Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Software
Console: Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Release Date: October 4, 2011
Genre: First-person shooter
Players: Single and Multiplayer (Online Play: 6 Versus/ 2 Co-op and Local Play:2 Co-op)
Rage is a difficult title to work with as it conjures up one of the most extreme emotions a human can experience, and while it can be said of the enemies you face in the wasteland, who mainly spend their time hollering and snarling as they bear down on you, that Rage is the primary emotion on their part, otherwise the rest of the game is largely sterile and lacking in any real emotion beyond disinterest.
Rage’s story and pacing plays out much like any other shooter and makes no attempts to avoid clichés or overused tropes, not that it matters much as it clearly doesn’t take these aspects very seriously. If anything, the setting of Rage is an homage to the sci-fi and post-apocalyptic genres found throughout the film and videogame worlds and as such has been built very lovingly around familiar themes. It is commendable that it is still able to build on very well-trodden foundations with fresh and engaging designs and gameplay. The first pleasant surprise was the breadth of the styles in the enemies you face as you’ll encounter several very unique gangs with their own stylized hideouts, weaponry, and characterizations. Within the gangs, however, the classes remain fixed with ‘Melee’, ‘Shooter’ and ‘Heavy’ types, though some gangs are much more agile than others who usually sport more armor or better weapons. The most versatile group are the mutants who come in a large variety and include some aesthetic variations on the same class but which are still unique enough for it not to feel like lazy design. For the most part you’ll not find much issue when dealing with the enemies, though your first major encounter with mutants in the Dead City will be rather more difficult than anything following it due to your lack of powerful weaponry. On that point, it should be said that there is a very distinct cliff edge from scrabbling around for every last bullet you can find to being overburdened with more guns than sense, after which point the challenge lessens considerably and any attempt at stealth is highly undesirable. Said weapons are very satisfying to use though as all of them come with a rather tasty kick, though later enemies will, unfortunately, become bullet sponges which detracts from the fun of slicing through the opposition.
The animations of Rage are some of the best I’ve seen in any game and everything that moves is very deftly integrated into the world. Enemies will stumble from leg or waist shots, shoot at you from their backs after being downed and will flee from a losing battle. NPCs also act with amazing depth and character and most quest-givers have an interesting physical quirk or aspect that catches the eye in a charming way. It is a shame then that their verbal communications with you are limited and once they have emptied their cache of communications they will hardly even look upon you again, which breaks the otherwise fantastic immersion. The same can also be said of passers-by, who are very chatty upon your first visit to the towns but who will later utter nothing as you wander around lending an odd robotic feel to once animated peoples. None of these citizens share the same model, however, and you will soon begin to recognise everyone as you make your rounds to quest-givers and shops. Overall the communities are a welcome homely change from the hectic shooting and driving of the rest of the game, the latter of which I have to say I am not so sure about. It seems to me as though this is really two games in one, or is at least trying to be, because the driving is so incongruous with the rest of the action that I can only assume it was a separate idea that got developed separately and integrated at a later date. However loosely the rest of the game plays with life and death, it still maintains a semblance of realism in both the effort and gore of gunplay, yet as soon as you get behind the wheel it immediately becomes ten times camper and ten times sillier. There is no threat of death in races, despite the assurances from NPCs that racing is a bloody sport, and flitting between destinations on the main map can easily become a tedious mini-game that does nothing to ingratiate itself with the tight corridor designs of dungeons and other locations. By the end of the game you will also have too many vehicles to choose from and will regret spending so much time and money on the previous model because you thought it would be the last one you’d find. That said, the driving can make for a fun diversion and helps to break up the pacing after a long, drawn-out shooting section though the races are too easily won and lose their novelty very early on.
Overall Rage is a very satisfying game that rewards you for killing bad guys with bigger guns, and which it does as well as the next best game. The stand-out point for Rage is in its wide-ranging enemy designs and the wide-ranging ways in which you can shoot their faces off, and though it could do without much of the driving it still manages to keep you hooked right up until the end.
Are you one of the people that bought Rage? If not, Why didn’t you buy it?