Rage Review

Reviewed By: Jimmy Kovalski

Release Date: October 04, 2011

Developer: id

Publisher: Bethesda

Rating: M for Mature (Blood and Gore/Intense Violence/Strong Language)

Players: 1-2 (Local) 2-4 (Online)

Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC

RAGE is ID’s latest attempt to reinvent the FPS genre once again. For the most part, RAGE is a solid FPS game that has some great potential, but ultimately falls just a little short in the end.

Rage starts off with a bang as the opening cinematic shows a meteor crashing into Earth. This event is the reasoning behind why the environment in RAGE looks like a post-apocalyptic mess with barren desserts, rotting cities, mutated monsters running wild, and human civilization clinging to life. You play the role as a nameless, emotionless man who survived because of these survival pods known as Arks. You awaken several years into the future and everyone else in your pod is dead. The door opens and you step out into the open world of RAGE.

The story starts out in a very intriguing manner. You wonder who you are, how exactly did you survive and not anyone else? You are then saved by a man named Dan Hagar, voiced by none other than John Goodman. The main plot to RAGE is mostly a power struggle. The last remaining pockets of human civilization are clinging to life in make-shift settlements, towns and even small cities. These people are constantly being attacked by Bandits, Mutants and a secret group known as the “Authority”.

Ultimately, RAGE’s story never really captures your attention. Hardly any of the questions you may have are ever answered, and there are no plot twists at all. You just bounce from one fetch quest to another and before you know it, it ends. The only thing you really get from the story is that it’s your job to bring down the Authority before they bring you down. The story is by far the biggest let down in this game, and the ending…well….it just ends. No climax, no plot twist, nothing, and is one of the worst endings in gaming in my opinion…Fortunately for RAGE, its other features somewhat redeem it.

By all of the trailers, you probably know that RAGE is supposed to be one of the best looking games around, and for the most part it actually fits the bill. ID built RAGE from the ground up using ID TECH 5 (their new engine) and the game really does look amazing 85% of the time. The other 15% is texture pop-in. In every new area it can take several seconds for textures to load up. This can really pull you out of the experience at times. This happens more often on the PS3 version, but by no means is it leaps and bounds better on the 360 (just make sure you install it) and the PC version has its graphical hiccups as well.The lighting effects are very good and are some of the best around. The sound design is okay, not the best. The guns sound satisfying, and the voice acting is good. The vehicles however, sound like lawnmowers and the overall score of the game isn’t ground-breaking, but it is moody and fits the setting pretty well. The one thing I was impressed with the most was the overall animation and voice acting of the several NPC’s scattered around the world. They really feel like they all have a story to tell and they all show emotions, some more than others. I ultimately found myself caring for several characters in the game and wanted to know more about them, but the game failed to deliver any character development at all.

I was also blown away by the enemy animations. The enemies in the game, whether they be bandits, mutants, or heavily armored cops, don’t just mindlessly charge you in a straight line like they do in so many other FPS’s around today. They will take cover, flank you (if possible), charge you while you reload or are low on health, and in the case of the mutants, dip, dodge, roll and swing from objects. This can make some gun fights down right exhilarating. When RAGE is running on all cylinders, it is a down right assault on the senses and is one of the best looking games around.

One thing that most people didn’t know much about heading up to the retail release was the RPG elements. I will tell you that they are here and they work well. Now, by no means is this a game that’s heavy on RPG elements, but the few elements that are here are satisfying. You do not have levels in the game, but you can pretty much upgrade anything. You can buy upgrades for your guns, vehicles and armor and there are plenty of options for each. The game also has a loot system. Every enemy can be looted, granting you money or ingredients. Every location has a great amount of loot to be found. These items can be sold for money, made into new ammo types or even sentry bots to help you out. Along your journey you will find schematics to build or engineer certain items. You can create new ammo types, bandages, sentry bots, turrets, grenades and other interesting items. The game also does a great job in telling you what you need to keep and what you can just sell. This prevents you from throwing away anything important. There is also a quest system here. Most don’t branch too far from the main storyline, but there is a good bit to do when it comes to questing. These reward you in money or special items instead of XP. It does pay off to explore towns and complete all the side quests here though.

Another gameplay element of RAGE is the vehicle combat aspect. This is questioned by many, but actually is a very fun and enjoyable game element.There are a few different types of cars (buggies) in the game. Some of these are given to you and some can be earned by winning races. Each and every vehicle can be upgraded by either giving it another boost slot, making it faster, different wheels, more armor, different paint, and most importantly, different guns. The wasteland is a vast and dangerous place. The land is crawling with bandits driving around ready to shoot anything that moves. So it is very important that you take some time and figure out what buggies fits you and what guns you like the most. The driving controls cab be weird at first, but after a little while you will get use to them and driving becomes fun. You will soon begin to love engaging in the car combat.

There isn’t a vast amount of different weapons, but what is here really does work. There are the standard pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, and submachine gun, along with a rocket launcher, cross-bow, and a side-arm called a wing-stick. Each of these weapons can be upgraded and have a handful of different ammo types. Early on in RAGE, you’ll stick to the standard ammo types, but later you will need to exhaust all different types to defeat some of the tougher enemies. The wing-stick is a very fun side-arm but also is kind of like an easy button. It usually takes down any enemy with 1-hit. That is, as long as you hit them in the head. I found myself stocking up on them and mainly using them instead of my guns.

The game also comes packed with a co-op mode. You and a friend (either online or via the couch) can partake in several missions. These are fun and somewhat varied. In an age where split-screen has become endangered, it’s a nice option. The game also comes with competitive multiplayer, but it is not standard FPS stuff here. It is all car combat. This may seem to be a weird choice, but it’s actually very fun. There are a couple of different modes that 2-4 players can partake in. This most likely wont be something you’ll play months after release, but it’s a fun distraction from all of the other FPS online shooters out there.

There is some replayablitly here. The capaign will take you 9-12 hours, which may be on the short side for some people, but several different difficulties, stunt jumps, a load of collectibles, and a few fun mini-games will have you returning to the single-player portion for at least a second time.

In the end, RAGE is a good game. It has solid gameplay, surprising RPG elements, and an enjoyable car combat element. Ultimately, I felt like this could have been the next big thing. It could have been the next big Sci-Fi epic. There are some great characters in here that are begging for a story and many questions that need answered. I feel as though this game could have benefited more if it leaned more toward the RPG side than the FPS side. Many missed opportunities here, but don’t let that turn you off. RAGE is still a solid game and I recommend that you at least give it a try.

Pros:

+ Great gameplay

+ Great visuals (most of the time)

+ Amazing voice acting

+ Surprisingly good (but few) RPG elements

+ Satisfying car combat

Cons

- Terrible story from beginning to end

- It…well…it just ends

- A lot of texture pop-in no matter what system you’re playing on

- A ton of potential that is never realized

- Tacked on multiplayer elements

Final Verdict: 8/10

Price of game when reviewed: $10-$20

For the cheap prices you can find this game for nowadays, I’d say pick it up. It’s a good play.