The godfather of shooter game genre, id Software, has returned to the gaming world with their hotly-anticipated shooter: RAGE.  In RAGE, a meteor has fallen to earth and shattered the lives of everyone around you.  In order to help survive humanity, humans locked themselves in cryo pods and buried themselves under the earth.  The story fast forwards to the future where you are awoken from your cryo sleep with your environment destroyed around you.  As you were the only one in your pod group who made it out alive you venture out to the sunlight only to find the world a totally different place.  Long gone are the bustling cities of the past and a world of Mad Max like bandits have taken over.  Let’s hop right into the wasteland and see what we thought about the game.

What We Thought Was Cool

Environments and Characters:

The art direction in RAGE is downright gorgeous.  Even though the PS3 limits it to 720P (Why GOD, why?!), you really get the feeling of being in a dust-filled nightmare of a world.  The landscape is strewn with destroyed cities, freeways, and other remembrances of daily life before the world changed.  The towns that you encounter such as Wellspring are true to what you would think a survival town would be.  Filled with makeshift survival systems that are pieced together by scrap that the citizens find on their journeys.  You encounter many indoor environments like sewers that make your spine tingle from the dripping grossness around you.  id Software is known for making things beautiful and they have really outdone themselves with their art direction on this one by virtue of their new id Tech 5 game engine.

The characters of RAGE are fascinating – not only to watch but, also, to interact with.  One of the first characters you meet in the game is voiced by John Goodman and can make you almost feel sad for his current situation.  Engaging players enough to make them feel emotion is a big win in character design and story development.  As you make your way through the game you meet a wide cast of characters from shady racing promoters to local shop keeps.  The bandits and mutants you encounter are both intense and disgusting.  Some of the mutant creatures even made me cringe in horror as they shot out towards my character.  Each character in RAGE has a unique personality that keeps the player moving through the game.

Tons Of Weapons:

RAGE is a world filled with a “Do It Yourself” type attitude.  Sure, there are still guns and ammo around but that doesn’t mean they are going to be readily available to you.  The wasteland is filled with improvised weapons like boomerangs with metal blades called Wingsticks and RC bomb cars.  Each weapon can be upgraded via vendors to add such things as scopes or extra mags for ease of use.  Where the downfall comes in is the lack of available ammo.  I found myself in many missions simply running out of ammo and having to use my bare fists.  if you don’t stock up at the local vendor before you head out you may be in for a world of hurt on your missions.  Thankfully, the crafting system allows for a little help in the weapon department.  Scattered around the world is a metric ton of glowing items for you to pick up.  From saw blades to wire kits nothing should be left behind.  You can purchase plans from vendors or earn them from missions that will allow you to not only create ammo but other weapons like the bomb RC cars.  The only hard part is actually getting to these plans…

Replay Factor:

The replay factor in RAGE is huge.  With an already large single player campaign, there is tons to go back and do once you are done.  Feel like getting down with some Twisted Metal like racing?  The town of Wellspring has an area that will allow you to enter tons of races for certificates.  These certificates allow you to access design kits and modifications for your cars at a special vendor.  The races are fun and easy to pick up and play for someone looking to casual game.  If racing is not your deal then there is always the collectible card mini game found in the local bars.  Around the world hidden in dark corners are glowing red boxes.  These boxes contain special cards that you can use in a collectible card battle game.  Very similar to Magic, the cards have different abilities and point values to build your deck.  I found myself player this mini-game for almost as long as the campaign.  A great addition by the developers to an already solid game.

What We Thought Sucked

The Story:

The one failure in RAGE is the story.  As you progress through the game, you find yourself not really caring why you are there or what you are doing.  There isn’t that one big hook that keeps the player engaged to keep doing missions.  The side missions, while fun, don’t really add up from a story perspective and the FedEx-style quests don’t really help the process.  id Software has never been known for a strong story in their games and while this is an improvement from previous titles, it still falls short.

Why Wont You Die?:

Have you ever put a shotgun up to bad guys face, pulled the trigger, and watched him just stand there?  RAGE is full of moments where the bad guys you face simply just wont die.  Unloading clip after clip of ammo into certain bad guys can be a frustrating experience and really pull the player out of the game.  Coupled with the shortage of ammo, this leads to some intense situations just to kill one or two bad guys in front of you.  While I understand the need for special ammo, there is no reason a direct hit should result in nothing less than gibbs on the floor.

Final Thoughts

While not a perfect game, RAGE is a fun trip through a Mad Max style world, worth your hard-earned cash and time.  The big home run for RAGE is in its replay factor with just tons to do and see.  I highly suggest Shogunites everywhere pick this one up and give it a spin – not just because it is developed by a great company but because it is genuinely a really fun experience.

 

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