Rage is one of those games that has a lot of big expectations to fill since this was coming from the notorious developer id Software. Notorious because id Software is usually referred to as the originators of the first person shooter genre in video games with games like Wolfenstein, Quake, and DOOM. Three games from the early 90’s that defined the genre and paved way for all the great first person shooters we enjoy today.
I had my own set of expectations, leading up to the release I saw lots of great gameplay footage that made me want the game. The gameplay looked fantastic with crazy mutant enemies coming at you from all angles creating a frenetic sense of oh shit moments while frantically holding them back with your arsenal. The action looked tight, fast paced, and lots of fun.
The game finally comes out and I eagerly dive right in, first reaction is wow, this game looks beautiful. No doubt John Carmack and his team at id Software has worked hard on their new engine, id Tech 5. The planet Earth was struck by the Apophis asteroid that basically destroyed most of world as we know it. You wake up to what looks like a post apocalyptic world, you come from one of many arks that were used to store people for something like a hundred years until all the radiation from the asteroid could dissipate. Coming out of the ark, your first outdoor view is a gorgeous and heavenly skyline of clouds, easily the best looking sky I’ve seen in a game. Too bad its a static sky instead of a real living sky, at least it looks fantastic.
Visually Rage is a work of art.
Everything in the game looks fantastic with a high attention to detail, from the landscapes, level designs, vehicles, weapons, enemies, and especially the characters. The NPC‘s got a good amount of extra attention, each one looks and feels unique with their own style and characteristics that makes them more believable. On some of the characters, the faces are really well done. There is a fairly wide variety of characters throughout the game, each one having their own style and personality. Visually Rage is a work of art. The environments have a lush richness to them, however everything is a static texture. There are many times when I stopped to just look around and stare at the scenery, both the outside world and interior locations.
In the first few hours of playing the game I was starting to feel a little disappointed. By this time I had read many of the reviews on the game which were decent but clearly there was a pattern throughout the reviews showing that the game was missing something. The way the game starts out it feels like there isn’t a lot of substance here, it seems like a slow start, but I think it’s just id’s way of easing you into the game until you build up your armor and weapons, because the game definitely picks up a lot more as you progress along.
By lacking substance I don’t mean the story, although it seems a little thin, but hey, this is a first person shooter and great stories don’t always come through in these types of games. It’s a post apocalyptic Mad Max style western game with some flavors of Blade Runner, Borderlands, and Fallout thrown in to the mix. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an ok story, but nothing that sticks with you or makes you think about it once you’ve turned off the game. I think it’s the racing aspect of the game that’s throwing me off, it feels like it was done by another development team or maybe it was something that was added later in development to fill out the game. The regular driving around the wasteland to and from your missions is good and fun, I don’t mind that.
Before you know it, your running around in a frenzied pace taking out mutants as fast you can
The non-racing missions are real meat of the game, after all id is known for making first person shooter action. Trust me, in Rage, the shooting action is good and it gets better, bigger, and more challenging as you progress along. It can become quite frenetic on some levels later in the game as the mutants start coming at you from all angles and in packs. Before you know it, your running around in a frenzied pace taking out mutants as fast as you can while reloading your weapons and flinging your wingstick, which is very handy to decapitate them. This aspect of the game is clearly growing on me.
There is a decent variety of weapons in the game and you get introduced to new types of weapons and ammo as you progress further into Rage. Aside from your standard fare of a pistol, shotgun, sniper, assault riffle, rocket launcher, you get a cool cross-bow that is handy for stealth take downs. Mixing it up, you can buy and create ammo that will explode or shock enemies to death on contact. Another special one called Mind Control will allow you to temporarily control an enemy, usually walking them into another enemy or a group of them and then exploding. Being able to have different ammo types helps mix it up and makes it fun to experiment on enemies. You can also use your fists, but I haven’t found them nor melee attacks to be very useful. One very useful weapon is the wingstick, it’s basically a three-pronged boomerang of blades that you throw to decapitate enemies running at you. It works pretty well and even better when upgraded. Once you get the hang of using this, you find it very helpful, basically you always have dual weapons.
There are some RPG style elements to the game, you can engineer items once you get schematics. A few of the items, an RC bomb car, a sentry turret, and more importantly sentry spider bots spice up the game play and help give you an advantage when you’re getting overwhelmed. These are small deployable spider bots with a mini-gun attached to them. They become very handy as you get into some of the more challenging levels, they can crawl over most things and they hunt down any living enemies. The cool thing is when they get close to enemies they’ll do a jump attack and take them out with a melee style attack. It’s awesome to see them in action. When there are no more enemies they’ll follow you around like little puppies to the next area until they are either destroyed or you break them apart for parts. Unfortunately when you break them apart, you only get like one or two of the original five parts. Seems like you get punished for breaking down any of the items you engineer but don’t need to use at the moment, especially wasteful for turrets as you can’t move them once they have been setup.
they will jump off the walls, crawl up on the ceilings, jump over cover, and dodge your bullets like crazy
The AI in the standard mutant enemies is fantastic, they will utilize the entire environment to get to you and keep you from having an easy shot on them. They don’t always take the straight clear path, instead and quite often, they will jump off the walls, crawl up on the ceilings, jump over cover, and dodge your bullets like crazy. It keeps the game challenging as your wasting your bullets because of their rapid movement while utilizing all aspects of the environment to get to you. I say standard mutant enemies as the bigger ones don’t do this, but some of the bigger ones can be fairly challenging, just in their own way. The non-mutant enemy AI is fairly good too, they will stay in cover and pop out to get you,when they get down to just one last guy in a room, they’ll retreat and regroup with more friends before you enter the next area. Overall they seem pretty aggressive, but the mutants are what makes the game fun, they are nuts!
The levels are pretty well done, given your typical post apocalyptic destroyed and desolate world there is a good amount of thought put into the level design. There are some parts that just feel massive and epic when you walk into them, while others feel tight and claustrophobic. Needless to say they look amazing, everything in the game looks amazing as long as you’re not looking at it up close, then it looks a bit pixellated and blurry, but from a distance, its fantastic. Combine this with great lighting effects, some solid sound effects, and creepy music helps give the game a good amount of atmosphere. As with most games these days, you want to enjoy this on a big screen and full surround sound setup. Turn the lights down, turn the sound up, and get sucked in for a fun ride.
Rage is a fantastic game when you focus on the heart of the game which is the first person shooting. To me the racing part could have been dropped, and just add more quests to kill mutants and bad guys. The gun play is tight, fast, and frantic with a good amount of variety in enemies to keep you on your toes. There is also a decent variety in the levels they are fun to navigate with a few very nice set pieces. Top that off with some fantastic visuals and graphics and you’ve got a solid game. Overall Rage is a very enjoyable game once you get deep enough into it and focus on the shooting.
Rage Launch Video
- Images courtesy of Dead End Thrills, see Rage collection for over 100 screens in HD resolution.
- Rage Official Site
- id Software
- Rage on Amazon
- Game Informer review (9.0)
- IGN review (8.5)
- GameTrailers review (9.0)
Have you played Rage? What are your thoughts on it? Please feel free to share your thoughts below and thanks for reading.