RAGE? More Like: MEH.
For various reasons, I ended up getting to play this game for free and so I really should have a better viewpoint on it from that alone, but I can't get past how utterly dull and pointless this game really ended up being.
I immediately started having misgivings when the fucking thing was 3-discs and a 22+ gig install on my XBOX hard drive. The last game for me that was this way was L.A. Noire and I ended up hating that game. So RAGE is already on my shit list and I haven't even pressed start. Realizing that I was being prejudiced, I simply started the game anyway and let it do it's thing.
So there's an opening cutscene of an asteroid hitting the planet and what one can only assume is our hero being put into or brought out of some kind of stasis. That's it. Of the details about how the world got the way it is, none are actually in the game. But you can read about it online or in the booklet! You are then ejected from your stasis pod into your ARK which consists of a very small room with 6 stasis pods. Clearly your pod-mates did not survive and are corpses in various states of decay. Maybe it's me and my preconceived notions, but the term 'ARK' has, to me, always implied something with more space.
Once the door pops open and you are allowed to leave the ARK, there's the obligatory blinding-light-until-your-eyes-adjust sequence and then you are given your first glimpse of The Wasteland. This reminded me so much of the Vault emergence from Fallout 3 it's not even funny. And then, looking around, my initial reaction is that the immediate landscape looks just like Megaton, the first settlement you come across in Fallout 3. Knowing that RAGE is by the same publisher is not filling me with confidence and I become even more wary as I find a Vault Boy Bobblehead as a pick-up item.
Anyway, little to no explanation of anything is given before you're attacked by mutants and saved by Dan Hagar (voiced by John Goodman, nice!) who then tells you that not much will be explained. He drives you back to his hideout and immediately starts giving you tasks to complete. As you might've already guessed, missions consist of drive here, fetch/drop off this, kill or destroy that. Not much to complain about there, really, it's what I was expecting. But as I explored Dan's little settlement, that sneaking trepidation began to come back.
While the graphics and textures are amazing and the game looks great, especially at 60fps, it still had that feeling of Doom3 where it felt like most of the processing power was going into the details of the backgrounds. It is all super high-detail, but you can interact with very little of it. NPC's aren't much better as they come in that rooted-to-the-same-spot variety so they can have their own unique, fidgety animations and essentially are also part of the scenery. One character in particular, Dan's brother Halek the storekeeper I found unnerving. His slit-eyed stare and mutton chops combined with his overall jovial nature made him very irritating. In fact, the gregarious nature of most of the psuedo-cartoon inhabitants of the Wasteland seems incongruous with the whole "RAGE" theme...
Then it's time to get in your vehicle and go do some missions! And boy, this is where the game really starts to remind one of Borderlands. In fact, they are so similar that the only real distinction seems to be the art-style of the graphics and textures. I'm convinced this is a major reason that this game feels boring to me - I've already played it before. Granted RAGE has a much less diverse arsenal than Borderlands, but the general spirits of each game are twins. The shooting is perfectly competent, however, as one would expect from id, even if the guns themselves are a little uninspired. Also, there comes a point at which some of your weapons become useless, but there is not an option to sell them. Luckily there doesn't seem to be the problem of having enough slots for your weapons as it was with Borderlands.
I will admit that RAGE did add a couple of cool things to the mix, the foremost of which is the defibrillator mini-game that initiates when your health is depleted. If you can click the triggers in time, you'll spring back to life with a rush of electricity that fries any nearby assailants. A very nice touch. As are the mind-control arrows that allow you take control of an enemy, steer him into his friends and detonate him. Good times. But these little touches were not enough to stem my growing ennui toward the game...
RAGE is touted as an 'open-world' game but it is far from it. While you can come and go as you please, there is very little to come from or to go to. The Wasteland driving seems like it's open, but you quickly discover that even roads that branch off from the one you're currently on will lead back to it eventually. Actually, there isn't even a world map - at no time can you ever see the Wasteland as a whole. I suspect this is to get around the fact that game isn't all that big... When in the Wasteland, you get a rudimentary mini-map in the upper right corner showing you the general area, but that's it. And you get no map at all in towns. I got stuck for awhile because I couldn't find "The Wellmaster" who turned out to be in a building that wasn't open when I initially arrived at Wellspring, and since there is no map or an indicator of your objective, I wandered around the town and the Wasteland looking for direction. Luckily, there was a YouTube vid I found that pointed me to the right building in Wellspring.
But the damage had already been done.
I wasn't really enjoying the game to begin with and then to have to resort to consulting outside material just to find my way to the next quest which was, essentially, right next to me, was ridiculous. I had already pretty much decided to abandon the racing unless I was forced. I've utterly ignored the side-quests and, at this point, am not sure I care to finish even the main quest. I've also heard the 'ending' is a huge let-down, so I'm really not sure what my incentive is supposed to be: To get to the end of the non-existent plot and story? Yawn. To play again on a harder setting? No thanks.
In essence, the game isn't complete shit, it's a very competent FPS, it's just not very interesting and smacks of id looking at Borderlands and saying "Hey, we can make that game, too!"
And so they did...