Review: Road Rash: Jailbreak (Playstation)

In this review, we attempt to bust Spaz out of prison in the Playstation game Road Rash: Jailbreak. We find out if this combat racing game is worth a play.

This game was released in 2000. This is ultimately the last official game we’ve played in the series.

The first in the series was Road Rash. That game managed to earn a great score which is a great start to the series. Next up is Road Rash II. That game earned an alright score, but nothing overly impressive. The third in the series is Road Rash 3: Tour De Force. That game managed to turn things around as it earned a great score as well. The fourth game in the series is Road Rash 3D. That game got a good score. The fifth game in the series is Road Rash 64. That game proved to be the height of the series earning the highest score out of all of them. So now, we bring the series home with the final entry in the series, Road Rash: Jailbreak.

While every game in the series before had, at best, a subtle storyline, this game actually features a fully fleshed out story in the main campaign mode. It follows the adventures of Spaz and Punt. The duel are bikers. Notably, Punt is a midget with antlers attached to his helmet. Part way through the game, Spaz gets busted. By the end of the game, your goal is to bust Spaz out of prison.

There are three main modes in this game if you are playing single player: Jail Break, Five-O, and Time Trial.

Jail Break is where the full campaign mode for this game. Initially, the goal is to climb the ranks of a respective gang. You get to choose between two gangs: Kaffe Boys and DeSades. After you choose a gang you want to ride with, you get to choose an alias. You’ll get a choice between three possible aliases befitting of the gang. This actually means you get a choice of 6 possible characters to choose from.

After you start your mission, you’ll be treated to the entry level position of Grunt. In order to advance, you need to finish third or better in all 9 races in that rank. You can complete them in any order, but you must win in every race to advance. Once you have qualified in a particular race, the race falls off of the options. Keep going until you run out of races.

When you complete all 9 races, you’ll be treated to a boss stage. You must complete a particular objective in that race to earn an advancement. You get to achieve the level of Lieutenant. From there, you compete in 9 more races. Complete the boss stage after and you’ll earn the rank of Captain. Complete the subsequent 9 races and beat the boss stage to beat the game. In total, there are 30 races you need to beat to win in this game.

You get to choose either an arcade style bike or a simulation bike. What that bike is depends on the gang you choose. Each gang gets their own pair of bikes for each level.

You’ll also be given the chance to choose between races. In this menu, you’ll be given basic information. The information includes the rout in the map, race distance, difficulty of the turns, and traffic congestion. While you can’t really choose the conditions, it is a nice forewarning for what’s meeting you on the other side of the loading screen.

Where the game diverts from every previous game is the fact that there is no way to accumulate cash or points. You get a set amount of Rash points where you ultimately win a prize. You can either get a new weapon, supercharged weapon, or a nitro pack. A new weapon in your arsenal is always welcome news as you can get 1 of a number of different weapons.

The weapons found in this game include a billy club, tire iron, mace, taser, nun chucks, and chain. A note about the mace and taser, you need to hold down either up or down and press one of the attack buttons to activate. You need to figure out the correct combination, or else you’ll only get a buzzer sound. A hint is that one requires a down button and the other requires the use of up.

Supercharged weapon gives the weapon a glow. You have a limited number of swings before it turns to normal. When supercharged, a weapon does 4x the normal damage. Most of the time, this means one hit KO’s, but not always.

A Nitro pack is very valuable in this game. To use, you need to hold down down and tap acceleration twice to use. You have to use it sparingly as the supply you have must last the entire rank. After you advance to the next rank, your supply will reset. While the capacity is quite high, it isn’t unlimited.

In the races themselves, you race against 15 other opponents for a total of 16 bikers in a race. You have two attack buttons, a taunt button, a button that allows you to look back, acceleration, and a button that allows you to scroll through the weapons in your inventory.

Like previous games, you’ll see your health meter and bike meter. If you run out of health, you’ll get “KO”d off of your bike. If you run out on the damage meter for your bike, you’ll become wrecked.

A very familiar feature on the road are police. Police will ride their own bikes and try and crash you. If you get crashed by an officer, you are basically hoping that the officer continues on. If he sticks around, he can bust you running to your bike. You can always crash him to get him out of your hair.

Like Road Rash 64, start points and end points are placed on an interconnected map. The goal, of course, is to try and cross the finish line before anyone else. The downside here is that there are no collectible items found in the races themselves. Instead, you get breakables and various elements of scenery sharing the road with you.

As you race, you can engage in combat. Knock an opponent off of his bike and you’ll earn a crossbones. You can accumulate these crossbones throughout the race, but know that this resets at the end of the race.

At the end of the race, you’ll get a tally of how well you did in the race. You’ll get to see your placement, the finish times of the top three (you time will be below them if you finish 4th or worse). You’ll also be shown the number of steals, KO’s, and hits you delivered and how many have been delivered to you.

