Ever the innovator, id Software has crafted together a lavishing looking shooter that is both fun and best of all, smooth in performance to play. I loved Battlefield 3 and the wonderful graphics the game came equipped with, but I was never really hooked on how the game’s combat performed. It felt stiff, clunky, seemingly weighed down by the in-numerous texture files my Xbox had to forcefully plow through.
Rage repeats in graphical fidelity, but offers a smooth and visceral combat experience. Built using id Tech 5 engine, Rage is one of the best looking games ever made, boasting a marvelous artistic art style and stunning character animation performance. So much detail was thrown into Rage that it is hard not to pause and stare breathlessly across the vast Wasteland that was once your home, now outlined with rocky canyon walls and littered with the remnants of humanity.
Enjoying the beautiful world Rage has to offer is easy. The hard part is caring about it. The story is very mild, elementary stuff at best when compared to some of the other stellar shooters in the industry. An asteroid has struck Earth sometime in the future, nearly wiping out all of humanity as you know it. You are an Ark soldier, one of the many buried underground in Ark chambers across the world.
When you first emerge from your emerge from your Ark, you take a moment to adjust your eyes to overwhelmingly bright sun and bask in the pretty scenery painted out before you. Then everything quickly goes to hell when you are abruptly attacked, then miraculously saved by another human. And this is where your story begins.
The man who has just rescued you goes by the name of Dan and quickly relays to you what has happened during your 106 year slumber. The government’s Ark plan has failed and a new seat of power has taken grip over the land known as the Authority. He also tells you that they want you dead. Any Ark survivor that isn’t of use to the Authority is later disposed of.
Without spoiling too much of the meager plot, the rest of the game sees you helping out the inhabitants of the Wasteland fighting bandits, racing cars, and working with the Resistance in their fight against the Authority. What really hurts the game the most is how short the game actually is, and how abrupt the conclusion is. One complete play-through on a normal difficulty setting can be accomplished in under 10 hours, all side and main quests fulfilled.
Thankfully, the little time that you do spend in Rage is fun. The game is a shooter at its core and that’s where it excels the most. Weapons in Rage are powerful. Enemies will react to each shot fired into them. A shot to the chest will send them fumbling backward. A bullet to the foot will cause them to stumble and fall. Enemy armor will chip away when damaged. Every shot you fire feels like it accounted for something rather than five bullets kills him and 20 for the boss.
And as you progress through the game, combat encounters will increase in difficulty, forcing you to craft better guns and ammo to keep up with the game. Other nifty gadgets will also be used against you in the forms of auto turrets, mechanical spiders armed with a machine gun, or even RC cars strapped with TNT. Every fight may play out a little differently, especially since the AI isn’t dumb either. Your enemies will work together, calling out your place and communicating with each other to do special flank maneuvers and systematic retreats. You must be prepared to constantly change your strategy on the fly in every encounter. You can’t just run into a fight guns blazing or you will die.
The game smartly mixes up the combat as well by pitting you against multiple different foes in almost every fight. Mutants will charge you on sight, bandits and infantry Authority troops will take cover and systematically try to kill you. Armored bandits and Authority men will force you to break out the heavy guns, else you’ll need to shoot and retreat until you finally take the foe down. Boss fights also intertwine into the action as well on occasion, giving that much-needed extra jolt of fun here and there as you try to come up with a plan on the fly about how your going to take him down.
There are nice breaks in the action though when you are traveling through the various towns and settlements spread out across the Wasteland where you can visit vendors for more supplies about your ammo count, vehicle and weapon repairs and upgrades, crafting supplies, etc. There are also a few nifty mini-games to be played such as a neat trading card game that requires you to go out and explore for more rare cards that can be found on bandits.
Rage’s multiplayer mode however is laughable at best and gets old very quick. At first, racing and battling cars may seem like fun, but it definitely does not have any lasting appeal. Nor do the dinky cooperative missions the game has to offer either.
Rage brings fun combat and gorgeous graphics to the table, but that is nothing we haven’t seen before. Thanks to a short and mediocre plot line that does little to grasp any real attention from the player at all, Rage fails to differentiate itself from the rest of the imploded shooter market. A poorly constructed multiplayer component definitely doesn’t help either. If you are looking for a game to hold you over for the next few weeks, or even months, Rage is not the game before. But, if you are looking for some short, action-oriented fun, then this game is the perfect quick fix for anyone of the sort.