Rage Game – Doom?
If you’ve seen anything on RAGE – the new first-person shooter from id Software – you probably noticed one thing: it’s really, really pretty. When you play it on a 360 or PS3, it’s just as pretty as the commercials make it look. Believe the hype, this is the best-looking game available for consoles. There is now a visual gold standard for consoles, and its name is RAGE.
The graphics shown off in RAGE are nothing short of unbelievable. Gaming on a PC has always yielded more power, which means better graphics, but id Sofware showed exactly what these five-year old consoles are capable of.
Environments from blue skies to jagged, dusty canyons look photorealistic. The townsfolk that populate RAGE’s wasteland are tremendously detailed from their clothing to their movement to their mannerisms. Every pixel of this game is vividly realized and colorful. Throw in a blazing frame rate and virtually no texture pop-in, and it shows that RAGE is just on another level compared to anything else out there for console.
Striking visuals are great I’m sure we can all agree on this, but they can’t be the only aspect of a superior game. Fortunately, RAGE’s graphics aren’t the only thing it has going for it.
RAGE is an FPS that focuses on the single-player experience. The campaign is its premier mode. It does many things well, but its weakest link is the story. RAGE struggles when it comes to plot and how this plot is explained. From beginning to end I was never sure of my character’s past, his current motives or the sociological issues of the towns I was traveling through. I found myself going through the motions without having any genuine interest in what I was actually doing.
When you factor in a blunder of a finale, RAGE’s story telling is a total catastrophe. It’s so bad that I don’t think I could adequately explain RAGE’s story in a short paragraph, so I won’t even attempt to.
Having experienced this rough draft of a story, it raised further questions during this review. If this game is immensely enjoyable, not to mention a true treat to look at, do you really need the story? That was the quandary I faced. Story and plot are important parts of today’s games, and in order for a game to get a perfect score it needs to have these ingredients. But a game doesn’t need them to be a great. Despite its poor story, there are a dozen of other aspects that RAGE does superbly, namely its gameplay.
RAGE’s gameplay is first-person shooting at its finest. RAGE is part shooter, dungeon crawler, RPG and even driving game. This collection of gameplay elements keeps the campaign fresh and entertaining throughout its ten-to-twelve hour tenure.
You’ll be dumped into wastelands where almost every being you come across is an enemy, and these enemies are ruthless. The enemies’ AI is truly special. No two enemies ever move the same way. Wasteland mutants will climb and jump off walls, flip over railings, sprint, duck, and roll. These movements look totally natural and give RAGE an authentic feel. Plus from a programming viewpoint, it’s quite a technical achievement.
The developers discovered an innovative death sequence in the defibrillator. Your suit has one of these nifty gadgets built-in so when you’re health is depleted it triggers a minigame that must be completed in order to charge the defibrillator. Once charged, it replenishes your health as well as giving a nasty shock to any enemy sanding near you.
Level design is another defining feature of RAGE and its beautiful graphics help. Each area feels new and has its own style from the layout to the area’s asthetics. One of the drawbacks, however, is in your HQ. It’s easy to get completely lost here and there’s no map to reference or guide arrow. Of all places, the headquarters should be the most manageable area, but it turns out to be the least.
To fight off the enemy hordes in the wasteland you’ll need adequate firepower and RAGE accommodates. You’ll juggle an impressive arsenal and have a bevy of ammunition types to choose from for each weapon. The wingstick – a boomerang-esque throwing weapon – is among the coolest in the game.
When guns aren’t enough, RAGE gives the option to build bots and turrets with scavenged scrap to fight for you. There are so many ways to mix up the combat and make the game your own.
In RAGE if you aren’t shooting, you’re driving. The driving aspects could have easily felt tacked-on and rushed. Lucky for us it’s one of the most enjoyable experiences in the game. RAGE’s driving feels like it could be its own game. You can spend hours competing in race events that range from straight-up racing, combat racing, and rally competitions where four players battle to reach rally points scattered around a circular map.
After destroying the competition, racing credits can be used to upgrade your car’s firepower and defenses. The fun factor of these additional gameplay elements is what helps make RAGE a memorable experience from start to finish.
As entertaining and fun as the campaign is, it isn’t perfect. Its most intrusive imperfection is RAGE’s save system. Rather than adopting today’s autosave, or checkpoint save system, id decided to go with the archaic quick-save feature. With this function you can save at any time on the fly in the pause menu, but if you forget to save and die you’ll end up replaying the previous 20-to-30 minutes you just completed.
There really is no upside to this save style. Either you don’t save enough and you are forced to replay everything you just accomplished, or you save too often and break the action every two minutes, completely taking you out of the experience. This style of saving is dead and I wish the developers would have realized that.
Upon completion of the mid-length campaign, there’s still plenty more RAGE. A nine-level group of co-op missions called Wasteland Legends is fun to jump into with a friend. These are short, but action-packed episodes narrated expertly by John Goodman.
There are also multiplayer race events that play like Mario Kart if you covered Mario Kart in dirt and gunpowder. Though if you’re looking for deathmatch modes, sorry, you’ll be disappointed to find that it’s not included.
RAGE has its share of shortcomings, but there is a fantastic shooter at its heart. It’s visually groundbreaking and does so many other things well those shortcomings can easily be overlooked.