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Rage Review
Posted on October 21, 2011 by Oscar Gonzalez

Id Software is kind of an enigma in the world of gaming.   Here is a company that came out of nowhere to take over gaming for most of the 90s with Wollfenstein, Quake and Doom, and since then they have been fairly quiet.  Aside from Doom 3 and working with other companies on spin-offs of their most well-known games, Id has been keeping a fairly low profile.  Those who’ve read up on Id know that when they do keep quiet, it’s usually because John Carmack is trying to push the envelope when it comes to graphics.  That and more can be said for their newest game, Rage.

IT'S ALL THE RAGE

A Pretty Wasteland - Rarely has a wasteland looked as good as it does in Rage.  Fallout 3 and Borderlands have their version of a Wasteland, but Rage easily surpasses them in every sense.  The first thing I did when I found myself in the wastleland was to take a look at  everything.  I even took a minute to check out the sky which seemed so spot on, up until the point that I noticed the clouds didn’t move.   Character models have a lot of style to them using an interesting blend of Mad Max and steampunk with a dash of Cowboy Bebop.  One aspect that was very striking to me was the facial animations of each character.  When I reviewed LA Noire, I was simply amazed at how incredible the faces looked in the game, and Rage is right up there with it.   With everything looking so incredible in the game, I’m a little upset that there was a lot of disappearing of items and certain enemies into thin air.  After a major gun battle, it’s satisfying to see a floor full of dead bodies.

That’s One Smart Bastard - Enemies in a FPS game almost always are complete idiots.  They’ll run right at you, and if they use cover, they really suck at it.  That’s not the case with Rage.    There are enemies that run at you, but they’re actually quite agile.   They can jump right over you and dodge your attacks as they bumrush you, and just to mess with you even more, these enemies will typically have a throwing weapon to fling at you, and hat’s just the guys with the melee weapons.  Then there are the bad guys with ranged weapons who will utilize cover fairly well.  Not perfect, mind you, as I’ve seen some enemies stay in the cover stance, but are clearly not in cover.  They will, however, keep their distance and toss a few grenades at you.  After those enemies, at times you’ll comes across more “special” enemies who have some big firepower strapped to them like a minigun or able to throw out some sludge to blind you for a few seconds.  Where I was really shocked by the enemy A.I. was when you fight the heavy armored enemies called The Authority.  You won’t fight these guys often, but when you do, be prepared to change up your tactics.  It’s that changing of tactics on the fly that makes the A.I. a welcome challenge. 

 

Nice Arsenal - Throughout the game, weapons will be supplied to you in different ways. You cannot pick them up from dead enemies as they disappear into the pale moonlight as most real guns do.  There’s the standard pistol, shotgun, machine gun, assault rifle, rocket launcher, and sniper rifle that you would expect in a FPS.  To make those weapons a bit more interesting, id included different ammo for the weapons.  Think that pistol is too weak? Use some Fatboys ammo and the dozen shots it took to take down the enemy is now only 2-3.  Want more power out of your shotgun? Use the pop ammo that makes it the equivalent of a grenade launcher.  Then you have the crossbow that can be a stealth weapon with the regular bolts, or later on you can get electrified bolts that help whenever enemies are close to water. You can even try mind control bolts, which do just that to enemies. Your arsenal doesn’t stop there as you can be equipped with a variety of supplies to help.  Early on you get the wingsticks weapon that not only is silent, but can decapitate a baddie from a distance.  There are also turrets and bots you can use to help you through an area.  Some of these supplies are not found in stores, you have to find them or make them through recipes you find or are given. 

Raging With a Buddy - Co-op play is becoming a fairly standard and welcomed extra to any game these days.  The co-op missions have you and a group up to 4 make your way through several of the areas that you’ll play through the single player campaign.  While it may not seem exciting that you have to play through the same stages you already dominated through, there are some twists.  First off, these missions have you control different the characters that you met through the game. This enables to get some background on them as well as learn about the events that happened before the timeline you played through in the single player campaign.  Second, the areas are altered from what you’ll play in the single player campaign.  In one mission, you play through the “pilot episode” of Bash TV, a popular TV show that you have to compete in during the single player.  The difference is that since this a “pilot episode” a variety of things are wrong so someone that’s playing through it after going through the single player will find it entertaining. 

