Posted: January 27
I'm a decent way in to the game now - got all the gear, fairly certain where the end game is headed. I definitely have a good feel for the features and style of the game, and while I've selected yes - I do recommend the game - that comes with several important caveats.
iD have created a shooter with some really interesting ideas in RAGE. Unfortunately, it suffers from a stunning lack of ideas in many important respects, also - most of which have to do with the actual playing of the game. It's very old fashioned, in many ways, which you may view as a good thing if you're nostalgic for FPS games of old. Weapons assigned to number buttons, 1-10? Check. Unlock them in sequence, just as they're needed? Check. Tight corridors and fast enemies for shotgun splooshing? Check. Open spaces and cover loving baddies for sniper or machine gun play? Check. Oh, and here's a crossbow. Because crossbow.
The enemies, while spouting some interesting dialogue, are of very limited variety, models reused with alarming frequency. Likewise, their move sets are limited. The challenge arises here in presenting you with more enemies, or sometimes enemies with higher hit points, than in providing smarter baddies. I can't think of a single interesting villian - or hero, for that matter - in the game so far. The characters are massively cliché. Attempts at making the world intimidating, or even horrifying in terms of things you see in bandit camps, are immediately undone by slapstick bad guys with cartoonish animation. Also, it's always jarring to be lectured endlessly about the dangers of this horrifying world, how every step outside the secure towns is taking your life in your hands as hordes of unspeakable monstrosities await the frothy goodness of your very blood...and then to saunter from place to place on a quad bike or stupidly heavily armed buggy without so much as an insult shouted from a nearby hillock. RAGE is not a dangerous world. Glasgow pubs are, literally and figuratively, more dangerous than RAGE.
This is a game with too many ideas, some of which conflict stylistically with each other. And despite, or perhaps because of, the implementation of these ideas, other things are just left to the side. The world is very small, with some areas getting reused numerous times, just filled with different baddies. There's no true free roaming, in that you follow a limited set of canyons to a few major hubs. Occasionally you blow up a dam, or other obstruction, to unlock new canyons and a new hub. Quests are just places to go and collect things, with set pieces all along the way. A little bit on rails for a modern shooter.
RAGE also features an incredibly annoying set of outdated features which aren't directly related to the gameplay. ALL the button prompts are for xBox controllers, even if one isn't hooked up. I know it's a console port, but that's just lazy and off-putting, and the mapping for controls is far from explicit about what the assigned key will do. The game actually prompts you to save on some occasions (only seen this in DLC missions so far, to be fair), stating that "The action is about to HOT up, better save". Any immersion you managed to achieve in this game, you just shattered with one pop-up. It may sound like griping, but the menu is just plain silly. Select quit game...get the "Are you sure" message. Select yes...get dumped to the opening splash screen, prompted to press enter. Press enter, get the main menu. Select quit game, and...get the are you sure window *again*.
The game also features something worth special mention: The Most Pointless Weapon Upgrade Ever. Yes, the MPWUE can be found right here in RAGE! An otherwise neat little gun, the Authority LMG, features an optic with decent magnification, good accuracy, large magazines, and an armour piercing ammo variety. It's a staple, and it comes in very handy. And you can buy a laser pointer for it. Now this would be fairly useless anyway, as the shotgun takes care of anything short range and for long range - duh, optic. But the laser beam actually fades away within a few virtual inches of the gun. Even if you stand beside a wall, you realise it's just "painted on" - no red dot ever appears. And, and - there's an aiming reticule anyway! Granted, I've never tried disabling it. Maybe you can. Even so, this somewhat expensive upgrade feels like a lot of ideas in this game: it doesn't matter whether it WORKS, we just think it's cool.
So why would I recommend RAGE? The vehicle combat between hubs actually feels pretty good. They got the feel and speed very nearly perfect. The weapons, while outlandish and old school, are very fun, especially the alternative ammunition types. Some of the town characters are kind of fun - Kvasir is a favourite, with the little cute robot head on his shoulder nodding or shaking its head along with his conversation. The crafting aspect is pretty well implemented without being intrusive. The little turrets, sentry bots, RC bomb cars and so on, are all fun to scavenge for and use. The areas you go to for missions - should have mentioned, they load up when you enter, they're not part of the open canyons directly - are well laid out, though the path is fairly linear. A little exploration is rewarded with spare parts and such.
RAGE kinda sorta tries to be a more action oriented Fallout, but falls way short of the depth and story of that remarkable world. It also tries to be a single player Borderlands, a bit, and that's just absurd. A showcase of great ideas pinned on an ungainly donkey, pick it up cheap, laugh at its absurdity, enjoy smooshing mutants with an arsenal of stuff...but don't expect awe or major adrenaline rushes, nor a deep, post apocalyptic experience.