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Video Game / Roadkill

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''Flesh, to bone, when The Rot begins to play. Bone, to dust, and your life is blown away." - The Fuzz Brothers

Roadkill is a Vehicular Combat game developed and published by Midway Games in 2003 for the Xbox, PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube. It combined Twisted Metal -style combat with a Grand Theft Auto- like free-roaming mission structure. It featured a rockin' soundtrack of both real and written-for-the game songs, and four-player split-screen multiplayer. The game was only mildly hyped prior to release and thought it met with good reviews, it is to this day relatively obscure, like many Vehicular Combat games that aren't Twisted Metal.

In the 1980s, a deadly plague known as The Rot struck the world, killing untold millions and bringing society to its knees. An unspecified time later, the world is divided up into isolated pockets of "civilization" separated by vast wasteland. The game focuses on three small cities located relatively close to one another: Lava Falls, Blister Canyon and Paradise City. You play the role of Mason Strong, professional tough guy. Some years prior, he helped a man named Axl and his gang, the Sentinels, take control of Paradise City and drag it screaming out of tribalism into something resembling a functioning society. They had a falling out, and Mason was Left for Dead. Now he's back for revenge.


He can't just go straight for Axl, though. There's a whole bunch of unruly street gangs between him and Paradise City, and he's gotta get through them first.

