PC Rage Review
Rage is a first person shooter game which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, a world similar to the likes of Fallout, Metro 2033 etc. You play as an unknown protagonist with almost no background knowledge or information about your past except that you are an Ark survivor. The Ark is basically a movement which took significant people and froze them underground so as to rebuild a new world. You being a survivor merit yourself with special attention from everyone, and that of course place you on course of an adventure and quest to help save the world.
The story is average at best. The whole idea about the creation of a new world isn’t that new or unique. Rage doesn’t do much that sets itself apart from the norm. Within this world that the game takes place, you have several different groups of people. They are mainly the Authority, the Resistance and various other bandit groups. Of course you have the other normal people that make up the population of the world. What the Authority is trying to do is to create an “ideal” world as defined by the Authority leader named General Martin Cross. This ideal world doesn’t benefit anyone except Cross himself, and can you guess what you’re supposed to do? Stop him. Simple. In order to do so, you come in contact with a rebel group called the Resistance. Together with them, you join hands to stop the evil from further spreading and controlling the world.
With the lack of any twists or anything different, the story of Rage is well, average as mentioned earlier. Yes, it is an acceptable and believable story to keep the game moving, however it doesn’t do much to engage the gamers or do anything to surprise them. At least for me, it felt simply passable. The world however, is well constructed and formed, the different bandit factions all have a unique attribute to them and along the way you meet some interesting characters as well. The different major cities and areas all have a distinct feel and theme to them. They are beautifully crafted and varied to give each of them their own character and personality.
The characters that you meet are well designed to be believable and likable. Both the minor and major characters are well voiced and the way their scripts are written, it gives each character their individuality and uniqueness. Due to the length of the game as well as how the story progresses, it is a shame that the major characters met are a hit and miss. In the sense that before you can even start liking them or as you get slowly attached and engaged with the interactions of a particular character, it is time to move on and say goodbye as you proceed further into the game.
There are two major components to the game, the driving and the shooting. Each of them are complemented with some RPGish elements such as upgrades, looting and items. Rage plays fantastically well as a shooter. The different guns feel great, sounds powerful and everything else is well polished. The pure shooting action and fragging of enemies is fun and rightfully so since that is the major part of the game. There are several different kinds of guns, some more effective them others and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. However with the level design of the game, some weapons are definitely much more favoured as compared to the others. You can basically get through the entire game with just 2 weapons out of the whole range of arsenal that you can choose from; sniper rifle, rifle, pistol, crossbow etc. There is also the ability to use a melee attack in the form of your fists. Each of the different weapon have different types of bullets that you can choose from. For example the shotgun has the normal kind of bullets, explosive bullets and pulse bullets. Each to its own effectiveness with the normal bullets dealing the least damage of the rest but is the cheapest and easiest to obtain. The different bullets do help you as you progress through the game as the different enemies require different styles of treatment. With that said, the enemies that you face are smart and varied enough to keep things interesting.
There are several different kinds of enemies that you will face throughout the game. Each of them has their own style of fighting. For example, we have the mutants who will rush towards you to kill you while on the other hand we have the Authority soldiers hiding behind covers shooting you from afar. All the different enemies’ movement and way of fighting feel and look great; fights do get interesting and the challenge and difficulty is there to keep you engrossed and engaged. The enemy AI, when working well, is great. The human type of enemies seek cover and if you camp for too long they will start tossing grenades at you. The mutants run around mindlessly, jumping here and there to keep your crosshair aiming and body moving. Each of the different categories of enemies consists of different types within them to keep things varied and exciting. For example, the Authority have heavily armoured soldier that holds machine pulse gun and also the normal armoured soldier that holds a normal rifle. The variety is there and is significant because of the need to respond accordingly to the subtle difference that is present. All in all, the enemies are well designed and do their job in making Rage an entertaining shooter. In addition, there are occasional boss fights and in order to not spoil your fun, I can only say that they are all fantastically fun. The only problem though is that there are way too few of such encounters.
The driving part of the game takes place mainly when travelling between locations or if you’re taking part in the different races. The races are mainly side missions that don’t really matter. The vehicles that you drive all handle well. Controls are simple and effective, keeping the driving portion not too simplistic yet easy enough to keep the action going. There are races that you can take part, most mainly are side missions that can be overlooked if you’re not interested. Vehicles in the game are installed with weapons that allow you to kill any enemy vehicles along the way during travel or in a race should it permit weapons. The vehicle fights feel like mini games but do take up significant portion of your game time as you will find yourself travelling from mission to mission using your very own vehicle. Each vehicle has several upgrades that you can purchase using racing tickets (they are awarded in missions or completion of races). Vehicles are given to you as you proceed throughout the game. There isn’t much of a choice except to use whatever is best that is given to you at that point of time. The driving does give some diversity to the game and is welcomed especially when taking breaks in between the shooting and fire fights.
It is great that the focus isn’t so much so on the driving and is more emphasized in the shooting. The balance is just right for me and together, both components do give a sense of completeness to the game. They are both well thought out of and smartly executed. To keep things a little more interesting, there are RPGish elements that I mentioned earlier on. Though subtle, it does give a sense of progress and improvement to the player. Weapons have upgrades that improve their performance, you have the ability to buy armour upgrades to make your character much more secure and vehicles have upgrades to make them faster and stronger. All of the different upgrades weapons and items are purchasable at shops within the different cities that you visit.