 

ENRAGING

Who Put Twisted Metal Into My Rage? - I simply don’t get it. Id Software practically created the FPS deathmatch with Doom LAN and revolutionized it with Quake 3, so why the hell is Rage’s multiplayer a wannabe Twisted Metal?  In Road Rage, you can go up against 3 other opponents in a few different modes that come down to collecting items or completing rally points as you take down other players.  Is it fun?  Nope.  It’s actually pretty dull.  You can modify your vehicle, do some upgrades, and eventually gain levels to get new vehicles, but it’s such a boring experience.  All I kept saying to myself was, why the hell am I not playing a FPS in multiplayer?  It’s not fun, it’s not interesting, and is not worth a second of your time.
 
All That World Without Much to Explore - As soon as you step into the world of Rage, you see this great landscape of beautiful wasteland.  It seems so huge and ominous, up until the point where you realize that there’s nothing to explore.  There are some nooks and crannies you can find throughout the world of Rage, but it’s such a downer.  You’re even given multiple vehicles to drive around in it, making it more painfully obvious how little there is to see in the world.  The lack of a big world to explore makes the game even more painful to play as trips from mission objectives to towns are so quick that you’ll spend almost as much time in the two loading screens as you will in the travel time.   Townspeople will have quests for you to complete that you would think would have you explore the world, yet, most of the quests will have you go back to areas you already cleared in the main story missions.
 
Can I Get a Headshot Please? - In later parts of the game, the enemies get substantially buffed up in their damage resistance.  Enemies start wearing armor that ramps up the amount of hits they can absorb along with helmets to prevent headshots.  This is an ideal way of ramping up the difficulty as you progress through the game.  The problem?  Even after you shoot off a helmet, the enemies are so buffed that the headshot is useless.  Many times I’ve had pinpoint headshots on enemies, and they simply do not go down.  It’s simply aggravating that you’re so careful to take aim to drop an enemy as efficiently as possible, yet Id Software decided that later on in the game, headshots don’t mean shit. 
 
Plot? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Plot - For a large part of the game, the narrative is fairly common.  You’re a person without a name that can kick a surprising amount of ass that needs to help those that are at the mercy of bandits.  Many games use this same setup, but with Rage, there’s no real movement in the story.  Characters come and go with hardly an impact with the exception of the first character you meet, Dan Hagar, who’s voice by my new favorite actor, John Goodman (go see Red State to find out why he’s awesome).   You play a character that was put to sleep in an underground chamber called an Ark where you were put in cyro-sleep as an asteroid was making its way to Earth.  When you awaken, the Earth has changed, and apparently you’re the only one that can actually do something in this new land.  The story doesn’t really get going until later in the game.  Even then, it is still lacking any substance.  I would have loved to hear more about the world and people, but it seems that no one gave a rat’s ass about thoroughly explaining everything.  Hell, give me a few books to read on what’s been happening and I’d be willing to take that.
 
How About a Checkpoint Already? - I understand that Id Software is big on PC gaming.  Hell the guys practically revolutionized PC gaming on more than one occasion.  As a console gamer though, the autosave system is a standard feature that I enjoy.  It makes constant saving one less thing to worry about.  In Rage, there is no autosaving.  Now I have been around gaming for some time so the job of doing my own saves is not that much of a chore, but what infuriated me was that those times where I didn’t save and I ended up dying and having to start again from pretty far back.  Checkpoints are far off from one another that if you die during a mission, you don’t start back from the entrance, sometimes you have to go as far back as leaving the town.  That’s quite a while as the missions can be a good half-hour to an hour long without any checkpoints, making it a real pile of suck if you forget to manually save.
 
 
 
 

To me, Rage is one of those games that have promise as a series even though the first game is kind of rocky.  At about 10 hours of game time, the game can be easily beaten in a rental with a few more hours added on for co-op.  I think Id Software made some great strides technically, but they missed the mark on certain aspects of the game, that is, those things that make it more enriching to the player like a good story or a big world with lots to see and do.

 

*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*

 
Oscar Gonzalez - Editor-in-Chief og (@) original-gamer.com | all author's articles

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