id Software has a long history with the FPS genre, the fact that they developed the likes of Quake and Doom certainly proves my point. So what about this latest shooter of theirs, Rage? It was originally announced in 2007 but got delayed until 2009 however now that the game has finally hit the shelves; let’s find out whether id Software still has that “touch”.
The first thing to note about Rage is that it is an fps. Sure, it may seem like an RPG at first similar to the likes of borderlands but be warned, you will most certainly be shooting shit and blowing stuff up.
After an asteroid collides with the earth civilization as we know it has been lost. ‘The Authority’, a government group rules with a relentless hand and what it does not like, it destroys. The protagonist, he who must not be named mainly because he lacks one, has been sent into the future with a group of mercenaries to try and prevent the authority from taking over in a spaceship/submarine hybrid called the Ark. Unfortunately and decisively, our protagonist is the only one who survives the trip and as he lands, is subject to a fire fight in order to continue doing so. He is rescued by the leader of a local faction and the story kicks off causing the player to migrate from town to town after completing tasks for the NPC’s.
Our hero must struggle to stay alive whilst battling the Authority and various other bands of bandits and athletic mutants so you can be sure there is a well maintained variety on what you will be shooting and the challenges and strategies thereof.
The short narrative (7 hours) can seem unexplained at times and the fact that the protagonist lacks any background information apart from what is explained at the beginning creates a lack of understanding between the player and the character, it makes it seem as if the player was only an excuse for you to shoot mutants and bone-headed bandits. As Rage is a new IP developers should have certainly focused more on establishing the world they are about to explore.
I just want to make it clear that Rage is beautiful and id’s experience in first person shooters certainly shines at its brightest, if you’re into mutants that is. Seriously the excruciatingly detailed texturing matches the likes of Crysis 2 with smoke and particle effects that only add to the mix, this is a pretty wasteland indeed.
Whether you find yourself in a vehicle or on-foot expect there to be something around you, there are no empty spaces on this map. Unfortunately, although there is no lack of environmental detail to keep you from denying the authenticity of the world you are exploring, the Wasteland which you will be exploring many-a-time, is often devoid of any interactivity. Namely it just looks pretty which is quite a shame since there is a lot of empty space in between your destinations.
Also, as Rage is based in an open world which encourages exploration, a day-night cycle is certainly missed, I don’t think the asteroid caused the earth to forever maintain its rotation but this is hardly a game breaker. It’s one of those small just a details that would have been nice to see, especially considering the variation it would have added to the lighting.
Character models are finely detailed and lighting is excellent throughout as a well maintained contrast is kept with indoor and outdoor environments. Unfortunately what goes up must come down and this is certainly the case with Rage. Textures often find it difficult to keep pace with your character so expect to see this every time you load a level or run forward, even with the game loaded on to the hard drive.
Rage, as I mentioned earlier, is a shooter at heart but it does add a little flavour which again compliments the experience of the developer. The inclusion of wingsticks certainly adds variety to how enemies can be confronted, but if you do find yourself surrounded and being mercilessly bashed to death then there is usually little you can do about it thanks to the tight level designs in various places.
True to its name ‘Rage’ is certainly what you will be feeling when these confrontations occur, thankfully you are given up to two chances to defibrillate yourself through a mini-game process and if done effectively, it can temporarily shock nearby opponents and allow you to pick them off swiftly.
Useful items can be assigned to quick slots available via the directional buttons which should be carefully thought out whilst entering a fire fight as very little margin of error is given to the player, for the more creative of us, there are also upgrades and other improvisations that can be achieved through the use of engineering giving new life to the preset weapons. Some upgrade recipes can be bought for a fair price at your local town retailer whilst others are found throughout the world.
Speaking of prices, funding is not a problem for our hero as missions provide you with trinkets that can be sold to merchants and most of the enemies you kill can be looted, so be sure to stock up on ammo before heading off as the numbers can be overwhelming at times, and remember even mutants read books.
At heart Rage may be an fps but id have certainly stuffed as much content on to the disc as possible, although you will be shooting a lot, if you do get bored of the slightly repetitive point a to b missions then do not fret, as with any normal town, common townsfolk are more than willing to give a complete stranger various odd jobs just don't be expecting mundane tasks like rescuing cats from trees, that’s for the non time travelling mutant bashing protagonists.
If those don't interest you then you may find the races available in each town to your liking. That’s right; the developer has somehow managed to integrate a whole arcade racer nostalgic of the Motorstorm series complete with different challenge levels and vehicle customisation and best of all it seems to fit well within the world and encourages the storyline, some of these races are even vital to the progression of the story as players must unlock new vehicles to tackle certain missions.
The sound design is vast and voice acting is great provides a lifelike feel to the narrative. Sound effects are not down played and a sense of tension looms over the environment pretty well, just be sure not to sit too close with the volume up when entering dead city.
To ensure longevity, Rage includes two multiplayer modes; Road Rage and Legends.
Road Rage pits you in the vehicles seen in the single player and allows you to challenge friends or random players online in attempt to reach objectives/stop your adversaries from reaching them. There is a levelling system incorporated which allows unlocks of faster vehicles and stronger weapons.
Legends mode are various, short co-operative missions that can be played through with a friend. Challenge levels vary. The missions themselves are short stories pulled from the single player or based around the NPC’s that you will meet during the single player. All weapons from the campaign are at your disposal and it really is quite fun. Both these modes can also be played split screen with a local buddy. After a few hours of playing online, I really came to appreciate the legends mode, albeit the short duration of the missions they certainly provide challenging level design and not only encourage the players to co-operate, but rather force them to do so.
Rage, despite its name, can prove to be quite an experience. The campaign does not drag on and on and the missions are varied and vast. The graphics will certainly capture you if game play does not. AI is smart and will flank you and take cover effectively proving infuriating at times. The game does have a rather vague ending though so there may be a sequel in the horizon.
Multiplayer does seem a little tacked on rather than well thought out but again, no major complaints. It does its job well but the focus is clearly on the campaign mode.
Story = 7/10
Gameplay = 8/10
Graphics = 9/10
Final We Know Gamers Score = 8/10