There is also a small crafting part to the game where you can craft yourself some useful items such as bandages, adrenaline boosts and so on. Different parts and materials are obtainable either through buying them or looting them throughout the different places you visit. That brings us to the looting part of the game. Though minor, looting enemies provide you with necessities such as money and bullets that are vital in surviving in the game. You also have special collectible cards that are littered around the different locations. As small as these different RPG elements are within the game, they do blend well with the rest of the game and by doing so takes the game to a higher level of enjoyment.
There are side missions within the game and there are only three different types of them. One of them is to drive around destroying bandit vehicles. Another is to escort or oversee a particular deal from a vantage point, sniping any intruders and threats. Lastly is to visit places to basically kill a bunch of enemies due to whatever reason they tell you. The first few feel alright but as you proceed it gets dull and boring because of the way they are. The side missions within the second city are basically a replica of the missions within the first city, just with different locations. There are no real benefits other than the additional money that they reward upon completion. If you’re thinking of perhaps better weapons or special items, you will be thoroughly disappointed. This applies to the main missions as well; there is the lack of variety in missions and they are all simply killing all enemies then press the action button to perform a particular action and return.
There are several other mini-games present within the game that severs nothing more than distractions that you will overlook very quickly. There is the gambling mini game where you can do nothing more than you choose the amount of money you want to bet and leave it to luck as you roll the dices to see if you can clear a wave of mutants or something. There is the stabbing finger game where you have to press a key (spacebar I believe) at certain intervals in between your fingers. There is also a simon-says game. And lastly you have the card game which is the most interesting among the rest. All of the mini-games are there for you to earn some extra cash but other than that, it is just plain distraction that is fun for just the first moment you try it. The card game though is alright. You have several different kinds of collectible cards that are scattered across the lands and locations. The different cards have certain attributes. There isn’t so much so as a strategy to the game as cards are pre-picked (each card has a point value to determine its value. Different match allow a different total amount of point value of cards) and the way the cards come out is totally random. The only strategy is to have some of the best cards for its point value and pick them, hoping they come out in a way favourable to you. It is fun in short bursts, and it is also kind of exciting whenever you find new cards along the way. Other than the card game, the rest are just meh.
The game being somewhat open-world is true only to a certain extent. Yes you get to drive around and do stuff, but the stuff you can do as you drive around the place are very limited. Most locations require you to activate a certain mission so as to allow the scripted events to take place. Other than that, there are no real benefits in exploration. In fact there isn’t much to explore in the first place. Not a big problem though since the game isn’t supposed to be a Fallout type of game or GTA style of sandbox open-world. It is very linear and there isn’t much of a choice or any form of morality system put in place. One ending and that’s it. Just play through and follow whatever is instructed of you to do so. Kind of like old school shooters where you go level to level, just that this time you have more modernized elements (or gimmicks if executed poorly) implemented in the game.
The presentation and graphics of the game is great when working well. Many people including myself face graphical glitches and bugs that are somewhat fixed with a patch but not completely. Textures pop in and out almost always whenever you enter a new area or rather view a new area. Textures look horrible close up but are fine when viewed in a distance. High resolution textures can be enabled with a simple modification to the game and definitely makes the game look sharper and of course better. You do need a decent graphics card to play at full HD resolution with the mod, but it sure is worth it. Overall, when omitting the glitches and bugs, the game looks great. The different environments and locations have a distinct and unique feel to them. Character models are well designed and all look good. Enemies are distinguishable not only by the way they behave, but also the way they look. For example, the different factions of bandits can be identified from the way they look. Graphical effects such as explosions, bullets etc do add to the overall feel of the game in a great way. There are some minor details as well such as leaking pipes that livens up the game especially during fire fights. Character animations are fantastic as well and the quality is most noticeable when you face the mindless mutants.
As for the sound aspect of the game, it is decent enough to complement the game as a whole but not to the point that it stands out from the rest. The weapons sound great when firing, explosions do sound powerful and enemies give out the occasional battle cry or tactical commands for the mutants and humans respectively. It does help make it more exciting especially when you have guns firing all over. There is also the presence of exciting background music at times when fighting and they all sound decent and appropriate for the situation at hand. Voice acting as mentioned earlier is decently done.
With all that in mind, there is also the multiplayer side of the game. There are a two main online modes that you can play with. Firstly there is the Road Rage mode which plays like a racing game with objectives such as capture the flag and all your other common game types. There is the presence of a levelling system which allows you to unlock other cars as you proceed higher in level. The other online mode is Wasteland Legends which plays like a co-op mode. You and another person will take on different levels and points are awarded as you kill the various enemies. Try to get as much points as possible to win your partner. It is simple pure fun, especially so when the shooting elements of the game is so well polished and executed.
Overall the game is average and is certainly so thanks to the fun shooter it is. The driving aspect of the game does give some variety and the graphical prowess the new engine provides is definitely worthy of mention (besides the fact of the glitches and bugs). The story is sadly huge let down with nothing new or interesting to help complement the old but fun shooter formula. The gameplay is well polished and the new game engine shows huge promise for future developments. Rage being a pure shooter will certainly fair well but in this generation of games being a pure shooter itself isn’t going to cut it. Rage is a highly action packed and fun shooter but if considered as a game in a whole package, it feels lacking of that punch line to make it memorable.