There’s a running gag in the games industry that games based on licensed properties like movies are doomed to fail, and that’s a gag with plenty of supporting evidence ranging from early Batman games to The Matrix games to many more. Of course, there have been exceptions with the likes of Spider-Man 2 on the PS2 and Goldeneye007 – but they are few and far between, and thus, unable to challenge this norm. It’s generally believed that publishers and property holders to these IPs don’t seem to really grasp what makes games fun, and how best to translate a passive experience like a movie into an active one like a video game.
A great example of this deep misunderstanding between the creators and the players is developer Teyon’s Rambo – The Video Game which was released back in 2014 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The game was unanimously criticized for pretty much everything it tried to do, and remains one of the worst licensed video games of recent memory. To that end, we ask the question – what the hell happened with Rambo – The Video Game?
Rambo The Video Game is obviously based upon the Rambo trilogy which sees popular action hero Sylvester Stallone take on entire hordes of soldiers using guerrilla tactics and primitive weapons like bows and knives. I vividly remember watching these movies and the action-packed set-pieces, and saying to myself, “They really should make a video game out of these movies”. So, when developer Teyon announced Rambo – The Video Game back in 2012 with a short montage of iconic moments from the trilogy, the excitement of all Rambo fans – including myself – were through the roof.
Sure, there had been games based on this very property – but they were limited to primitive games and arcade shooters and Rambo fans were left starving for a proper console release for a long time. Rambo – The Video Game had two major advantages that set it apart from other licensed video games – a) it wasn’t restricted to one movie for source material as the game is based around the whole trilogy and b) there wasn’t any upcoming movie meaning that the developer didn’t have to rush the game to meet deadlines. As such, Rambo – The Video Game seemed set to be a successful licensed video game; one that would quench the thirst of Rambo fans after all these years.
But when Teyon revealed the first gameplay details about what Rambo – The Video Game’s gameplay would entail, fans got suspicious. An on-rails shooter with quick-time events-based stealth sections? That sounds like someone made a Spider-Man game, but subjected players to the mundane life of Peter Parker rather than letting them swing around buildings as the beloved webhead. And these suspicions about Teyon’s upcoming game being a disaster waiting to strike were uplifted when the game was first shown off to the public. Rambo – The Video Game didn’t look like a late-generation PS3 and Xbox 360 title, with its muddy texture work and sub-par character models being two of the biggest issues with this game.
Despite a delay from its original release of 2013 to 2014, the production quality just wasn’t up to the mark. And despite the plentiful red flags, some fans were still hopeful of Rambo – The Video Game being a worthy game. For others though, this was a disaster just waiting to happen. And when Rambo – The Video Game did release to the public, critics and fans across the globe panned the game for a variety of reasons – and many called it out to be one of the absolute worst games of recent memory.
On top of the muddy visuals, the gameplay was pretty shallow – lacking depth and variety as you were subjected to one tightly scripted on-rails shootout after the other. Even the basic act of shooting through hordes of soldiers is made unsatisfying thanks to the brain-dead AI and little variety amongst the shootouts themselves. Entire stealth sections and set-pieces comprised of QTEs, meaning the only real gameplay you get is mowing down endless hordes of soldiers which wasn’t all that fun to begin with.
To add fuel to the fire, the game was only 3 to 4 hours long – though in Rambo’s defense, the game features additional modes and challenge runs to keep players returning for more. But because the core gameplay is so sloppy and unenjoyable, getting through this relatively short campaign feels like a massive trudge – let alone going in for a second or a third time.
Rambo – The Video Game was an utter disappointment by all means. The game stands at a rating of 34 on Metacritic, making it one of the lowest-rated games of all time. What actually went behind the scenes that resulted in such a horrendous output is a big mystery, but almost all signs point to Rambo – The Video Game being a clear case of cash-grab.
For starters, even something as basic as the game’s concept was questionable from the very start. While the graphics aren’t the be-all and end-all for a game, Rambo – The Video Game has such muddy visuals that you could easily mistake the game for a PS2 and Xbox generation title. It’s a complete disaster by all means and seems to have been clearly made on a very tight budget and time constraints with the sole intention of snagging a quick buck from the millions and millions of Rambo fans across the globe.
Looking back at Rambo – The Video Game, this drastic failure seems like an utter disappointment. The team seemed to have everything going in their favour – no strict deadlines and constraints for a tie-in movie release and the like. Just imagine how great it would be if we actually got a proper AAA-level Rambo game that featured these dense and lush jungle environments. The gameplay would be a mix of stealth and action, something akin to Splinter Cell. Rambo would have a huge arsenal of both primal and heavy-duty weaponry at his disposal which he would use to take out huge hordes of enemies all by himself. Of course, we could dream on and on about what that perfect Rambo game could be like – but in the face of such disappointing releases throughout the last decades, it seems highly unlikely that we will see another game featuring this mighty soldier anytime soon.
Hilariously enough, i isn’t the only disappointing release from developer Teyon Entertainment. Following the release of Rambo in 2014, the developer would go on to create yet another licensed video game in the form of Terminator: Resistance which did fare comparatively better than Rambo, but failed to really leave a mark on the industry. Teyon Entertainment is at it once again with the recently unveiled Robocop: Rogue City, which is currently set to release sometime next year. The first look at the game isn’t anything mind-blowing, but we are hoping with crossed fingers that the game changes the fate of this developer for good.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.