8 to Glory has 30 seconds of content that it repeats ad nauseam for the extent of its run time.
I don’t mean that 8 to Glory has a 30 second loop, the short, fun series of actions that form the core of gameplay. I mean that once you’ve played 30 seconds of this game, you have experienced all that it has to offer. And those 30 seconds aren’t good.
The Rhythm Probably Won’t Get You
As the subtitle states, the bull riding sim developed by Three Gates is the Official Game of the PBR (Professional Bull Riders, Inc., not to be confused with Pabst Blue Ribbon), and, as a result, boasts all the love and polish of the cheaply made branded cash-ins of old. Remember when every movie, children’s TV show and even food mascots got their own console game tie-in? 8 to Glory does and wants to get in on the action.
Surprisingly, the way 8 to Glory attempts to do that is with a rhythm game. Well, actually, it’s a few different kinds of rhythm games smashed together. After selecting a rider from a roster of a few dozen real PBR athletes, you’ll clamber into the stirrups. Then, you’ll test your grip strength on the saddle horn before being released into the ring.
This moment plays out like the hacking minigame from BioShock 2. You have three attempts to stop a swiftly moving white line at the moment that it passes over a small white strip. With each graded attempt the white strip gets smaller, thus your job more difficult. Despite playing through the entirety of the campaign, the role that this grip-measuring exercise actually plays in the bull riding section to follow never became clear (though the announcers stress that it’s important).
From there, you’re released into the ring, riding one of a variety of bulls modeled after real PBR contenders. As the bull tries to buck you off its back, you’ll be tasked with pressing R1 in time with its rhythms. Press R1 as the bull lands and you’ll gain control over the bull. Mess the timing up, and the tug-of-war will shift in the bull’s favor. At times, you’ll begin to slide too far in one direction. When this happens, a graphic will appear on screen prompting you to move the left stick right of left. After about six seconds of this, the camera zooms in and the game moves into slow motion, focusing in on the bull as the animal begins to execute a combo. That’s right; this game’s bulls do combos.
After it completes this combo, you’ll be tasked with responding via another rhythm section, this one modeled in the Guitar Hero mold. The face buttons fall from the top of the screen and you’ll need to press them as they pass through an overlay. Depending on the bull’s combo, these notes will either be plentiful and move fast or be spare and move slow. The game offers no explanation for what factors contribute to the difficulty of the bull’s combos.
If you pull this off, you’ll move back into real-time and resume trying to stay on your bull’s back. When you make it to the eight second mark, you’ll dismount to cheers from the crowd and receive a score. If you screw up at any point, you’ll be bucked off the bull and receive no points.
It’s Not Horrible, It’s Just All There Is
None of this feels laborious or painful to play. If it was a WarioWare microgame, it might be okay. But, it isn’t fun, and it’s the only thing that 8 to Glory has to offer. Three Gates tried to pad out the game by including an Arcade Mode and a head-to-head multiplayer mode where one player assumes the role of the rider and the other becomes the bull. The Arcade Mode offers nothing that you can’t see in the campaign except the ability to choose your rider and bull for each ride. But, these make so little difference to the gameplay that there isn’t really a reason to dabble here at all. It’s just as boring as the campaign, but you won’t be rewarded with any progress. And, the local multiplayer flat-out didn’t work for me. I tried to connect multiple controllers, but nothing worked.
It appears that the bulk of the game’s budget was used on accurately rendering the bulls. Despite, the fact that the campaign will take you to 27 different arenas across the United States, every one of them looks exactly the same (though the monster trucks parked on the dirt do undergo occasional palate swaps). Every human character in this game looks like they were modeled with a PS2 release in mind. The bulls are the only thing in 8 to Glory that look like they received any attention, with detailed coat textures and realistic genitalia physics.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that this game was funded by an organization that had no concern about its quality and budgeted accordingly. 8 to Glory is bare bones in every way. The gameplay is minimal. PBR doled out money for two licensed tracks, and one of them, Ryan Weaver’s ode to exercising Second Amendment rights, “Beware of the Owner,” loops endlessly on every menu screen. The same character models are reused for multiple riders. The announcers repeat the same lines over and over again, often within the span of one match. And most of the game looks 15 years older than it actually is.
If you want a game that captures the fantasy cowboy life, let me point you in a different direction.
8 to Glory review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please see our Review Policy.