Co-written by Patrick Maginnis and Micah Messer
Since two of our reviewers were interested in this game, we decided to do a joint review, with both writers contributing to the opinions and final score represented in this review.
Explosions! Gunfire! Mutants and angry people! Oh my! Welcome to Rage, another generic-post-apocalyptic-wasteland-shooter. Developer ID Software, the same fellas who were behind Doom and Quake bring us another game in the first-person shooter genre. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite leave the same mark on gaming history that their previous titles did. It really seems like ID thought of Rage as a chance to show off their fancy new engine, rather than to apply a brilliant new game idea.
Speaking of fancy new game engines, ID tech 5 is an impressive one. Rage features some absolutely beautiful landscapes and animations. The environments and enemy movements set it apart the most from other games in its genre. The enemies jump around like an unattended fire hose as they leap on walls, flank you, and really just jump all over the place. They never stay in one place too long. Bullet detection is also very satisfying as enemies clench their faces when you shoot them between the eyes, or stumble over their foot when you fill their toes full of lead. The attention to detail in each animation is very impressive. Also, the wide-open environments and scenery are truly something to behold. That being said, it is still another generic-post-apocalyptic-wasteland-shooter and it exudes the ‘been there, done that’ feeling.
The story is fairly simple [slightly nonexistent]. It opens with an asteroid plummeting towards planet earth. The main character is then selected to be cryogenically frozen and injected with nanomachines and put into something called an Arch to survive the blast. As mankind’s last hope for survival, you wake up many years in the future and everything has gone to hell. The majority of the story takes place in the last third of the game, when you meet the Resistance, who are taking on the Authority (very creative names). The Authority are the aforementioned angry people who run everything and try to kill you along with the other Arch escapees. Not to give any spoilers, but the ending of the game is very abrupt and unsatisfying. Neither of us had any idea that we were nearing completion until the credits started to roll.
The game plays like any other first person shooter you’ve played in the last few years. You pop in and out of cover, aim for the head and pray that your magical ability to regenerate your health is still working the next time you take too much damage at once. We’ve seen this formula a thousand times used in other games of the genre. Rage plays it safe and sticks with what has been successful in this Call of Duty-era of shooters. This is fairly disappointing, as Rage already uses the ever tiring wasteland setting, it would have been nice to see it experiment a bit in gameplay. The entire time playing, we found ourselves wishing for more RPG and less shooter. It teases you a bit by having an RPG-like quest structure, an inventory/looting system, and a present but restrictive crafting menu. Rage’s inability to stray away from the norm really weighs down the final product.
There are a number of underwhelming boss fights throughout the game that provide no real challenge or complicated mechanics. They all feel forced and unnecessary for this type of game. Even though they felt the need to jam these encounters into the game, they did not include a final boss, which contributes to the unsatisfying ending.
His laser targeting is more of just an indication to dodge…
Some of the weapons are cool as hell, and gun detail is excellent. It has one of the coolest crossbows we have seen in recent gaming history. There are many different types of ammo, which are more effective when used against certain enemies, including electrobolts, a burst-fire pistol round, exploding shotgun shells, and armor-shredding machinegun rounds. Enemies turn into a bloody mess when you shoot them with rockets or explosive rounds. Last but not least, Wingsticks, which are basically three-bladed boomerangs of death, are naturally one of the best things in the entire game. We stocked up on a hundred of these bad boys before every mission.
“There he was, staring me down like I was a well-endowed anime girl”
Rage is sort of a pseudo open-world game, so naturally you need a way to get around. This is where the game’s vehicles come in. Throughout the game, you unlock various cars that you can use to get from destination to destination, as well as take part in races and battles using mounted guns. The vehicles aren’t very enjoyable to use, but they serve their purpose as a way of transportation. Thankfully, the game only forces you to do a handful of races, and the rest are optional.
I say pseudo open-world, because the game is actually quite linear, despite its attempt to be a big wide-open wasteland. When you’re not on a mission, you can travel from town to town, but they’re really just connected by a big path. It felt like they were trying to give the illusion of a big open environment, but everything is really just connected by a narrow line. It’s even more linear once you’re on a mission, and this is where some of Rage’s biggest issues start to show their ugly faces. There are invisible walls EVERYWHERE, and with no mini-map to speak of, and usually no indication of what you’re supposed to do, it can get very confusing figuring out what locaton the game is trying to point you towards. We both often found ourselves wondering where the hell we were supposed to go. This became quite frustrating by the end of this 10-hour adventure.
With all the shooters coming out today, we were disappointed by ID software’s inability to differentiate itself. They simply refused to take a bold risk and try something new. It doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, but it doesn’t do anything that great either.
Overall Score: 75
Mediocrity is the best way to describe Rage. There is nothing horribly wrong with the game, aside from a lackluster story, but it fails to bring anything new to the table. Its gameplay still work fine, but it’s nothing revolutionary.
Genre Score (First-Person Shooter): 80
Rage’s shooting mechanics are solid, guns are great and wingsticks are awesome. Enemy AI and animations are impressive, and make for some genuinely challenging encounters that are varied enough to keep you entertained from fight to fight. It looks beautiful, the combat is fun, but its lack of a real story and stale setting make this just another first-person shooter.