Rage, the post-apocalyptic first-person shooter everyone has been waiting for has finally arrived. Read on to find out if it sinks into the sands of the Wasteland or escapes unscathed.
Bethesda Softworks, the extremely talented developers behind titles such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, have only recently released Rage. Rage is a post-apocalyptic game which focuses on you – an ark survivor – who has just awoken from cryosleep. Massive meteors have struck the Earth and completely changed its face. Mutants, bandits, and brigands all travel the Wasteland; most of them are merely trying to survive. Read on!
Much of the game’s early story is composed of tutorial-like content. You’ll help a guy out here, help another there, and maybe get something in return for all of your efforts. However, when we delve a bit further into the game and what it is about, we see that a reigning power known as ‘The Authority’ has taken over; these people sport futuristic technology, upgraded weaponry, and absolute dominion over most of the Wasteland. The Authority is on a mission to retain their stranglehold on the world’s people, and to eliminate all ark survivors; for those of you who do not know what an ark is, it is a device that harbors a number of people to survive the meteor showers that previously struck the planet. These ark survivors have been integrated with nanites, which give them upgraded regenerative abilities and operate an automatic defibrillator. This defibrillator is attached to your heart, and revives you upon death so long as it still has charge.
Rage’s story is honestly very light, and is one of the few places I did have a problem with the game. It seems like the talented people at Bethesda were rushed – or maybe impatient and tried to rush the game along. Without spoiling anything, I feel as if the game could better have been served by a sequel; if not a sequel, then a definite lengthening of the game. The final act was pretty bad, and honestly is the main reason I am bashing the story so badly. The overall feel and style of the game was put to the wayside, and your entire perception of Rage’s world was overturned. If you’ve ever been so engrossed in a world and it’s environment, you’ll agree with me when I say it can be very unsettling – maybe even upsetting, when all you know about a game is suddenly extremely irrelevant. With all of this said, Rage’s story – apart from the rushed feeling and final act – was very solid. It still suffered from that ‘errand-boy’ syndrome we have come to expect from so many open-world games nowadays, but if I was going to bash Rage for that, I would have to bash quite a few other games as well.
Rage is beautiful. That’s all that needs to be said here, but for the sake of my integrity as a writer, I will explain in some greater detail as to why it is so. The Wasteland is a dry, lonely, godforsaken place. That being the case, it can be hard to evoke a sense of beauty; Rage does it with flair, though. Dust flies from your tires as you drive across the perilous terrains, gun flashes light up the area surrounding you, and textures –once loaded – are absolutely gorgeous. Now, Rage being as pretty as it is doesn’t mean that it is without faults. Sometimes, textures will take a few seconds to load; it’s my belief that because some of these are so intricate they take a bit longer to fully reveal themselves. If I was a major critic, I would say this is degrading, volatile, and absolutely degrading to the overall experience of Rage – I’m not, though. These texture problems may be semi-frequent, but they never last long. If you are engrossed enough into the experience of the game, it shouldn’t be a problem in the first place.
Furthermore, the game’s unbelievable frame rate is another reason to forgive this slight texture problem. The game runs at a blinding sixty frames per second, and in my play-through there was never a noticeable drop. It’s said that there are more varied problems on the PC version of the game, but we here a Gameranx received a PS3 copy of the game. Apart from those textures we discussed at length, there were really no other faults in this department – and as I said before, Rage is one damn beautiful game.
The most featured element of Rage’s marketing plan was in its gameplay, and for good reason! Rage is downright, inexplicably, positively: fun. Its strength lies in its ability to adapt. What do I mean by this? The game lets you interact and battle with the inhabitants of the Wasteland in many different ways; by firing an electrically-charged bolt into a water source, you can fry enemy denizens of the wasteland in seconds; by throwing an EMP-grenade at The Authority and their advanced weaponry, you can disable them completely for a few seconds. It is in these conventions of Rage that we see its real strength. I will say though, that Rage can be unforgivingly difficult at some points. At one point, the loading screen told me, “Save your game frequently! The Wasteland can be a dangerous place!” Well – I should have listened, because twenty minutes into the level I ran out of charges on my defibrillator and was sent all the way back to the beginning of the level. If I had played it on a level harder than Normal, I probably would have put it on my imaginary Hardest Games of All-Time list, with the company of games such as Demon’s Souls and others.
The game also features many driving segments – these are fun, but feel unfinished and rushed. Like we talked about in regards to the game’s story, the same applies here. I did however, have more fun in each and every racing segment than I did in the final act of the storyline. That probably speaks in volumes how the strong points of Rage stand out so much from the bad ones. In terms of what these driving segments offer the player, there is quite a bit; by placing high in races offered by the town’s race organizers, you earn the right to racing certificates. These can be exchanged for parts to improve your vehicle’s performance, and since you can’t buy parts with hard cash, they can be extremely valuable. If you can’t upgrade your ride, you aren’t going to make it in the Wasteland. You’ll find yourself spending quite a bit of time in towns and settlements because of these races, but it is engrossing, so you never feel like your time is wasted.
So, what’s the verdict? Rage is unabashedly forward-facing with its faults, but it is also extremely powerful in its strengths. However, Rage has many of its problems in its central areas, and it is – by industry standards – hard to ignore. It’s an enormous step up from games like Brink and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge, though: awesome environments, graphics, and gameplay all contribute to the moving experience that is encompassed within the confines of Rage. A near-perfect meld of RPG and FPS elements puts Rage at a solid 8.5 on the Gameranx Scale of Awesome.