 Ride or Die is a little bit SRS (Street Racing Syndicate), a little bit Need For Speed, but not quite a Burnout. An ounce of Twisted Metal: Black has been thrown in there too. Checklist:

  • Pimped-out cars

  • Turbo boosts

  • Weapon power-ups

  • Police chases

  • Phunky soundtrack that isn't phat

  • Skidding is beneficial (not harmful) to your vehicle

That about covers the industry's standard for what a new racing game should include.


Multiple game modes are available, but only two of them offer a different gameplay perspective: story and multiplayer. Story mode takes you through the sleazy, low-down, good-for-nothing life of a man who sold his soul to the devil. (The devil being a "gangsta" who can't get through a single sentence without saying something foul.) Multiplayer mode is the same thing but with real competitors and zero plot points. I think that last note deserves a resounding "hurray!"

Along the journey to becoming as slimy as the guy in charge, players will get the chance to shoot and kill their opponents before they have the chance to cross the finish line. Everyone has a life meter. When a car gets banged around too much you'd better be near a health pick-up or it's toast.

Toasted cars are frozen in time with a sliding camera effect – it looks cool, but isn't as polished as the game that first introduced the technique, Burnout 3. The interesting difference between 187 Ride or Die and Criterion's masterpiece is that the Burnout series was gun-free; in 187 Ride or Die, guns are everywhere.

Pistols come with unlimited ammo. It's the quintessential backup weapon, with slow fire and the ability to do little damage. It's the game's way of saying, "You must grab a shotgun!" Or a machinegun or some other powerhouse weapon that can drain the enemy's energy. Did I just say enemy? That's how these opponents feel. During the Twisted Metal-style combat levels they are your enemies. The object of those missions is to kill them before they kill you.


Police chases almost take us to that Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit place. That place where the stakes are high, cops are on our tail, and the only thing standing between yourself and freedom is an exciting escape. Remove the word "exciting" and you've got 187 Ride or Die. Believe it or not the cars drive slower than they did in Hot Pursuit, a game that was developed for the elderly PSone console. Turbo boosts cause the screen to fly to the front of the vehicle, attempting to fool the player into thinking that they're driving a zillion times faster than before. They aren't. You'll speed up enough to pass your opponents, but not enough to make you cringe with fear as you skid into a wall. That kind of excitement is reserved for Burnout, Wipeout, F-Zero, and other games that dared to revolutionize high-speed racing.

Most of the cars control the same, and most of the tracks are much too long. Whoever heard of a five-lap race in a vehicular combat hybrid? I hadn't heard that one before, but I am familiar with short but sweet. Something tells me this game has no idea what I'm talking about.

If the too much, too soon feel of the length hadn't been an instant turn-off, the absence of excitement might've had a longer lasting effect. Unlike the vast majority of the below-average games sold each year, 187 Ride or Die isn't comprised of crappy controls, shoddy graphics, and horrendous gameplay mechanics that make the sound of nails on a chalkboard seem appealing. 187 Ride or Die's controls are rather decent. They're overly responsive, a trait of classic arcade games. Turning a corner is almost too easy, while skidding (or power-sliding) was designed to be as effortless as possible.

Graphically the game doesn't stand out among the Burnouts and Gran Turismos of the world, but the course designs are solid, the animation is consistent, and pixelation is nowhere to be found. Not eye-popping, but certainly commendable.


Although those reasons give argument to the contrary, 187 Ride or Die is dragged down for the same reason that Stealth wasn't a successful movie: whether the concept was original or not, we've been there. We've experienced that. And we've done it in some shape or form for the past five years.

We eat the same pizza, the same pasta, and the same candy repeatedly, so why can't we continually ingest the same games? I guess my taste buds for entertainment are far more sensitive than they are for food. I had high hopes for 187 Ride or Die, a game that combines many pieces of many games. But my original food analogy rang true: some flavors don't taste good together.

Review Scoring Details for 187 Ride or Die

Gameplay: 6.0
Not much happens in 187 Ride or Die's world of crime. I must've banged my head against the wall a hundred times over the simple fact that this game, a sub-racer, doesn't have any speed! I don't understand that. It's incomprehensible to me. The controls are good but you'll never know it. I hate to say it but I couldn't wait till the game was over. Repetitive cars; repetitive tracks; too many laps – enough already!

Graphics: 8.0
Sleek cars and bright headlights, 187 Ride or Die is one of the prettier vehicular combat games on the market. Heads would turn and jaws would drop if we could turn up the speedometer.

Sound: 4.0
Someone needs to have their mouth washed out with soap. Meanwhile, the soundtrack could use a little volume, as in variety – the sound is loud enough, but the music is stuck in one genre from one artist. That's not what a racing game needs.

Difficulty: Easy/Medium
There's a cheap trick to winning them all, and it's called boredom endurance. The cops are stupid (ram them before they ram you); and your opponents are all but guaranteed to give up the lead every time you fall behind.

Concept: 7.0
A property of properties. 187 Ride or Die takes the good, the bad, and the ugly of other games and other genres to create an experience that's conceptually more appealing than the final product.

Multiplayer: 5.5
Online or not, 187’s multiplayer fun dies pretty quickly.

Overall: 6.0
187 Ride or Die leaves no aftertaste. Six months from now you won't be craving another bite. At the start of summer when game releases were scarce, this could've scored big in the rental world from gamers looking to kill time. (And even more so from gamers desperate for the fall gaming season to start.) Really it shouldn't matter what time of year it is. If you're seeking a Burnout, Twisted Metal or Need For Speed clone to fill the void until their sequels arrive, you'd be better off playing the games you already have.

Above Average

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