Most gamers have a profound sense of respect for id Software since it is this Texan game development studio that popularized and nurtured the first person shooter genre with iconic games like Doom, Quake and Wolfenstein. After Doom 3 in 2004, id has been working hard on returning to their first person roots with RAGE, a shooter that’s been nearly seven years in the making. Is it worth the wait? Will it cement id once again as the undisputed kings of this genre? Read on to find out.
As you boot RAGE up for the first time, comparisons with games like Fallout 3 and Borderlands that share similar post-apocalyptic scenarios will be inevitable. However RAGE is very much a linear fare that merely presents the illusion of being an open world game. In the near future, an asteroid the size of Texas (lol?) crashes against the planet, tearing it to shreds. While most of humanity perished in this calamity, a select few were sent into a cryogenic state so they could emerge from this incident and start rebuilding society. You are one such survivor but instead of waking up in the company of your frozen friends, you find out that everyone you knew is dead.
In the face.... in the FAAAACE
As soon as you leave your Ark, you get attacked by a mutant within seconds firmly establishing the fact that the brown stuff has hit the fan and in case you didn’t get the euphemism, this means the Wasteland is a highly dangerous place. You get rescued by a good Samaritan only to learn that he had an ulterior motive in helping you out since you can handle yourself with a weapon. From then on begins nearly ten hours of fetch quests that culminate in one of the most abrupt video game endings ever. Yes, a riveting plot is definitely not one of RAGE’s strong points.
RAGE’s game world is divided into various hubs from where you pick up quests, sell loot, upgrade weapons and so on. While this sort of mission structure will be familiar to anyone who’s played an RPG, it gets real annoying when you’re made to go back to the same areas over and over again. What’s worse is that I can never take on say five or ten quests, head into the Wasteland, complete them all and return. No, I have to take on one, finish it, head back and only then can I pick up the other one. Thankfully the game sports a quick travel mechanic so travelling back to base isn’t a problem. If you’re the more adventurous kind, you could drive your buggy around the Wasteland taking on bandits but like I said earlier, this isn’t an RPG nor is it an open world game so don’t go expecting dynamic events to kick in.
Vehicular combat is surprisingly quite enjoyable as it takes its cues from games like Mario Kart or Blur. You can strap on a bunch of weapons like rockets, mini-guns and mines to your ride so taking out the opposition is never really a problem. If you’re the competitive kind, you can also indulge in a bit of racing through some of the hubs as well. Win races and you could unlock cooler parts for your ride but since racing is really not all that important in the game, there’s little motivation to spruce your ride up. And don’t get attached to one car because certain missions will require you to ditch in favour of a tougher set of wheels.
But enough about racing. This being an id game, shooting is obviously the focal point of your experience and in that respect, RAGE delivers. Weapon design is top notch and every weapon right from your pistol to your rocket launcher packs a mean punch thanks to some killer sound effects. Every weapon can use two to three different types of ammo so planning your strategy is a lot of fun as the right kind of ammo can really turn the tides of battle in your favour. Planning your attack in RAGE is essential as the game sports a healthy amount of enemy variety with each faction in the Wasteland exhibiting different traits or weaknesses. Mutants prefer melee attacks and will charge at you with all they have making a deployed turret an asset in such a situation. Gearheads on the other hand are armoured to the teeth and can withstand a ton of damage. Emptying an entire clip into them may not even dent their health but one explosive bolt to the head and it’s lights out forever.
This method of approaching different enemy types in different ways is what keeps gameplay fresh throughout the game’s ten hour campaign. Special mention has got to be given to enemy animations and bullet hit detection that I personally feel is top notch. Shoot an enemy with a pistol in different parts of his body and he’ll react differently every time. Enemies also never rush at you in a straight line. They take cover, roll and duck to make your life tough.
Have you lost your mind?
At various vendors spread out through the game world, you can pick up schematics of rare ammunition allowing you to craft your very own ammo. Of course you’ll need to fulfil the conditions to do so and this is where the game’s Crafting system comes in (don’t worry; it’s not as complicated as it sounds). Simply find/buy all the necessary ingredients and you can create exploding bolts with the press of a button. You’ll also find a lot of crap lying around the game world so make sure you pick everything up since there’s no limit to your inventory system. Use what you need and sell the rest to the vendors. It’s a rather simplified take on mechanics you’ve seen in most RPGs and it works rather well here.
Unfortunately the game lacks any sort of real character or weapon customization and whatever exists is highly restricted. I mean why can’t I deck out or customize my sniper or rocket launcher. Why can I only reduce recoil on my assault rifle? Why can’t I strap a red dot sight on it? Such choices really strike me as odd because they aren’t too tough to implement and go a long way in personalizing the game for players.
Why hello thar!
For some reason id decided not to add in conventional competitive multiplayer into the equation and considering their experience in this field, I find this umm... stupid. Instead what you do get is a co-operative mode called Legends of the Wastelands. These are standalone missions undertaken by two players that tie into certain parts of the single player campaign. It’s fun sure, but no substitute for full fledged versus multiplayer. On the competitive front, you have a bunch of vehicular combat modes but it seems no one’s playing the game online. I tried finding a game over a period of time but failed to do so.
Much has been said about the id Tech5 engine and it looks absolutely stunning in motion as long as you have the right hardware. At launch, the game was unplayable on machines that had ATI and AMD hardware but id issued a patch to rectify this in a few days. While that patch worked for many, it made the game unplayable for many more. Even on consoles, I’ve heard stories of low frame rates, screen tearing and delayed texture loading. Sloppy stuff indeed.
Game can look photo-realistic at times
But once you iron out the kinks, the game looks magnificent and id’s take on the Wasteland is a sight for sore eyes. The game’s art style really kicks in half way through the game and some of the levels you visit during this second half will have you begging for more. Unfortunately things aren’t that pretty indoors. You’ll witness horrible low resolution textures that are a far cry from the breath taking outdoors. In fact pretty much every indoor level was an eye sore in contrast to the well designed Wasteland. All said and done, I’d still recommend the PC version above all else because it definitely looks the best.
It’s ironic but even after being in development for seven years, RAGE feels like a rushed product. The engine and tech at their disposal is amazing but what’s the use when that tech makes a game unplayable for so many people? While gunplay is solid, mission structure feels repetitive and disjointed and just as you start enjoying the game, it ends abruptly. The game has flashes of brilliance but for some reason id can’t maintain that same level of consistency throughout the campaign. If you keep your expectations in check and are packing the right hardware, RAGE is an enjoyable shooter; it’s just not worth the seven year wait.
Motherboard: Intel DP67BG Extreme Desktop series
Processor: Intel Core i7 - 2600K @3.40 GHZ
Graphic Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590
Ram: Corsair Vengeance 4GB DD3 @ 1600 MHZ X2
Power Supply: Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200W
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