Being a bit of an FPS fan, and having very fond memories of the old id classics, I was excited to pick up RAGE on release and plough through it on a day off work.
It was everything I expected, from an id shooter, nothing more, nothing less – which was exactly what I wanted. Being forgiving of its flaws, everything else it does right, it does so right.
I’m going to try to avoid spoilers at all, but please forgive me if you consider finding out about some of the cooler weapons as a ‘spoiler’; it’s almost ALL I want to talk about, and in a way, it could be argued they’re the only thing worth getting really excited about in RAGE.
Don’t take this the wrong way though, in my mind an FPS is about shooting things (in the first person, no less) which means intrinsically you’re going to find yourself staring at the best part of a gun most of the time– and the things that come out of that gun– and the things those projectiles hit– and the way those things hit the deck / bite the bullet / expire / explode into bits.
The rest of the component parts which make up… HANG ON A MINUTE– I can’t wait any longer, I simply can’t wait to tell you that there’s a bloody bladed boomerang type throwing-star weapon which comes BACK to you, after slicing heads off. That is if it doesn’t get stuck in some part of the scenery or a victim’s skull.
There, I had to get that off my chest.
Honestly, if you’ve ever watched ‘Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior’, and wanted to throw that razor sharp boomerang that goes “THUNK” into the biker’s forehead, and then gets thrown again and comically cuts off the fingers of the guy who tries to catch it – just go right out and buy this game now (providing you’ve put a sort of £40 value on the whole thing) this game is as close as I’ve ever seen it get.
If Bladed boomerangs are not top of your Christmas list, you might need to read on. Now I’ve got the weapon porn out the way (more of that later) I’ll try to give the rest of the game a bit of impartial critique.
So, the graphics: top notch, lovely stuff, install the 22GB worth of data and you’ll have a pretty gorgeous shooter for your Xbox. I understand PC gamers have been getting gorgeous shooters for years, Crysis still looks good and that was 2007, but personally I don’t have the time, money nor inclination to keep up with graphics card updates, drivers, patches, etc. etc.
There’s no denying some technical limitations in the poor old Xbox, namely some texture pop in, which at first shocked me, but after time, I could ignore. Don’t expect miracles, be realistic, sit a bit further back than a meter from your screen and you’ll be fine!
The storyline: well, erm, its nothing to write home about. I actually don’t want to waste too much time talking about it because it’s largely inconsequential. It’s a very loose reason to carry on shooting things, but really, when the shooting is as visceral as this, I don’t need a reason to carry on. The fact that each time I pop an explosive tipped crossbow bolt into a guy’s chest *plunk*, and he runs around for a few seconds saying “oh no, oh F**k”… BOOM
That’s reason enough for me to want to find another guy to do this to, regardless of what some old sheriff of a post-apocalyptic town has asked me to go fetch for him. I’m not going to question my character’s motivation for all this larking about. I went to the shops and bought an Xbox game because I wanted to shoot things, not because I wanted a story that would convince me to shoot things for any particular reason.
To sum it up, the story isn’t good, but it’s not what I bought it for. If it’s what you want in an FPS, this is the point you might want to knock a few hypothetical points off the score.
Oh, and the game has some driving sections in between the shooting. Again, this is all the detail that it really warrants because in my opinion, the driving really wasn’t up to much. You can choose to take part in races which give you credits in order to upgrade your car (different credits to the in-game currency for everything else, like weapons, ammo, upgrades, etc.) so, really, the races are just a route to a better car, but if you don’t like spending the time in that car, what’s the point?
I completed only the bare minimum of races, which were necessary to advance the story, but never felt underpowered or at a disadvantage throughout the whole game. I felt like a badass killer at all times, which is exactly what I wanted!
Loading times: quite long, but infrequent enough not to affect the experience too much.
I’m trying to get the negatives out the way so that I can talk about some of the good stuff!
The gunplay: here we go.
It’s brilliant, easily some of the most satisfying shooting I’ve experienced.
Ever since Goldeneye on the N64 I’ve been enamored by hit detection. Shoot them in the leg, they hop about, shoot them in the arm, they drop their gun, shoot them in the head, they’re going down! Part of the reason the first Medal of Honour for the PlayStation was so immersive was because of the reactions of your enemies.
RAGE has that in spades. Enemies run at you full pelt, and then trip over their legs when you pepper them with machine gun fire. They clutch at their faces and their legs kick out in front of them as they fall backwards when you unload a pump action shell into them at close range. Clean headshots leave a headless body to pause momentarily before it slumps to its knees. There are so many animations to the enemy’s death throes, they rarely feel repetitive or inappropriate, and left me with a wide grin after almost every pull of the trigger.
Then there are the upgrades to the weapons, and the various ammo types. A Crossbow with standard bolts, then electric bolts, then explosive bolts, then mind control bolts, which give you a few seconds to guide your prey around as he goes a bit mental and then explodes. Utterly ridiculous, but totally satisfying, and useful in situations where direct fire won’t beat a shielded troop, but his mate next to him can do the dirty work for you.
The simple handgun is useful up until the very last act, with more and more powerful ammo and a scope, it’s never redundant. Then there’s the remote control car bomb, sentry guns and spider sentry bots to create, all of which are really useful and look great.
The bottom line is, it’s not going to be everyone’s idea of a class-A title, its storyline, abrupt ending, and relatively short campaign (8-10 hours) could leave you wanting more.
However, if you read the box you’ll see the ID logo, which might as well say “FPS”, if you go in expecting a blast of a shooter, you’ll be pretty happy with what you get.
If you go in expecting Shakespeare with guns, you’ll be disappointed.
I’m conscious that I haven’t addressed everything in the way that a standard review might, but message me in the comments and I’ll be happy to give you my thoughts on any other elements of the game if you’re in two minds about getting it.Have a game you want to review and fancy yourself as a bit of a writer? Find out how to become a guest blogger. Or you could make a suggestion by following us on those new-fangled social media-thingers Facebook and Twitter.