Rage: Against the dying of the, well, everything

October 20, 2011

To die-hard FPS fanatics, id software is a name everyone can agree upon helped revolutionize the genre through such games as Doom and Quake. Now, after a short hiatus, they are back with Rage, a game that attempts to up the ante again in an extremely competitive arena. With all the media surrounding the company and the game itself, only one question remains: does it live up to all the hype?

The Earth you know is gone. As an Ark survivor, you are awakened from your slumber to find the shell of a world you once knew, where a new battle for survival rages on. Between the bandit gangs the rampant mutants and the presence of the Authority life is hard for the struggling settlers just trying to stay alive. Helping the locals you find that all is not what it seems, and the presence of the Authority is more ominous than the mutants roaming the wilds.

Rage is, at its core, a shooter that eschews telling a detailed story in favor of focusing on action, atmosphere and stunning environments. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in details: vistas are vast and beautiful, character models are some of the most lifelike and rich and enemy AI and response is some of the most ingenious yet. The trade-off? It’s an open-world game that lacks a big world to explore and reuses dungeons simply because it can.

The gunplay is some of the tightest around, as you would hope to see from id, but it is the enemy responses that nail the fighting. Enemies are sometimes bounding menaces that are hard to get in your sights, while others react appropriately to getting hit, limping and favoring sides as well as running from grenades. Limited guns are available through the game as you receive them at critical moments, but it is the addition of creative ammunition that enables you to vary how you approach each fight. And while you will favor certain ammo types for specific enemies, it gives enough variation for each dungeon to be fun to clear as you plow through mutants, bandits and Authority figures.

There is no experience gained through the game. The main driving factor is money, which you use to buy more bullets, gun upgrades and engineering items, allowing you to make more interesting ways of killing your enemies as you explore the world. The world is beautiful and full of detail, yet it is constrained at the same time. Many times you drive between a quest hub and a dungeon, missing many of the nuances the game has to offer. Inside the linear dungeons, more details are to be found which are awe-inspiring and help sell this land, but unfortunately these areas are reused to expand the game time with side quests. Luckily, there is enough variation in quests (including sniper missions) that occur outside the main story to make it worthwhile to poke around.

One of the major feats of Rage is including car combat and races within the hub zones. The car mechanics are forgiving and loose, but they are fun as they provide yet another distraction in a straightforward game. It is so much fun, in fact, that id chose to use this for its multiplayer rather than focusing on shooting. Luckily they scratched the shooter itch as well by including cooperative play, as you and a friend work your way through a familiar level with increased enemies to challenge the both of you. Unfortunately your guns are limited to those given, as you can’t bring in just any weapon.

Rage is an interesting amalgamation. On one hand, it is a technically beautiful game with tight controls, fun gameplay and a polish other games would envy. On the other, it trades game time for reused dungeons and story. Ultimately, Rage succeeds in making a game you want to play despite the repetition.

Pros: Stunning visuals, tight shooting and fun vehicle combat/racing
Cons: Slightly repetitive, so-so story

Score: 4/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.