You Don’t Want to See Me Angry – A RAGE Review
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
I have Rage. It’s fun, but sometimes I have Rage issues. I usually keep my Rage contained in a box and put it on a shelf so as to not bother anyone. I am of course talking about RAGE, developed by the legendary id Software for PS3, Xbox, and PC. id was one of the pioneers of the first person genre for PC, with games such as Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein. Over the years though, other studios have taken the first person genre above and beyond what anyone could have dreamed of in the late ‘80s. Is id’s new IP, RAGE, a return to prominence or will it leave you RAGE-quitting?
The post-apocalyptic, desert world of RAGE, where guns do the talking and supplies are scarce, is one we’ve seen before tons of times, but dammit, it’s still interesting. id puts in enough new and appealing elements to keep players both involved in the game and interested in the unfolding action. Things like mutants and car races bring the world to life; for example, the mutants are more human than Fallout’s super mutants, but just as scary, and the simplicity of adding interactivity to the car races makes them way more engaging than Mad Max. So, even though id has compiled a world that already exists in other games, they do enough to it to make it feel fresh. If you’re a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, then RAGE has got your fix. What the world asks you to do however can be boring as hell.
The mission structure in RAGE is extremely poorly designed. A great majority of the missions consists of you going from point A to point B to either pick-up or deliver something. Then you have to drive all the way back to point A to tell the dude you just finished the mission. They’re just fetch quests spliced together with constant backtracking. It becomes incredibly tedious after a while, especially since every time you see a character they have a speech they spew out, and you can’t tell them you finished the mission until they finish – at which point they’ll have another speech about the mission! I was raging pretty hard after a while.
That being said, the missions where you get to participate in some action and actually shoot dudes in the face are awesome! The gun combat feels visceral and brutal – I felt like I was there in the midst of it all, with each gunshot ringing in my gut as I played. When you take aim in the game, you look right down the sights of your gun– an enjoyable feature for me as I liked the realism of looking down the iron sights, but some may prefer to have a little extra help with an aim reticule on screen. The great feeling of the guns is enhanced by the glorious sound design; id has really pushed their sound effects to the limit on this game and it’s great. The fluid character animations also add to the overall fun experience of the combat in RAGE. Walking is not overly shaky, and turning and strafing are a breeze.
Guns are not the only way to do damage in the world though. The game features a heavy focus on car combat, as mentioned above. Driving in the game is very noticeably separated from the first-person action. There are driving sections in RAGE and then there are walking sections – they don’t really blend; you can’t seamlessly jump from your car to land without a small break in the action (usually a quick black screen). I had no real qualm with this design choice, because it allows id to focus on making the separate aspects perfect. The driving is fun and arcade-like which makes it very easy to pick up. Racing in the game is a definite treat and, because of this, I found myself racing all the time. In-vehicle combat is also intuitive; it’s a matter of pointing and shooting. It felt very similar to the Twisted Metal series minus the pick-ups.
The graphics in RAGE are hit or miss. While the characters look animated and alive, the environment is a texture-less blob half of the time; couple that with the insane amount of texture pop-ins and you have a game that completely lacks detail and doesn’t look great overall – and I’m not even talking about the PC version (that has a whole mess of other graphical issues). I guess id simply decided to focus more on the main things graphically, such as clothes, faces, and other obvious items. However, for those of us who enjoy a game in its entirety, we notice that tire on the side of the road with virtually no texture on the model, and it can really ruin the whole game. It’s a shame that parts of the world look so great and others are just blocks of colour.
Overall, RAGE is a satisfying game. It has great combat both in-car and on-foot, and has a very interesting setting. The game is held back, however, by its terrible mission design and graphical hiccups. I wouldn’t say that those things make the game bad – it’s just something you’ll have to get used to while playing. RAGE certainly brings id Software back into the collective consciousness of the gaming public, and hopefully they can capitalize upon this. If RAGE is a vision of what’s to come, then I’m excited, given a couple of tweaks.
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