key review info
- Game: Rage
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Gamepad support: Yes
- Reviewed on:
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They brought us the Wolfenstein 3D, they brought us Doom and most importantly they brought us Quake. Now the legendary id Software returns with a game and an engine that will "blow your mind". Graphics never seen before in an open world shooter, mixed with awesome racing and post-apocalyptic scenery will allegedly make Rage a candidate for the game of the year title.
The game takes the best from lots of other titles like Fallout (the open-space Wasteland), Borderlands (character graphics) and even Metro (the Subway city) and combines them using the brand new idTech 5 graphical engine.
Rage has a more complex story then what id Software has used on shooters so far. Even if it lacks originality, it is still a story fit for a 2011 game.
You wake up in a world partially ravaged by the 2029 Apophis asteroid, as one of the Ark survivors. The Ark was an ambitious world-wide project meant to assure continuity of the human race even after the impact of the devastating asteroid.
Scientists and other important people were brought together and induced into a cryogenic sleep and locked in Ark pods. The pods were then safely hidden underground to wait the Ark's awakening. Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan and you wake up with no recollection of who or where you are.
Attacked by strange looking bandits you’re saved by Dan Hagar and so the quest begins. While helping various Wasteland settlements you’re pitted against a wide variety of opponents: bandit clans, mutants and the one that all of them fear: the Authority.
Unfortunately, except for the curiosity factor, you are not given any other story motivating arguments as to why you’re helping all these people. The RPG part of the game has really deep roots in the story and completing quest seems to be your only motivation to advance.
At its core, Rage continues the shooter heritage of id Software's big FPS titles like Doom and Quake. Even if blasting enemies to pieces is your main job, Rage is also filled with racing, gambling, card games and imbued with RPG elements. All of these take a lot of your time so boredom is not an issue.
Fighting and blowing up enemies to bits and pieces remains the player's full time job, so id Software made this part of the game truly amazing. Even if I would have enjoyed more open-air combat scenes like Fallout provides, the developer decided to wage wars inside the settlements scattered around the Wasteland. This can become a bit repetitive, especially towards the end when all the rooms start to look the same. This regular pattern is amplified by the fact that some locations have to be visited twice.
The artificial intelligence component had a great impact on me, a positive one that is. The attack pattern differs from one opponent to another so you never know what's coming. They retreat when overpowered and perform frontal attacks when in great numbers. They change their cover location quite often and melee attackers will jump on walls or hang from the ceiling to make aiming harder. Sneaking behind opponents can be done, but let's be honest: this is no Deus Ex game and besides, why sneak up when unloading your powerful weapons is so much fun?
Weapons are realistic and can be fitted with custom ammo. For example a pistol has the Fatboy ammo that works very well even against armored opponents, while the crossbow can receive a certain mind-controlling dart that will take control of an enemy's body. The weapons are the same as in the wide majority of the shooters: pistol, shotgun, assault, rifle, rocket launcher, sniper rifle, etc. with lots of visual detail and a post-apocalyptic theme, of course.
As far as racing is concerned, this is where the idTech 5 engine shows his fangs and gives us a taste of its awesome power. If you ask me, Rage could have been a combat racing game and it still would have provided a great experience. Controlling the cars is easy and the mounted machinegun, missile launcher or pulse cannon are just the spices needed to complete this gaming masterpiece.
Bosses will require patience rather than skill to defeat. The predictive attacks are far less demanding than regular fights. Also, the size of creatures you have to defeat has been ridiculously increased. More challenging and a lot more fun are the mini-bosses that wear extra armor or have special attacks.
Mini-games are a fun way to earn money and to make the gameplay more enjoyable. Besides racing, the job board and the Mutant TV shows, you'll get a Magic: The Gathering resembling card game, which will have you looking around for extra collectible cards. There is also a fun hologram game that can turn into a cash cow, so make sure you don't miss out.
The inventory system is a cool RPG addition to the game. Here you can use recipes to create different items, some of them crucial in your quest. From here, you can also select the current mission, or predefine the quick weapon change system. Make sure you don't keep useless stuff like cans and cat food in your inventory. They can be easily turned into money at your local NPC. And since we're in the NPC area, I must point out the lack of expression and their lack of attitude, although the level of detail is great.
The end comes really fast, a lot faster than I expected, and, to my disappointment, the epic battle available in any respectable shooter, the final boss fight that would make you feel like you've accomplished something by spending all those hours, is missing. Yes, the end is so abrupt it left a bitter taste that only a DLC could take out.
Video and Audio
Rage's PC version was a controversial one, due to the graphic issues that both AMD and NVIDIA users have encountered. Several beta drivers and a 1GB patch were released to help the gamers play the title with decent graphics. Various voices stated that the PC problems appeared as the game was ported from the consoles.
With this in mind, I decided to try the Xbox 360 version, with the game installed on the local hard drive to prevent future graphics issues. Imagine my surprise when I've noticed that the game still has texture loading problems. I must admit that, by comparison with the PC version, the loading glitches are almost unnoticeable, but those who expect a flawless visual experience will be disappointed. There are also a few minor video bugs that await the next patch.
Rage uses the new idTech 5 engine, which makes it look more than impressive. From the detailed interiors, to the realistic weapons and the partially destroyed world, they all allow the player to really emerge in the game and be one with the Ark's survivor.
The first time I surfaced from the Ark's cryo-pod and took a look at the surroundings I said: the Mojave wasteland really looks amazing now. But besides the post-apocalyptic look, Rage has almost nothing in common with Fallout. This is unfortunate, as a combination of Fallout and Rage would make for an outstanding game.
I really enjoyed how hitting opponents in the leg would make them limp, or how a headshot would splatter the brains on a nearby wall and even how a well-placed shotgun blast blows away a skinny mutant's body to the other end of a room. The way that fire engulfs a car after taking too much damage, how you can smash bandit wooden towers in the Wasteland, and the slow motion scene after you've eliminated a bandit threat are really amazing things to watch.
The sounds are a treat. Starting with weapons, continuing with engine noises and finishing with voice acting, they will enhance the post-apocalyptic feel of the game, making the gameplay really enjoyable.
Bottom line, Rage is a must-have, must-play game. Many voices have stated that, due to the brief gameplay time, it’s just a demo flaunting id Software's new graphical engine. The game is shorter than expected, indeed, but I assure you, Rage is no demo.
Looks are stunning and both the FPS and the car fights are a lot of fun. The complex AI and the huge open world make sure you don't get bored.
In my opinion, Rage is a worthy successor of the famous Doom and Quake masterpieces. Even if it does not qualify as the game of the year, it's definitely in the top five. Overall, Rage is the proof that id Software still has a card to play in the ever-changing world of gaming.