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Riskers Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . On paper, the idea of merging the original Grand Theft Auto with Hotline Miami sounds like one of those things that can't go wrong. But it does, in a whole bunch of frustrating ways. This is a crime thriller with a bland story set in a boring city filled with missions that go on for entirely too long. Riskers looks and acts the part, but it fails to capture what made those other games memorable in the first place. Rating: 40%
Riskers
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  • Review Score:

  • C-
When the original Grand Theft Auto was released all the way back in 1998, few expected the franchise to go on to sell more than 225 million units and spawn a whole generation of open world sandbox games. It was simple, overhead and kind of hard to play; an action game many critics considered to be a novelty. Grand Theft Auto is no longer a novelty, and the games we see these days offer the types of epic 3D environments that were impossible to believe just two decades ago. But what if you miss those early days when mowing down pedestrians in San Andreas meant squinting to make out tiny pixels? Then let me introduce you to Riskers, a brand new action game that shares more than a passing resemblance to the crime simulator that started it all. Too bad it's a bit of a novelty.

Riskers is the kind of game where if you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can almost hear the pitch meeting. Without being too reductive, this mixes the overhead antics of the original Grand Theft Auto with the fast-paced fun of Hotline Miami and adds in Max Payne's comic book cinemas for good measure. It's not the world's most original action game, but it does a good job of evoking the things people liked about those franchises. Unfortunately, it also mimics most of the things people hated.


You play Rick Paradis, a former criminal that has managed to turn his life around and get a job as a garbage collector. As luck would have it, Rick stumbles upon a briefcase full of money that was mysteriously discarded into a dumpster. Unfortunately, his luck runs out the moment he realizes that the city's deadliest gang is after him. This sets up a familiar crime thriller where you explore the open world, get to know a wide variety of colorful characters and kill hundreds of mobsters to stay alive.

Here's one good thing I'll say about Riskers: It does a good job pretending to be other games. The open world city stuff looks and feels the part, giving us plenty of streets and back alleys to explore between stealing cars and running from cops. When Rick arrives at his destination, we're treated to missions that play out exactly like Hotline Miami. These are action-packed fights where we race through buildings picking up guns and doing whatever we can to take out the guards. It's all very familiar, but at least the developers didn't screw up the gameplay or presentation.

The problem is that they screwed up almost everything else. Let's start with the city, which may have a name, but I never caught it. That's indicative of everything that's wrong with this location. There's absolutely nothing memorable about it. The streets all look the same, the city blocks are bland and there's no personality anywhere on display. It might as well be a blank slate. Say what you will about the visuals in those first few Grand Theft Auto games, but each city had its own distinct character. The city in Riskers is boring and unremarkable in every way.

But at least the Hotline Miami-style missions are exciting, right? Think again. Like I said a moment ago, Riskers does a good job with the look and the control. If you only play one or two missions, then chances are you'll come away thinking that the developers nailed it. But hold up a second, because while this game certainly looks the part, it makes a few fundamental mistakes that break the whole damn thing.

Riskers (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The thing that made Hotline Miami so popular was how bite-sized it felt. None of the stages were especially long, so you could get in, kill everybody, and get out in only a few minutes. That's not the case in Riskers. Some of these stages will take fifteen to twenty minutes, always without any kind of checkpoint. Remember, this is the kind of game where a lone gunman can come out of nowhere and kill you in a single shot. It's one thing to have to replay a three minute stage, but it ceases to be fun when you die in the cheapest way possible after twenty minutes of hard work. Instead of being invigorated by the larger missions, I found myself hating the entire experience.

As you might expect, Riskers comes with the usual assortment of open world mini games and side quests. There are people around town that want you to kill a marked target and steal certain cars, which isn't nearly as much fun as it sounds. The mini-games are also lackluster, giving us the typical race events and fight clubs. Most of these are harmless, but I found the rampage-style challenge missions to be especially troubling. They'll tell you to kill a certain amount of civilians, and then drop you off in the middle of nowhere with nobody around. You'll spend half the time trying to find even one person to kill, let alone 60. It would be comical if it wasn't so frustrating.

On paper, the idea of merging the original Grand Theft Auto with Hotline Miami sounds like one of those things that can't go wrong. But it does, in a whole bunch of frustrating ways. This is a crime thriller with a bland story set in a boring city filled with missions that go on for entirely too long. Riskers looks and acts the part, but it fails to capture what made those other games memorable in the first place.
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