Cars and guns go together like peanut butter and jelly...at least when it comes to games. But RoadKill, which offers an ideal car-to-gun ratio, doesn't stop there with the flavor combinations. If you've played Grand Theft Auto and Twisted Metal, then it would be easy to describe RoadKill to you as a combination of the most recent entries in these series of games. Combining the over-the-top vehicle design and pure shooting action of Twisted Metal: Black with the free-form gameplay, clockwork environments, radio-style soundtrack, and sheer audacity of Grand Theft Auto III or Vice City, RoadKill will appeal to fans of any of these games. It's even got a dash of The Road Warrior thrown in for good measure. Yet, the game manages to have a bit of its own style and feel to it, despite how most of its elements are clearly derived from other games. What's most important, though, is that RoadKill is fun to play. The game is filled with plenty of fast, violent action, and while it would be easy to dismiss it as an attempt to cash in on the success of Grand Theft Auto (which, in fact, it is), to dismiss RoadKill would be to overlook RoadKill.
Recipe for RoadKill: Stir together one part Grand Theft Auto III and one part Twisted Metal: Black, and microwave on high. Add a dash of The Road Warrior, to taste.
In the game, you play as a tough guy with a tough name: Mason Strong, who's one of humankind's few survivors of a disease called the rot. Those who didn't die from this disease descended into savagery--the world has degenerated into full-scale, anarchic warfare, and only the meanest and most ruthless can hope to survive for long in this postapocalyptic wasteland. RoadKill's single-player mode puts you as Mason first in the city of Lava Falls, then in Blister Canyon, then in the fabled Paradise City--where the grass is green and the girls are pretty, though it's also seemingly the last vestige of decent civilization. All these places are ruled over by vicious gangs, and Mason will align himself with some and battle head-on against others over the course of the game's story missions, all while earning better and better vehicles, more money, and more prestige. There's no on-foot action in RoadKill; you're almost always behind the wheel of a tricked-out machine-gun-toting car, though sometimes, you'll get to man the swivel turret mounted on the back. You'll deal with your enemies by means of those guns and various other weapons, such as bombs and rockets.
The fact that you can't leave your vehicle (unless it blows up and sends your corpse flying) is indicative of RoadKill's relative simplicity in comparison to Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City. The vehicle physics in the game are seriously forgiving. You can't really flip your car over (it'll just flip right side up), most every vehicle is nice and fast and can turn very sharply if you apply the handbrake, and you can pretty much just ride the "accelerate" button even around hairpin turns. All this is conducive to the game's arcadelike feel, though one aspect of the relaxed physics model that's a little disappointing is that, with very rare exception, there's no collision damage for vehicles. Crashing head-on through a row of street lamps, let alone straight into a brick wall, does nothing to your vehicle. Actually, the brick wall would slow you down, but you get the picture. Collisions with other vehicles don't injure either party, and that's the real issue; in car combat games like Twisted Metal: Black, colliding with enemies can be a viable means of attack, especially if you're in a much meatier vehicle than your foe. Here, it's your guns and bombs that will do the talking.
Your guns auto-target whichever vehicle or unfortunate pedestrian happens to be in front of your vehicle. Your machine guns have unlimited ammo and can't overheat or anything, so you can theoretically just fire away forever. And, in the turret missions, which are like shooting galleries, that's pretty much exactly what you'll do. There's no skill involved in aiming your stock weapons in RoadKill, but some of the special weapons are a little more interesting and proportionally more powerful. At any rate, between skidding around to keep a bead on your enemies and making the best use of your limited special weapons, all while learning the lay of the land so that you know where the closest power-up is if you need it, there's certainly enough to do in RoadKill to keep you entertained. The action is a little on the simplistic side, but there's plenty to shoot at, and when hit hard enough, cars blow up real good, and pedestrians bleed real bad.
Big, open-ended levels and relaxed vehicle physics make the world of RoadKill fun to drive around and shoot stuff in.
The single-player game is structured more or less exactly like Grand Theft Auto III or Vice City...except the little minimap is square-shaped here, rather than circular. Right off the bat, you have a large chunk of territory that you're free to navigate at your discretion. You can explore and search for hidden items--namely, pieces of unlockable weapons and vehicles--and you can take on some peripheral missions (Crazy Taxi-style deliveries, races, stunt drives, and more) as well as the main story missions, which must be accomplished in sequence. While driving around, you can pick a fight with anyone and for whatever reason, and there's no penalty for doing so.
In fact, blowing up other vehicles causes them to spew out a few pieces of salvage, which translate into currency that you can spend on permanent upgrades like improved top speed, extra armor, greater ammo capacity for your special weapons, additional shots of nitrous for speed boosts, and more. These upgrades aren't vehicle-specific, so whichever car you happen to be driving will benefit. The game's vehicles certainly look a lot different and are rated differently in terms of acceleration, top speed, and "health," but they more or less handle similarly and function identically. They all sport machine guns and a rear-mounted swivel turret, which, during most of the game, will be manned by a computer-controlled gunner who'll judiciously fire upon any enemies in your vicinity.
You don't carjack people in RoadKill. To acquire new vehicles, you need to seek out the blueprints and various hidden parts. It can be quite tough to find a full set of parts for a given car, and since the starting car and another vehicle you unlock via the story mode early on are quite effective, you won't feel implored to do so. Instead, you may find yourself concentrating on just wreaking havoc and racking up cash for those upgrades. Similar to how the Grand Theft Auto games throw more and more deadly law enforcement after you as you kill people, RoadKill sends more and more cop car-like sentinels after you as you cause mayhem.