From Commander Keen to Wolfenstein to Doom to Quake, id Software has tickled our digital fancies for twenty years. Rage marks id’s first release the under quickly growing publishing juggernaut Bethesda Softworks. Have they lost their touch? Or does id still have what it takes to innovate, and more importantly, to entertain?
Tossing aside corridor shooting, Rage plants gamers in the post apocalyptic future. Opening with a stunning, and oddly emotional introduction about an asteroid destroying humanity as we know it. But it doesn’t take Rage long quickly to shed the cold and somber tone and replace it with something flippant as Walter… I mean… John Goodman saves you from a painful death. You skip from town to town, taking on odd jobs and minor quests to better humanity… with your ever-growing supply of firearms and range weapons.
At this point, it seems Bethesda has the market cornered on futuristic wasteland scavenging. And while from a passing point of view, Rage does share a good number of similarities as Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, Rage even has a Fallout Easter Egg or two, Rage is a shooter at heart with RPG mechanics as its candy shell.
A cursory glance confirms that Rage is one of the most beautiful shooters on the market. We played most of our Rage experiences on the Xbox 360 with the game taking up a whopping 22GB worth of installation on our hard drives. With all that valuable disk real estate space occupied, we were absolutely dazzled by the environments and the character models. Though Rage takes place in a grim future, the designers truly painted with a digital canvas as each new environment is an homage to the full spectrum of colors. Finally, a developer gets it. The world is made up of color and not just brown, gray and dark brown.
But the PC version continues to be crippled with some wonky texture pop-in issues. There is still pop-in on the console versions if the camera is turned too quickly. It can get annoying if you start to look for it. We’re hoping for patches for all consoles and the PC in the near future. But otherwise, Rage is a delicious concoction of illicit substances for your eyeballs.
Gameplay-wise, Rage is a glorified game of “Gopher”… with guns, broken up with driving sequences with miniguns and rocket launchers. It’s a long string of fetch quest from colorful characters across the wasteland. The storyline can instantly be tossed aside, as it is a flimsy excuse to go from point A to B to Z to eradicate some less than savory characters.
The enemies are another one of Rage’s high points. They are all vicious, insane, and will stop at nothing to see you dead. Each will attack in new and interesting ways. Their attack patterns are fast, and varied as each mutant is practically a parkour master. They’ll recoil in pain depending on where you land your shots, which is, to say the least, impressive.
Ammunition can be on the short-ish side of supply. More can be found by cleverly searching in locked rooms using lock diggers you build yourself, or you can buy more on your next trip to town. The guns are mostly satisfying, however the assault rifle felt very underpowered. Health does regenerate, but it regenerates slower and slower every time, and you’re granted a finite number of self-defibrillation’s. The challenge ranges from a walk in the park to controller twistingly frustrating, but for the average gamer, we still recommend bumping up the difficulty a notch before you begin. When it all boils down, Rage feels like Doom cross bred with Fallout: New Vegas (with a light sprinkling of Borderlands), which seems 100% appropriate given the situation.
Fans of multiplayer may be a bit disappointed as there is no competitive online first person shooter element. Which is astounding considering the game’s pedigree. On the other hand, we have to salute Id for not simply jamming it into the package even if it didn’t fit. The multiplayer market is a bit full at the moment and in the next few weeks, it’s about to become even more crowded. We’re happy to see they put most of their efforts into the single player campaign.
However, there are some multiplayer competitions available in the form of car combat very similar to Twisted Metal, which will delight and entertain many for a long time. There are some cooperative mini missions that friends can take on together, adding some extra legs to the already lengthy single player campaign.
The end of the game left us unsatisfied, but with Rage, it’s all about the journey, not the destination. Words can’t describe how happy we are to see color return to the first person shooter market. And while some may be cranky about the loss of online multiplayer, we’re perfectly fine without it. However, that simple division is a heavy one amongst first person shooter fans.
For those who enjoyed classic shooters and pine for a more refined single-player experience, then we can definitely give Rage a recommendation. PC players, however, take warning. Read up on your local gaming boards to see if Rage has been patched enough to the point where pop-ins are more tolerable before buying. But Rage is something all FPS fans should at least give a try. It’s pulling the first person shooter market into a slightly different direction. Overall, It’s no masterpiece. But the visuals are too pretty, the voice acting is too good, and the shooting is too satisfying to simply let it pass you by.
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Available on: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Developed by: id Software
Published by: Bethesda Softworks
Release date: October 4, 2011
EG Score: 4 out of 5 | “Worth Buying / Worth Trying ”