Fun as an apocalypse
I finished Rage by id Software over the weekend and it was a pretty enjoyable experience overall. Going into the game without knowing much about it besides knowing that it is a shooter of some sort is probably the best way to get into it. Having known the general idea of the story and having a few minor preconceived notions in my head of what I hoped the game would be definitely let me enjoy the game more. I say this not to make people hesitant to play it, but because I think it is important to understand just what the game is before you go and spend some hard-earned cash on it.
This is an id Software game through and through, there's even plenty of easter eggs strewn about the game to provide an extra level of nostalgia, many of which end up being really awesome to see as an id fan. Much like the classics Quake and Doom before it, Rage is a fantastic shooter. Without knowledge of id's previous classics, it would be easy for anyone who saw any coverage of Rage before it came out to think that it is something more than it is. The preconceived notions that I held about Rage consisted of ideas that I would be coming across as a more role-playing focused game than the final product actually is. These elements do exists though, from taking on quests in towns to crafting ammo and other items, but they certain don't take up a majority of play-time throughout. This is to Rage's benefit however, because the core gun-play is fantastic and has actually caused me to realize that I want to play more shooters that simply try to be fun. A standard shooter shouldn't be incredibly exciting to anyone these days, so the extra elements of Rage are needed to enhance the game and for the most part they do. All the weapons that you get throughout the game end up for the most part being standard fare, but all are great. I always love when a game has a good revolver and the main pistol you start out with did not disappoint throughout the game. The revolver ended up being the weapon I probably used the most due to the fact that the ammo you can craft for it ends up making it an immensely powerful tool even against the toughest of enemies. Another favorite ended up being the crossbow because of the varied ammo that can be used with it, from mind control arrows to arrows that have dynamite attached. One weapon that you get near the end of the game can be loaded with ammo that makes it into a big fucking throwback to Doom. Throughout the game an ATV and many different buggie/go-kart type vehicles are used to take you from mission to mission, as well as to race if you so choose to make your vehicle better. For the most part these sections are enjoyable and the vehicular combat is well implemented but the vehicle parts are not the best part of the game by a long shot. You are able to get a few different weapons for your vehicles and there are missions that give you more cash for killing bandits in your vehicle but for the most part these parts are easily avoided. This is a good thing, because as stated before the gun-play is what is important in Rage and getting too distracted from the fun it provides would be a shame.
Story-wise, Rage does not offer up anything transcendental for shooters, or games for that matter. You play as a space-marine type who awakens in a vault several years after a comet crashes into the planet with a mission from the outset to bring the world back to the way it once was. This mission means trying to find and open up all the other vaults that will contain the people who would also be entrusted with this mission. The story does not contain many twists and turns, but it does provide setup for fighting some varied and somewhat interesting enemies. While the AI for the most part isn't fantastic, the enemies react to your character and the bullets you embed into their bodies in some of the most interesting ways you will see in any game today. This is due to the beautiful animation that id decided to invest copious amounts of time in, and I say it paid off. Some enemies will climb all over the stages dodging your bullets while you try to shoot them, which doesn't sound very impressive, but when an enemy suddenly jumps onto a wall then swings onto a pipe above to get on the other side of your character while you are trying to get a shot off, it certainly comes off as very impressive indeed. This game is certainly full of awesome animation, voice-acting and overall just amazing scenery. I played the PC version, which has had some issues and in fact my game did not perform to the best that it probably could have due to video drivers I was having for the majority of the time I played, but the game still looked amazing due to the aforementioned animations and scenery.
If you are looking for a truly beautiful and fun shooter, then Rage is definitely your game. It definitely felt like the kind of game I can get behind, but not without issues. Rage is not a long game by any means either, which you can either take as a good or bad thing, but I finished it in around a solid 10-11 hour play-through. I don't think Rage will come across as a truly astounding game to anyone in this day and age, but for the fun that was had I think it is definitely a great game in its own right. I did not get into the multi-player vehicle combat stuff any but you can see my thoughts on that stuff generally above. Nor did I get into the co-op missions, but in my experience co-op will likely only add to the fun that can be had from the game.