Roadkill exhibits the following tropes:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The entrance to Paradise City is a giant sewer tunnel big enough to drive trucks through. The radio mentions that multiple cars got stuck trying to get through at once, though. The game's Big Bad declared them an enema of the state.
  • Action Bomb: An entire type of side-mission is dedicated to fighting off hordes of enemies in tiny cars that
explode on contact. Before you get the better upgrades, these can be one-hit kills. In the first version of this mission, your worst enemy will be the awkward camera angle you're stuck at.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: Were there a sequel, this would probably be a required addition.
  • After the End: By post apocalyptic stands, it's not so bad. There's electricity and running water, and food isn't scarce. Business, commerce and even hospitals seem to run perfectly fine. But by normal standards, a world where the only law comes from warring gangs, everyone is armed to the teeth and murder is a daily hobby for most people isn't exactly ideal. The radio programs make it pretty clear things are pretty bleak. Played for Laughs for the most part, though.
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  • A.K.A.-47: Several of the cars are recognizable as real-world ones, sans real names. Among them are a Mini Cooper, a 70's era Firebird and an El Camino- amusingly named the Cajones.
  • All There in the Manual: Quite literally. The game manual contains bits of lore not explored in the full game, such as Mason's backstory before the apocalypse and how he ended up with the Sentinels, facts about the three cities, and the name of the big desert Mason was driving around in at the start of the game ("Python Canyon.") There's also tiny details that are only alluded to by lines of dialogue in the cutscenes and radio.
    • One bit of lore that really isn't written anywhere and you have to piece together yourself from looking at the stat screen is the "Bedlamite" faction. Their name means "crazy" and they're the guys in hazmats suits. Their cars have no weapons and they're not at war with any faction, so they're probably an altruistic group that exists to fight The Rot, and they're probably the reason the plague isn't such a big deal anymore. Maybe keep that in mind next time you're spewing out machine-gun rounds into crowds of people, tough guy.
  • Alternate History: The story starts with a massive plague striking humanity in the 1980s.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: Well, it's more of a carnival of drugs and prostitutes and the clowns are more darkly hilarious then intimidating, but hey, people get killed often. Visually, the Daredevils' carnival hangout fits the trope, including the gigantic Sweet Tooth-esque clown face.
  • Anticlimax Boss: When the final boss fight with Axl in his giant tank works correctly, it's perfectly fine, if a bit quick. Unfortunately, due to the boss' wonky pathfinding and movement physics he tends to drive straight into the ocean and die.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Given that this is a game where you can't get out of your car, you'll always die when your vehicle is destroyed. Thankfully, several game design decisions were built around this fact.
    • If your car tips on its side or upside-down, it'll automatically flip back over instead of blowing up or getting stuck.
    • Vehicles handle a bit like bumper cars (fitting, as one of them IS a bumper car) the wheels have a downright magnetic connection to the ground. meaning that after a big jump or fall, you won't have to worry about your landing.
    • Crashing into walls and other cars does minimal damage. Only the faster, more fragile cars ever have to worry about it. The main way damage is dealt is through combat.
    • Repairing your car is as easy and simple as driving into a repair pickup, which you can find all over all three cities. Once you memorize their locations, big chases and battles becoming much less stressful.
    • Turning is always stable and consistent. It'll only ever slow you down slightly and you'll rarely, if ever, veer out of control.
    • Early on, you can buy upgrades that allow you control your car when it's flying or jumping, and even stop in place mid-air. This is extremely helpful for difficult jumps or when you need to get on top of a building.
    • Mines are an essential part of the game's combat. If you're being chased by enemies shooting at you, you can drop a few and kill them off rather than having to stop and turn around.
    • If you're having trouble finding hidden collectibles, you can buy an item at the store that'll mark one on your map. A tab on the pause menu gives you a list of all the ones you've collected.
    • When enemy gangs turn hostile, they can swarm you and eat away at your health, and fighting back for too long will inevitably cause the Sentinels to show up. Luckily, gangs will only shoot at you if you hit them first or are driving a vehicle affiliated with a rival gang, and driving an unaffilated car won't attract any attention at all.
      • To add to that, gangs will only shoot at you if you're driving a car affiliated with their direct enemy, not just any other gang car. So you cruise through Paradise City in a Gaucho car without worrying about the Dregs or South League shooting at you. This even extends to the Talons and Daredevils, who hate each other in the storyline but don't share a city, so they won't shoot at you.
  • Bandito: The Gauchos gang in Lava Falls are this.
  • Bad Ass Driver: Pretty much everybody with a car.
  • Big Bad: Axl.
  • The Berserker: The Talons gang in Blister Canyon have mohawks, tattoos, and large amounts of Ax-Crazy. Their leader's car has an Invisibility Cloak.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The good guys in this game revel in death and destruction and are quite cruel to their enemies, but all the enemies you face are far more vicious and cruel. Axl, the main villain, is a megalomaniac tyrant who has his henchmen murder people just because they can't defend themselves.
  • Black Comedy: On the whole, the game veers between this and Black Comedy.
  • Bottomless Magazines: You never have to reload anything. You still need to grab ammo pickups, though.
  • Car Fu: An effective way to deal with enemy infantry. Plus, they say hilarious things when you do it.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This game isn't short on swearing.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A running theme in the game's world. A notable example is the hosts of the "Gear Talk" radio station, Frank and Vinny, who regularly brag about how many people they kill with their ridiculous weaponry for pure fun.
    Vinny: "and I ain't defending myself, this ain't the Alamo here. I'm just trying to have a little fun on the weekend."
  • Collection Sidequest: In order to get newer and better cars, you have to go looking for the parts.
  • Crapsack World: And surprisingly, Big Bad Axl had somewhat improved it. That doesn't matter though, since as far as Mason's concerned he's kind of an asshole.
    • If the radio host, Stu Pickles is to be believed, Axl greatly favors the rich over the poor, has people beaten, banished or killed for trivial reasons and generally likes to abuse his power. All things that Stu thinks are just wonderful.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mason.
    "Is your name Mason?"
    "Yeah, last time I checked."
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Unfortunately, these are about the only female characters this game has. Besides the wife of one of the radio gun show hosts who likes to take a flamethrower and... Nevermind.
    • Inverted by some of the sex workers on the radio, who actively kill or endanger their own "clients" for trivial reasons. Hey, what goes around comes around!
  • Dirty Cop: The Sentinels serve as the police force. They're little more then gangsters in Weaponized Cop Cars.
