Re(?)Considered: Redneck Rampage
Redneck Rampage is a game few have heard of and even less have played, and in some ways it absolutely encompasses everything I personally stand for in this fine hobby - having fun with games despite their audience, despite technical issues, despite their apparent quality or just being an outright bad idea. Digging deep into a game as an experience and appreciating any and all positive aspects that exist within it.
The game is sometimes dreadful. It looks awful, even by the standards of the old Build engine it runs on. It looks inferior to both Blood and Shadow Warrior despite releasing around the same time. The shooting controls are far from smooth, and most ridiculously the keys cannot be redefined in-game, instead being rebound from the included Setup utility, usually reserved for the selection of sound cards back in the day. Get past this ridiculous nonsense, however, and you’ll find a game full to the brim with atmosphere and fun. Running around blasting rednecks, blowing holes in corn silos, downing cheap moonshine and listening to eight licensed tracks of hootin’-and-a-hollerin’ hick music is a total joy, bringing with it that complex, puzzling map design that older FPS titles seemed to effortlessly produce; I defy anyone not to get completely lost on the first level.
One unique feature is the use of alcohol - beer and whiskey increase your health, but using too much will make your character drunk, causing movement to become erratic and the graphical quality to degrade (further). Drinking more at this point causes you to fall down and vomit, laying there irrespective of any more player input, requiring a quickload. This is something that, perhaps unintentionally, adds a degree of tension and tactics to the game, as you will strive even more than usual to avoid damage because while beer is plentiful, sobriety isn’t. Naturally, you can also press a button to urinate and recover a couple of health points. It's that sort of game.
As things continue, you'll find the quality of the maps rises and falls like my trousers after twelve Diet Pepsis. The sixth level, in an enormous sewer, may well be the nadir of Build engine game design, an incomprehensible labyrinth of near-identical tunnels and switches too dark to see. And yet, when it's on form, Redneck Rampage is superb. Levels can get complex, brilliantly intricate and genuinely exciting as you dive into marshes, clamber into grain silos and swim down toilets. It's that sort of game.
Sure, it’s not as polished as Duke Nukem 3D, but it’s a solid blast and seems to have been completely forgotten. It’s challenging, full of secret areas and has some great weapons, like a chicken launcher - you know, chickens. That's funny. What, Heretic's Morph Ovum isn't funny now? Gaming has a lot of history with chickens. Alfred. Mort. That one from Earthworm Jim. Chickens are inherently entertaining. Just egg-cept it.
Look, I didn't know how to end this. It's hot. I'm self-isolating. Please forgive me.