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RAGE Game Review

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RAGE Game Review

Let’s clear something up straight away. As much as RAGE’s developers would apparently like you to believe prior to its release, it is definitely not ‘just’ a first person shooter. No, RAGE is something different, not quite a fully fledged RPG like the Fallout games but something more akin to the FPS/RPG hybrid made popular by Borderlands. Make no mistake, RAGE is nowhere near the gun statistics or skill trees that Borderlands has, it’s definitely a FPS at heart but it certainly bears more than a passing resemblance to both of them, but more on that later.
RAGE’s premise is simple, in the year 2029; Earth is hit by the asteroid Apophis causing devastation on a planetary scale. The opening cut scene of the impact is interspersed with vague information of a last ditch attempt by a government organisation to save humanity by placing humans in cryogenic sleep in so called ‘Arks’ until a time when the planet is habitable once more. You can be forgiven for thinking that the story sounds cliché and unfortunately, the narrative direction throughout the game rarely improves. The main reason for the lack of direction in the story is simple; it’s not until around the halfway point of the game that the main antagonists are actually introduced. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if anything the games nameless player character had done prior to this point had felt in any way of importance to the fictional world.
You begin play by stepping out of one of the aforementioned Arks into a seemingly unpopulated, apocalyptic wasteland after 106 years in ‘cryosleep’. Almost immediately you are ambushed by a group of bandits who are promptly dispatched by a local from a nearby settlement. The apocalypse it seems, didn’t wipe out humanity after all, who would have guessed? After introducing himself as one Dan Hagar (voiced by John Goodman) and recognising you as an Ark survivor he offers to drive you back to his settlement. You might not remember any of this opening however, if you, like me were instead mesmerised by the visual beauty of the game.
RAGE’s graphics really are outstanding and probably some of the best you can find on any current gen game. The art style isn’t massively dissimilar to Borderlands’ cel-shaded influenced style but still retains a more gritty realistic edge. The games atmosphere is also helped immensely by some impressive lighting and scenery shadow effects. However, this visual prowess can sometimes feel like smoke and mirrors as the game does suffer at times from some significant texture popping on surrounding scenery. This was less prevalent with the game installed but still noticeable. The textures themselves also appear quite blurry when close-up but this is hardly surprising and doesn’t detract from the immersion factor. 
Upon arriving at the Hagar settlement you are given a basic rundown of humanity’s situation in the world and are told that you are wanted by a remnant government group called the Authority. The Authority however, as mentioned, are not to be seen until the game’s halfway point. Instead, Hagar sends you on a list of errands to help his people and other surrounding settlements. One such quest has your character entering a bandit’s hideout to retrieve some car parts for your very own car. The opening missions serve to teach you the different mechanics of the game, and this is where the similarities with other RPG games become apparent.
One of these elements is the crafting system. Items found in missions or around the game world can be collected to create different ammo types or gadgets such as sentry turrets or wingsticks, which are hugely satisfying to use. The item looting and crafting feel like simplified versions of the gameplay elements found in the Fallout series. Likewise, the mission structure and game world feel very similar to Borderlands; with each mission taking place in a separate area connected to the hub world where the towns and shops reside. You travel to and from these areas in your own vehicle which can be upgraded through races. The Racing mechanics are surprisingly refined and clearly not a last minute gameplay decision. However, if racing isn’t your thing you’re by no means forced to participate with only two races being required for the main story, the rest being side missions.
Side missions however, are one of the weak points of the game. With the exception of the odd mission that takes place in a unique location, most of these missions entail covering some civilians with a sniper rifle whilst they escape or task you with journeying back to a location you have already cleared to collect some arbitrary item. These features may be more simple than the prospective games that have inspired them but they feel streamlined to fit in with a hardcore FPS experience rather than tacked on to cater to a wider audience.
So the gunplay, what’s it like? Pretty satisfying; the guns on offer all have their uses in different situations and the standard set of weapons are all there. The pistol, shotgun and assault rifle are all available weapons which are enhanced by the different ammo types available. Particularly satisfying are the so called ‘pop-rockets’ for the shotgun which reduce almost any normal enemy to a pile of visceral mess. Each weapon has four different ammo types and they all have quite different effects. Other weapons such as the crossbow are a hoot to use. Electric bolts in particular are useful environmental weapons which can kill multiple enemies if fired into a pool of water.
RAGE certainly ticks a lot of boxes but it’s by no means a perfect game, other than the texture popping mentioned earlier, RAGE suffers from a rather archaic save system. The game does have an auto-save feature but it is far too sporadic. At one point in the game, I played through a thirty minute long section of the game only to die and be taken all the way back to the start of the level. Probably the games weakest area though has to be the story; only by the time you reach the halfway point of the game will you really feel like the story is going anywhere and begin to show interest in why the Authority is after you. The games ending is also unsatisfying but expected.
The multiplayer racing matches are a nice but niche approach to a FPS saturated market and the Co-op missions are substantial enough to be enjoyed with a friend but it’s clearly the single player that’s the main attraction. RAGE is a blast to play; it has refined rather than innovated in terms of new features and it may have some old throwbacks to a simpler time but Id Software has created an enjoyable experience. If you enjoy first person shooters or even some RPG’s then RAGE is definitely worth a look. Just don’t buy it expecting a deep and involving narrative.
8/10

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