Having just completed my first ID software game, I decided to follow with writing my first review too.
Rage is a First-Person Shooter with RPG elements set in a semi-open world. First I want to stress that point, it truly is an FPS. If you purchased the game expecting the next Fallout or Borderlands you will probably be disappointed. But for what Rage does, it does it pretty well.
After being sent on a few small errands you soon get a chance to tuck into the gunplay fully. On this front Rage delivers perfectly. The shooting, from the sounds right down to the controls are really tight. Hit detection is fantastic, and enemies will writhe in pain from the limb you shoot them in. The shotgun in particular has a truly powerful feeling to it and as such I found myself switching back to this weapon almost any time I had ammo for it, but this came with a side effect. I found that the game including RPG elements, such as upgrading your weapons, I actually ended up pinned down to the same weapons regularly and scavenging/buying ammo only for those particular guns. On the FPS side of things that is actually not a good result, often I would take whatever weaponry is passed my way but in Rage it feels as if it encourages you to start picking favourites early on. I feel this would have been more of a complement to an RPG focused game rather than an FPS with RPG elements.
As for vehicular combat, there is plenty to customize with races being your main method of unlocking upgrades, so it is never hard to find a use for your ride. But a lack of being able to aim outside your direct front view hinders the combat and makes it feel very stiff, although the vehicles appear to be where 90% of the physics in the game are applied so it is an appreciated touch. Without it the game would feel very planted.
This brings me to my next point, the game is very stationary. Other than a few items you could pick up, that can be shot to pieces, there really isn't much that moves other than your character an the AI. In this day and age that feels like a big step back in FPS games. Just having a box that can move when shot at makes taking cover that bit more dynamic.
Unfortunately some of these disappointments carry over to other areas. One of the biggest disappointments for me was a lack of bosses, they are there but not in enough quantity. Their timing feels awkwardly placed upon completion. I felt sprung upon by the ending as well. Just when I thought it was starting the credits rolled after seven and a half hours of play time. The ending was not remotely satisfying either which just added to the disappointment.
But what the game lacks in areas it does try and make up for with either visuals, art direction, or gameplay. When treated more like a twitch based corridor shooter the game comes into its own a lot more. The gadgets, unlike the weapons, encourage the user to mix it up a lot more, and are certainly effective enough in combat to warrant use alongside the guns. For example, the sickle is very good when being outnumbered at close range by enemies with guns, where it would take a good few shots to take down a heavily armoured guard, the sickle will do it often in one well placed hit, leaving you to focus on thinning the numbers.
The AI also do appear to be a step up from your average AI. beside leaping into a horrifying stance on door frames, they also do tend to fall back when you start to taste victory. This was impressive to watch but it appears to have been highlighted to the player by a certain level design and is not as evident in the rest of the game.
With gameplay aside I shall move onto graphics. An area, much like a lot of the game, I felt was a double-edged sword. The game looks amazing, from a distance. It is inconsistent in many ways. The most obvious would have to be the way in which mega-textures (A feature of the new ID Tech 5 Engine that rage runs on) actually operates. It appears to do minimal to no downscaling on distant objects. This looks fantastic from afar but when up close many textures are not impressive at all, as the overall resolution of the objects are actually rather low. One of the more unusual design choices is that low and high resolution textures are often connected to each other, making it all the more noticeable.
Another bit of odd behaviour on the graphical front is how the engine only draws what is directly in your view at any given point at high resolution, anything else is retained in low resolution until turning and often you catch a view of textures loading up, it has been lessened since the patch but it has not been fully eliminated.
But for the larger majority of gameplay the graphics are impressive, especially when driving through the wasteland. And the world is less familiar to other post-apocalyptic settings seen in games than I first expected. It certainly has its own vibe and identity. Also thanks to mega-textures, there are lots of dynamic objects in the game, and repeated textures are very rare which certainly makes a change from your average games design. It is only a shame that there are a few hiccups to hold back the visuals, which otherwise look stunning. But the low resolution textures are by far the biggest issue, since being a shooter you spend a lot of time viewing your cover up close. And as such cannot help but notice it.
The sound is more consistent, guns sound how you would want them to in a futuristic post-apocalyptic shooter. Powerful as hell and perhaps a little bit D.I.Y. Mutants and such manage to churn out some rather disturbing noises too leaving you watching all corners to see where they rush you from. In combat the soundtracks play toward the tense atmosphere of being rushed in such ways too, and overall it creates for a very satisfying experience. When things get going in Rage they really make sure you feel it. The side of the audio that felt more underplayed was atmospheric music, the wasteland wasn't designed for exploring on foot and you can tell in the audio when attempting to. However the soundtracks for the towns are rather satisfying and do make the town come to life that bit more. There is no soundtrack that stuck in my head unfortunately.
The online mode, Deathrace, sounded like it could make for a lot of fun as a 'Mad Max' reminiscent style of game mode. Personally it felt more of a tacked on experience, In which I only personally managed to have a quick romp on. I could not see myself returning to it fast. However I also do not enjoy many forms of online play, And I can see the online could have potential, But a deathmatch mode would have helped to draw more players in to the MP aspect which is currently lacking in the player count.
Overall Rage is a good game with some stunning visuals and fun, if slightly basic gameplay. A few hitches here and there hold back what could have been a much better game, I only hope if there is a sequel, They expand upon what they created without having to take much, if anything away.