RAGE Review (360/PS3/PC)

October 11, 2011

PC, PlayStation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

RAGE is a first-person action adventure title for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC that was developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. After being in development for over five years, does RAGE live up to all the hype or is this one game that needed to remain in the Ark?

Story: 4/5

In RAGE, you play as an unnamed survivor of a cataclysmic asteroid impact with the Earth. Civilization has collapsed and the world has crumbled, all while you were in a hibernation located in an underground spaceship called the “Ark.” You awake to find yourself the sole survivor among the Ark’s inhabitants and emerge into the new world. Luckily you’re soon picked up by the kindly leader of a local outpost of civilization, and soon you’re put to work helping to keep what’s left of civilization from being overrun by the gangs of miscreants and hordes of mutants that control the wastelands. Within the first 20 minutes, the game kicks into high gear.  The intro mission really shows you how fast paced and cool the world of RAGE can be. As you progress through the missions, the scope of the story increases into a darker tone while still maintaining some light hearted moments that help break it up. One negative aspect of the story that I felt was that it could have been a little more plot driven. However, that’s not to say that the plot wasn’t good.  Towards the second half of the game, the story fleshes out into a darker and more intense feel making it a much deeper experience. The  characters and the setting will constantly change as you progress through the story making RAGE a unique title that is also a blast to play.

Gameplay: 5/5

RAGE is an original shooter, combining a mix of racing, RPG, and FPS all in one. The universe is complete with characters to converse with, further adding to the story and/or side missions.  The game also features RPG elements such as looting and enhancing your character’s traits and weaponry.  You can also take time to play some of RAGE’s selection of mini games ranging from target practice, intense racing and also gambling. However, this not a real RPG but rather it is and “RPG light” as I called it. There are no experience points to be gained for leveling up your character. When it comes to combat and action, RAGE is a pure, fast-paced shooter, and one that fans of the genre will find gratifyingly inspiring.  Enemy AI is state of the art, plain and simple.  Diverse factions of enemies display their own unique characteristic tactics. Fighting your way through a rough terrain, you might succeed on one mission against enemies that effectively uses cover, moving between safe firing positions and occasionally blind fire at you.  Other enemies will aggressively flank you from all sides working together to bring you down.

Playing on Hard mode I did a healthy share of dying and I got the sense that normal mode would not be that much easier due to the fast paced action and intense AI.  Dying in this game is fun and unique because you’ll have the chance to use your embedded defibrillator to give you a second chance on life. This mini game is used to regulate how much health you’ll have when you recover. When you do, you’ll send out a shock pulse that will fry any enemy foolish enough to get to close to you, sometimes even killing them depending how crafted your button-pressing abilities are. Once you obtain this second chance, you’ll need to allow the defibrillator to recharge before you can rely on it to resuscitate yourself again. If there is one minor complaint I did have with RAGE’s gameplay, it was the particular way you had to save in-game. You need to get used to saving your game manually and doing it often, checkpoints are only given when entering or exiting areas. Everything else in between the player must pause the game and save on his or her own.  That aside, the shooting mechanics in RAGE are fantastically executed with excellent weapons ranging from lethal boomerangs (known as wing sticks), RC cars packed with a spy camera, C4 explosives and automated turrets. What really sets RAGE apart from other FPS’s is the vehicle and racing combat, which is a big part of the game.  I must state that for those who hate racers, there are only about 2 or 3 mandatory races in the whole game ,so fear not. As far as regular vehicle use traveling from one place to another, requires traversing through the treacherous desert seething with armed buggies, murderous bandits and armed turrets.  Fortunate for you, the customization you can do to your vehicles are simply remarkable.  From shocks and tires, to armed machine guns, homing missiles and flying turret drones, RAGE offers an incredible amount of vehicle customization. The vehicles all handle responsively, with it’s fast and tight controls, especially when you upgrade your nitro and handling mechanics.  The driving aspect of the game could easily be compared to MotorStorm or other off-road racers. The buggies and ATV’s handle like a dream and reaching high speeds while hitting a ramp over a large canyon, with a jaw dropping sunset in the background, definitely sets a new bar of pure fun and excitement.

Graphics: 5/5

RAGE is many things, but you cannot discuss any of them without first talking about its astonishing visuals. Id Software’s new engine is simply magnificent. In the first 10 minutes, depending on your TV display, you might literally drool for minutes at a time with the natural beauty and landscape of RAGE’s first few scenes. Some might not notice it as much because of the post-apocalyptic setting we’ve seen in games such as Fallout and Borderlands. However, each environment within the game feels unique and original. Everything feels distinct, there is no repeating items or textures. The game runs at an amazing 60 frames per second with no frame drops. I must say that playing on the Xbox 360, I chose to install each disc that I was playing, making sure I experienced the best visuals and gameplay.  The character animations are outstanding; featuring some fantastic facial movement.  This is the most impressive technology I have seen to date and anybody who has been playing games for more than a few years would be hard-pressed to argue this point.

Sound: 4/5

I must say audio was impressive throughout the game. The voice work is great featuring the great Steven Blum known from anime movies and over 95 games including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham city, Halo, Call of Duty, Ninja Gaiden and many others.  Also, Hollywood’s own John Goodman, who plays as your first contact that you perform jobs for, has a great supporting role. There are a few strange performances that occasionally pop up and do detract the game negatively at points.  The soundtrack is fantastic combining western with post-end of the world, apocalyptic tunes you would expect. The sound effects are amazing and shine further through a surround system. Guns fire with such authority and the explosions are powerful, enhancing the experience.

Overall Score: 18/20 = 9.0/10

Simply put, RAGE is an outstanding game. What makes RAGE great is due to its focus on action more than RPG elements from games like Fallout and Borderlands. The online modes are a nice diversion and the campaign is definitely lengthy if you choose to complete all the quests and mini-games scattered around the universe. Id Tech 5 should be the new standard for many developers to look into utilizing due to the power it possesses. Thanks to this amazing technology, RAGE is one of the best looking games on the market.  All video game enthusiasts should, at one point or another, experience RAGE.

PROs:

+ Visuals are simply the best this generation has seen.

+ Gunplay is incredible and tight.

+ Lots of game here.

+ Wing Sticks should be in every game.

CONs:

– Missions can feel repetitive

– Story could have been a lot deeper

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