  • Enemy Mine: Mason teams up with the Daredevils, the Section 8s, and the South League gangs against their rivals, in order to get to Axl. Everybody hates the Sentinels, so this helps Mason anyway.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: And how.
  • Expository Theme Tune: In addition to being Awesome, many of the Fuzz Brothers songs describe the backstory and the Crapsack World.
  • Fake Band: The Fuzz Brothers. The in-game radio station WYLD 66.6 plays their songs in between interviewing the band about their colorful career.
  • Fan Boy: As you progress through the game, Mason acquires a cult of followers who fight for him. they all have the same character model as your pintle-gun sidekick.
  • Final Boss: Axl.
  • Football Hooligans: The South League gang in Paradise City. They're a rowdy bunch who apply a football metaphor to everything from parties to fighting the Sentinels and the Dregs for control of the city. They're also the most sympathetic of the gangs Mason allies with.
  • Gameplay Grading: There's some form of rank system in the game, though all it does is measure the total destruction you've caused over the course of the game. You begin at Punk and progress to such ranks as Hooligan, Ass Clown, and much later they get threatening, with Grim Reaper, Reaper of Death and finally Road Lord.
  • Gang of Hats: Seven, all told. Eight if you count Mason's gang. Who all look like his Side Kick.
  • Glass Cannon: Many of the smaller cars can be this, depending on what weapons you equip.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: All of the Sentinels wear goggles over their helmets. If you run one over, they will occasionally scream "My goggles!"
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Even the "good" gangs in the games do things like strap bombs to their enemies and send them running into the sewers to clear out rubble. Mason, the game's protagonist, can be quite cruel depending on the player's actions, and his sidekick Spike won't hesitate to mow down civilians if you've already hit them.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Axl. Mason, in response.
  • Improbable Weapon User: During one of the interviews with the Fuzz Brothers, it's mentioned that their drummer beat a former bandmate to death with a pancake.
  • Large Ham: Axl, the game's Big Bad, can't get through a sentence without raising his arms to the sky and shouting about how glorious he is. The fact that his voice is identical to Vegeta's English dub voice makes it even better.
    • The DJ of the classic rock station, Thunder Bob, hams it up quite a bit with his ultra-cool rockstar persona. Bonus points: he's also voiced by Chris Sabat, and sounds identical to Piccolo.
  • Macho Camp: The second-in-command of the Section Eights, Sargeant Gunny, speaks like a Drill Sergeant Nasty when giving orders to his men, but he drops that and switches to a gay lisp when speaking to Mason, and is quite enthusiastic about "stripping down" the men under his command and remaking them as badass soldiers.
    • Averted with the gang's leader, General Warwick, who speaks in a normal tone of voice, has a son and is seen in photographs with half-naked women. He still wears the same ludicrous military fetish gear as everyone else, though.
  • Mighty Glacier: The "Rigg" Semi-truck is sluggish but possesses heavy armor.
  • Military Mashup Machine: Axl drives a huge... tank with six studded wheels, numerous weapons and a giant grinder in the front.
  • More Dakka: Your car has configurable primary and secondary weapon slots, plus your Sidekick on a secondary gun turret. All three can be equipped with ballistics (the turret is always a machine gun).
  • New Era Speech: Axl gives one of these in a Flash Back, after the Sentinels took over Paradise.
  • Noodle Incident: On Gear Talk Radio, Frank and Vinny offer a coupon for What-A-Snatch-Burger as a prize, a fast food place that Frank is apparently banned from. He claim he can't talk about it for legal reasons, only mentioning that they said he was "obscene to the mayonaise" (explicitly *to*, not *with*) and that he thought the donkey was fully sanctioned and licensed. [[Squick It's probably for the best we don't know the whole story.]]
  • Notice This: Power ups float, spin, and have colored auras.
  • One-Word Title: It's a Vechicular Combat game.
  • Optional Traffic Laws: Pfff. Like the Sentinels care anyway. Just don't crash into their cars. They don't like that.
  • Police Brutality: As the Sentinels are little more then a heavily-armed gang masquerading as cops, this is par for the course.
  • Pompous Political Pundit: The host of 101.1 PICK, Stu Pickles, is a right-wing Talk Show host who blames the Democrats for the spread of The Plague that destroyed civilization, calls all of his opponents stupid and retarded, and firmly believes that murder is awesome and that Violence Is the Only Option. He also acts as a propagandist for Axl, praising him for restoring order and promoting his enslavement of people as a "work-study program" that gives people direction in life.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Said by Mason to the South League's leader prior to their assault on the Sentinels.
    "Put me in, coach. I'm ready to play."
  • Portmantitle: It's a Vechicular Combat game.
  • The Remnant: The Section 8s gang of Blister Canyon appear to be the vestiges of the US military. However, they soon appear to be a bit... well, flowery.
Shout-Out: The Pompous Political Pundit is named Stu Pickles, and he mentions having a son named Tommy.
  • Sequel Hook: In the ending, Mason receives a radio transmission from a settlement somewhere out in the wastes that is under attack. He decides to go help, saying something like "Here we go again."
  • Sidekick: A Daredevils guy (who happens to not be a clown or English-sounding) joins Mason at the beginning of the game, manning the turret gun of his cars, ostensibly to keep an eye on him for the Daredevils boss. By the end of the game, the two are Fire-Forged Friends.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Regularly.
  • Token Minority: Inverted with the Section 8s. The gang's second-in-command is extremely flamboyant, when he's not being generally terrifying, the standard uniforms are extremely fetishistic and the grunts tend to shout things like "Don't ask, don't tell!" in free roam, but the leader himself, General Warwick, is actually straight. Though he does have some... peculiar tastes.
  • Wanted Meter: If Mason starts causing a lot of havoc, the letters R, I, O, T will appear on your HUD. Get a full "Riot" and the Sentinels will come gunning for him.
  • Weaponized Car: Yup.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Sort of. You're free to drive around the cities in-between story missions, but there's not much to do besides races, search for parts to make new cars, and cause random havoc.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Axl, though this might be pushing it. He's a total Jerkass.
  • Witty Banter: Aside from the main characters themselves, the radio show personalities are really funny to listen to, especially the two hosts of WYLD 66.6 interviewing the Fuzz Brothers, the gravely-voiced classic rock station host Thunder Bob, and the two midwestern-sounding guys who host a talk show about cars and weapons.
  • Wretched Hive: All three cities. Lava Falls and Blister Canyon are pretty overt about it, whereas Paradise City has a thin veil of order maintained by the Sentinels' Police Brutality. The people there do have a somewhat better standard of living then the other areas. Regardless, it's largely Played for Laughs.
  • Vehicular Combat: And nothing but. What, do you really want to get out of your car in a world like this?
  • Visionary Villain: Axl again.
  • The Virus: The Rot. It's mostly a Back Story point, though. By the time the game takes place it's already run it's course.


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