Guns, Buggies, And Mutants, Oh My!
id Software popularized the first-person shooter genre with their breakout game Wolfenstein 3D back in 1992. Since then, id has spent the last two decades pushing the envelope and giving us one incredible game after another, including the Quake and Doom series. They could’ve stuck to the tried and true path and given us another installment in one of their handful of renowned franchises, but instead they decided to take a risk. That risk is RAGE, a post-apocalyptic shooter that offers a unique mixture of gunplay and frenetic dune buggy fights with some RPG elements thrown in for a little added flavor. It’s an intriguing concept, but how does it stack up against their previous work?
Pretty well I’d say. In the current economic climate, fewer companies are taking risks, so that only makes RAGE all the sweeter; it’s something new and different while also being familiar and approachable. This game has a little for everyone: shooter fans will appreciate the finely tuned combat, responsive controls, and the vast arsenal of weapons that you can use to mow down your foes. RPG fans will appreciate the side quests, speaking with the locals, upgrading your equipment, and the sheer amount of time you can spend exploring every nook and cranny of this beautifully realized environment. There’s even something for the gamers who have a lust for driving real fast, since the buggy fights play out like Mario Kart for adults.
id is known for their attention to detail, and RAGE has benefited greatly from this. The world they’ve created will be familiar to fans of the post-apocalyptic genre, but this isn’t a desaturated, depressing world. Despite everything being in a state of decay, RAGE’s environments are surprisingly vibrant. There are a few set pieces in particular that are definitely eye-catching, and you’ll probably have to take a moment to soak in all the little details. RAGE even rewards you for breaking away from the path and exploring, with hidden items and collectibles strewn about each environment. Add RAGE’s remarkable ability to render all the details and action in a slick 60 frames per second, and you have yourself a game that never slows down.
The attention to detail expands far beyond the environments, reaching the enemies you encounter and the guns to dispatch them with. There’s a decent variety in the types of enemies you’ll encounter, ranging from buggy-riding bandits to agile mutants who can navigate the environment in ways that make me wonder if they were into parkour before they became the foul, blood-thirsty savages they are when you meet them. Sprinkle on some incredibly intimidating boss fights and RAGE’s enemies are some of the most terrifying ones id has pitted us against so far—and that’s saying something after Doom 3’s Pinky.
Thankfully, you’ll have a vast arsenal of weapons at your disposal that can be used to take out the mutants that will inevitably attack. There are the classic weapon types like rifles, machine guns, pistols, and shotguns, along with more exotic choices like the stealth-friendly crossbow. But by far, the weapon of choice for anyone who wants to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland overrun by mutants and all sorts of bedlam is the wingstick. It might not sound intimidating at first, but believe me, the wingstick will soon become your best friend. It’s best described as a deadly boomerang that homes in on the target before killing it in a delightfully gruesome way, then it returns safely to your hand (most of the time).
If that’s just not enough to satiate your endless appetite for all things painful, you can choose from the game’s hearty selection of gadgets including remote-controlled cars that explode, deployable turrets, and sentry bots. Still not enough? How about some steamy buggy-on-buggy action? At first, the buggies are a means of going from point A to point B without having to traverse the sprawling environments. But they soon become another way to defend yourself against the plethora of enemies you’ll face—some of which have their own buggies—whose sole purpose seems to be to take you out. This is where the buggy upgrades and weapons come in handy: you can outfit your vehicle with special parts that make it run more smoothly. Also, there are custom paintjobs, weapons like machine guns and rocket launchers, and special gadgets. The gadgets can be particularly fun as they include a temporary shield, drop mines, hover turrets, and more.
Story-wise, RAGE is above average, though it probably won’t wow you with any surprising plot twists. The story is simple: you awake after being frozen and find yourself in the middle of a mutant-infested wasteland; now you must survive. Along the way you’ll meet a myriad of memorable characters who feel as real and alive as the world they live in, and there’s a feeling of progression that makes the whole experience all the more rewarding.
The missions are interesting too, and this game actually manages to give us interesting side-quests. You won’t have to worry about completing mundane fetch quests that plague so many RPG games; instead RAGE’s side-quests reveal interesting side stories or offer fun things to do like protecting your allies from waves of mutants as they try to repair a vehicle.
The single-player campaign is a little short and ends rather abruptly, but it’s likely to run you anywhere from 10-15 hours, depending on how much time you spending completing side quests. Once it’s over, you can occupy yourself with the competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes. The former pits you and up to five other players in frantic dune buggy fights that put your driving skills to the test. The latter includes several missions that can be completed with a friend online. I would’ve preferred a more fleshed-out competitive multiplayer, since the current offering is pretty shallow, and it would’ve been nice if the campaign could be taken on with a friend. But as it stands, these are still viable options to keep this game in your collection long after you’ve beaten it.
Does RAGE push boundaries and set a new bar for future shooters to come? Not really. But it doesn’t need to. Instead of trying to revolutionize a genre, id has given us another stellar game that’s taken elements from a few different games, in many cases improved them, and seamlessly integrated them into RAGE’s world. Everything about this game is polished to near-perfection: the guns feel satisfying and the quests aren’t comprised of the lame “fetch this” or “go kill that” missions that many of us have grown tired of long ago. This is a game that manages the impressive feat of appealing to many different types of gamers without sacrificing any of its quality. Even if you’re on the fence as to whether or not this is something you’d be interested in, I’m sure that if you give it a chance you’ll find something worthwhile in the savage and exciting world that is RAGE.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.6 Graphics
RAGE is a gorgeous game. Everything from the environments to the enemies is incredibly detailed. 4.5 Control
id Software created the genre, so it’s not surprising how well RAGE handles. The combat is intuitive and the driving is insanely fun. 4.4 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The ominous, even unsettling soundtrack matches RAGE’s empty wasteland perfectly. 4.5 Play Value
The campaign is shorter than expected, but there’s still plenty to do once it’s over, including the competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes. 4.5 Overall Rating – Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best