Up Up Down Down: Rage
Last week on Up Up Down Down, we took a look at Wet, a Bethesda-published Tarantino-esque action game that didn't exactly get the recognition it deserved. This time around, we're going to jump into the ravaged world of another game from the famed publisher — a stellar game that also failed to receive the praise it so rightfully deserved. Rage from id Software was touted as the next great FPS from the iconic Doom developer. Sadly, it didn't exactly meet everyone's grandiose expectations, and the reception was rather lukewarm.
Whether the blame is on id for hyping the game as much as it did, or on the fans themselves for having such huge hopes for something revolutionary is up for debate. Either way, Rage is an absolutely stellar straight-up shooting game with tight mechanics and nonstop action. It's not without a few foibles, though, so let's see what worked and what didn't.
Up Up: Shooting dudes is fun
At the end of the day, we play shooters because of all the crazy bullet-fueled action. Rage has loads of blood-soaked shooting, and it's almost relentless in the way it puts you at the midst of insane battles. You're always outnumbered and being shot at, so you have to constantly be ready for anything. Ultimately, this is id at its absolute best: giving you a game with guns where shooting dudes (and mutants) is the key gameplay element. In that respect, Rage shines incredibly as an FPS.
Down Down: The open world is a dud
A lot of people were expecting id to deliver a lively world rife with things to do. You know, something akin to Borderlands or Fallout. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and this ultimately became one of the main caveats according to detractors. There's just really nothing there in terms of the game's open world. Sure, you can drive around an expansive wasteland, but all you're really doing is going from one mission point to the next with not much else to see, do, or discover in between. Aside from some races and collectibles, the openness of this “open” world is quite bare.
Up Up: Awesome graphics and animations
Even though Rage is two years old, it's hard for me to find too many shooters that look as good on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Simply put, this game looks quite stunning. There's no art design here — this is all technical awesomeness. Each level looks absolutely amazing, and you'd be hard pressed to find a lot of other games from its generation that look this good. Additionally, enemy animations are beautifully fluid and surprisingly realistic. I was blown away the first time I saw the silhouette of an enemy moving around behind some smog due to how lifelike the movements were.
Down Down: A few visual missteps
Rage may be a technical beauty, but there are a few graphical flaws that stand out. While I haven't heard many complaints about the Xbox 360 version, the PlayStation 3 version suffered from some noticeable pop-up. It's a shame, too, because once those textures do appear about after a second, you're treated to a great-looking game. In addition, we all know how abysmal the PC version looked at launch. No textures to be found and ugly polygons everywhere? For shame, id! For shame!
Up Up: A nice challenge
Even on the normal difficulty setting, Rage can certainly test your FPS mettle. Enemies aren't pushovers, and there are often so many of them that you're forced to shoot strategically. That's not to say that this is some thinking man's shooter. Of course, while there's plenty of pure, unadulterated blasting, you also have to take cover, observe your surroundings, and keep track of how many bad guys are around you. Rage isn't the type of game you can just breeze right through, which is great because at the end of it all, you feel totally satisfied.
Down Down: Weak, abrupt ending
Without spoiling anything, easily the most disappointing thing about this game is the finale. Everything comes to an abrupt end, and it almost feels as if everything you worked so hard for results in absolutely no payoff. It doesn't seem as if id will follow up Rage with a sequel, so it could've very well ended here. I suppose we may never know.
Left Right Left Right: Rage is shooting bliss in its purest form
Personally, I love Rage for its unbridled simplicity as an FPS. This is a no-nonsense shooter for fans of the genre who maybe think the current crop of titles have too many bells and whistles. The open world isn't really brimming with things to do, there are some visual flaws in the PlayStation 3 and PC versions, and the campaign comes to a ridiculously abrupt halt. Despite those setbacks, the action is nonstop, looks great, and offers an ample challenge. It may not be the most popular game, but Rage definitely delivers great FPS gameplay in its purest form.
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