The next mode in this game is Five-O. Five-O places you firmly in the seat of the police cruiser. This mode plays like the level 2 boss mode. You have one opponent who is flashing blue. This is your target. You’ll likely notice that catching this person isn’t always easy. Lucky for you, you’ll get a second method of winning. If you bust the number of perps in the quota, you’ll beat the level anyway. Just know that you have a limited amount of time to complete this, so act quickly on delivering justice on the streets. In total, there are 6 races you compete in. Complete the objective in each level and you’ll advance up a rank. In total, there are three ranks to move up into. Complete all races in the captain ranking and you’ll win the game in this mode.

One thing worth noting is that if you bust the warrant suspect, the descriptions will change on the next level, so it is definitely worth breezing through all the people being the warrants on each level.

Time Trial is basically the Jail Break mode. The only difference is that you get the chance to beat the top time in each race. Beat the time and you’ll earn a win. Move up the ranks to beat the game.

Given that the best game in the series preceded this game, I was rather excited to play this one. With so much excellent replay value and overall excellent entertainment value, I thought this game would simply take the ideas found in the previous game and improve on them.

Unfortunately, this game doesn’t do this. In fact, a lot of what made the previous Road Rash games interesting have been stripped out. The first feature that was removed were collectible items. This feature made the races very interesting in Road Rash 64. Unfortunately, out it went.

Another great feature that made Road Rash fascinating was the money. Accumulate your cash and upgrade your bike. While upgrading your bike was stripped out by the time the N64 iteration came around, cash defined the game in a very big way. In this game, you get vague Rash Cash. The game even just decides for you what you win at the end of the race. You have no control over how the cash is spent. When you beat a ranking, you just get pushed up to the next level and choose between two bikes. While you can go back and forth if you wish, that choice is also removed for the most part. So, the cash feature is largely scrapped.

In an extension to the previous point, the store feature that was introduced from the very beginning always gave this game a certain degree of strategy. As you might figure, the cash has been stripped out. As such, the store feature has also been completely scrapped as well.

A feature that was kept was the interconnected nature of the roads. The game takes place on a massive plot of land (and some ocean even). This was introduced on the N64 iteration. It is mercifully kept in this game.

One thing that the N64 version got right is recovery from a crash. If you crash, you get placed back on the road after a moment so you can continue on with the race. It replaces the annoying element of having your riders run endlessly towards the bike, making the race a lost cause half the time. This game reverts back to the old style. So, if you crash, the chances of winning any race diminishes greatly. In fact, if you wipe out in the latter half of the race, the race almost becomes a writeoff in the end because there is just no way for you to make it back to your bike before losing too much time. The only exception is, maybe, if your rider lands right next to your bike. Not something you can count on by any means, unfortunately.

One thing this game does improve on is the Five-O mode. Introduced in the N64 game, this game manages to turn this into a small campaign mode in and of itself. This development gets a thumbs up from me because it always seemed like a mode that deserved more in the previous game.

Generally speaking, this game represents a few steps forward and many steps back. A lot of features that made this series a great one have been stripped out. In fact, one of the features that was improved on in the N64 game have been reverted back to the old annoying and archaic way (namely the crashing respawn system). While this game does retain some of the entertaining elements that made this series such a great one to play, this game wound up being a disappointment.

The graphics wound up being a real weakness here. While the graphics may be the most impressive yet in the series, technology has also been developing along the way. Games like Excite Bike 64, Crazy Taxi, Perfect Dark, San Francisco Rush 2049, Timesplitters, andVigilante 8 – 2nd Offense are also out there too. While the breakables are a nice addition, it only helps make the graphics here passable more than anything else.

The audio has become a real defining feature in this game. Licensed music has really taken over since Road Rash 3D and the game ultimately hasn’t looked back. While there were a few hits on the 3D version and the N64 features an excellent, if somewhat abbreviated, version of the soundtrack, this game seems to slip further back into the pack. Probably the best track in the game in my view is Blacklight Posterboys – If the Animals Could Talk. A few other tracks are pretty decent. There’s also a host of tracks that are just passable. The taunts were quite interesting and some of the sound effects were clearly taken from the N64 version. So, a pretty decent effort overall, but nothing to jump up and down in excitement over.

Overall, this was one of those games I was excited for coming in. I was ultimately disappointed by what I played. This is in the context on how much I enjoyed so many other games in this series. So many features that made the previous games so great were ultimately stripped out. This includes features that were a staple since the very beginning (namely the store). The collectibles were greatly dumbed down and one of the most annoying features that I thought was removed made a return (running to your bike after a crash). The graphics are pretty average for a game of its time, but the audio is pretty decent. An overall decent game, but nothing to get excited over.

Furthest point in game: Beat Jailbreak and Five-O. Beat two tracks in time trial.

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 7/10
Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 66%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.


  • Natasha says:

    “While the graphics may be the most impressive yet in the series, technology has also been developing along the way. Games like Excite Bike 64, Crazy Taxi, Perfect Dark, San Francisco Rush 2049, Timesplitters, andVigilante 8 – 2nd Offense are also out there too. ”
    You’re comparing a PS1 game’s graphics with a bunch of N64/PS2/Dreamcast games?

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