Rage has been on the radar of both shooter fans and RPG enthusiasts for a while now. Can you blame them? The awe inspiring gameplay trailers showcase excellent gunplay, incredible graphics, and a world that’s ripe for exploring. Well, the time is finally upon us to step into the shoes of an Ark survivor and step out into the wasteland to experience all that Rage has to offer. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
Not many people favor you; in fact, almost everyone wants to put either a bullet or some sort of bladed object through your head. This is because you’re an Ark survivor. The planet suffered from a pretty bad accident caused by a massive asteroid. Much of the landscape has been changed and now mutants roam free, preying on the lives of the people just trying to make it. Being an Ark survivor puts you in the crosshairs of almost every enemy faction, and as you progress through Rage, you’ll find out why.
Rage is definitely not the easiest game, and this is partially because of the extremely smart enemy AI. I have never seen enemies jump around, dodge, take cover, and evade shots like they do in Rage, and it will require some patience--aimless shooting will often result in wasted bullets, and that’s one thing you always want to make sure you’re stocked up on.
To call Rage an open world game is a bit of a stretch. Sure, you do have the freedom (once you unlock modes of transportation) to drive around the vast wasteland, getting into some fierce combat situations with other vehicles, or visit other settlements, but the story that Rage presents has you mostly going on a set path. The “being able to go anywhere and do anything” mentality of games like Oblivion, and even Borderlands to some extent, is definitely not found in Rage. Though to its credit, it rarely leaves you with a boring or dull moment.
There are sidequests to be completed and other activities to take part in, such as race events which unlock various vehicle upgrades, or even an in-depth trading card game called Rage Frenzy. A lot of the better cards are found in the game world, and can be used to construct a much better deck. Those, however, are just a few of the collectibles that are found scattered through Rage’s wasteland. Various “junk” can be found throughout the world which can be used in the game’s hefty crafting system. It’s not the most complicated formula for crafting and just requires a recipe from which the necessary items will then be displayed. A simple button press and BAM!--the item is at your beckoning call. Item crafting is absolutely essential if you want to get the most out of Rage. Lock grinders will grant access to sealed off areas housing some goodies, bandages will heal you in a pinch, and R/C cars outfitted with explosives are a crazy fun time when steered into a group of ugly mutant killers.
Speaking of gadgets, there are a slew of guns that make enemy encounters extremely fun. From the intial handgun to the combat shotgun, to assault rifles and rocket launchers, there is plenty of variety to dispose your enemies with. Each gun also has multiple ammo types that cause varying degrees of damage and other status effects. It’s a blast experimenting which gun and ammo type works best against the numerous enemies.
If you’re expecting to loot guns from fallen enemies, you’re in for a surprise. Though you can loot for ammo and cash, guns disappear as soon as an enemy is disposed of. I understand the mechanics behind this, you’re supposed to feel like you’re constantly scrounging for more ammo and developing or buying various guns with your saved up cash, but it’s slightly odd to see weapons just disappear into thin air.
Rage’s driving mechanics are quite impressive, considering they’re mounted inside of an FPS game. Sure, it feels incredibly arcade-like but to its credit, but it’s not something you’re supposed to take incredibly seriously. Various races will have you vying for the best time, but most will just have you outfit your car with a mini-gun or rocket launcher, take out your enemies as fast as possible, and take first place. You can take these races online, which for the most part is always more fun than playing against the computer, but I didn’t find myself glued to this. Where Rage truly shines is its single player experience.
id Software has a pedigree among shooters and knows a thing or two about how to make them an extremely fun experience. Using the id Tech 5 Engine, the graphics look absolutely stunning, and believe me when I say that’s an understatement. Sure, the game has some slight texture pop-in from time to time, but everything about the games environments, objects, people, vehicles, and enemies is extremely detailed. Each character's facial animation is completely believable and makes it that much more impressive since they didn’t resort to using the face capture software seen in L.A. Noire. Having this much detail does come with a catch. Loading times are generally very long no matter what system you’re playing it on, and the game advises you right from the get-go to install it on the hard drive. To further put the amount of detail in perspective, the fact that the game isn’t terribly long and yet still comes on three discs on the 360 should be quite the indicator.
It’s a bit of a missed opportunity that the game doesn’t support a full co-op campaign, though I understand it wouldn’t exactly make sense within the context of the story. The only co-op mode in the game takes the form of single missions that act like arcade stages, pitting you and a buddy against an onslaught of enemies. Is it fun? Sure! Will you spend more than an hour with this mode? Probably not. It doesn’t quite have the lasting power that multiplayer modes should have.
Rage is a great experience that’s coupled with some intensely fun gunplay and some incredibly impressive graphics. It's not quite the Borderlands meets Fallout experience that gamers were expecting. It isn't very long, and it does skimp out on character development, but it focuses more on what id knows best--shooting things in the face. This is one post-apocalyptic wasteland that you’ll definitely want to venture into.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]