It’s been four long years since Rage has been in development, the graphics looked amazing and continued to improve throughout the years. They improved so much, in fact, I almost thought it was going to become a PC exclusive. After all the delays ID took to release the game, I started to lose interest thinking the game was doomed to vaporware. Luckily, the game re-surfaced back on the map and ID proved that their long awaited baby was destined for birth. It should come as no surprise that people know ID as pure innovation as they are the fathers of FPS games. Rage feels like ID formula: it has the amazing shooting mechanics, it is graphically one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen, but unlike today’s standards ID is stuck in 1993.
First, I want to note the game’s graphics and how fantastic they look on my 65” TV. This is honestly the best looking game I have ever experienced, the moment you start a new game is when ID has you by the ball sack and tells you to hold on tight. From the lush environments to the beautiful site of the devastated wasteland, it looks to be an electrifying playground full of curiosities. The environments are filled with clutter, it reveals the game’s attention to detail while making the player feel claustrophobic. The game runs at 60 Hz, the amount of detail is incredible and the lighting in the game are fucking fantastic to run a game at such a smooth frame rate. Rage created mega textures to add the best visuals you will ever see on a console and PC. Each area of the game seems fresh and original, the desolate canyons never duplicate, even if some may consider it to be a Fall Out 3 ripoff on steroids.
The game starts off with promise and wonderment (for at least the first 30 seconds), then it’s all stripped away. You wake up from a cryostasis chamber and hear a message from the President about being Earth’s last hope of survival. However, the message fails to tell you why. Stepping outside you are introduced to the beautiful mess that is Rage. This game is like dating a very attractive woman; you get to know her, she seems awesome, and then all of the sudden you start taking off her clothes to find out she’s been wearing a push up bra and jeans with butt implants. There is barely any dialog, people talk to you but you say nothing back. You are the wasteland’s bitch and you have to take it. I feel like ID purposely kept it this way. They weren’t concerned about a story or progression, they just wanted you to kill things and race. They pulled this off quite well, but the game can only look so good until you crave more and realize that you’re never going to get it. ID simply just wanted to show you what their engine could do and they didn’t really care if you wanted a story or not. They wanted you to kill everything that was considered an enemy in very different ways and they pull that off. You really start to have hope later on in the game but you end up with blue balls as the game teases you with bits of possible reasons to why everything is happening. However, it leaves you unsatisfied and angry that there was never a climactic conclusion.
Let’s talk about game play, which in my opinion is one of the best feeling first person shooters I have had the privilege of playing. ID shines with their E-P33N, they have the backing of being one of the first to make a FPS and they shove it all up in your face and never let up. Aiming is spot on, the enemies vary from area to area, and ID does a good job at keeping the quests fresh making them unique in their own right. Even if the game doesn’t give you any desire to keep going, the gameplay does wow you enough to make you want to see what else ID has up their sleeve. The racing in the game is equally as fined tuned for a game focused on the shooting aspect. It’s amazing that playing the racing in this made me feel like I was playing a racing game comparable to Motorstorm Apocalypse, although the tracks are not as big.
Take the graphics as the main focus of this game, as I’ve stated previously that is what grabs your attention. Carmack did some crazy voodoo gypsy magic shit when it came to pulling this game off but it isn’t without flaws. For starters, the game has really delayed and often noticeable texture pop-in, which is very distracting at the start of the game. You do eventually get use to it but what you do you expect with “mega-texture pack” loads. This game wasn’t designed to be on a console so they had to cut corners and do some hat tricks to make it so attractive. There is literally no AA on the console versions so a lot of things have noticeable jaggies. NOTHING in the environment is destructible except beer bottles (collectibles) and crates (which contain collectibles). This is disappointing because when you play games like Battlefield and Kill Zone 3 (which have destructible environments) it makes you feel like you need to have better strategy other than hiding behind an indestructible cardboard box in hopes that the bullets can’t shoot through it. It sucks when a game is this appealing yet so static, I don’t go to strip clubs for this reason. Why go if I can only see it and can’t interact with it. The collectibles are scattered throughout the wasteland which help keep you encouraged to explore until you realize if you missed particular items you cannot go back to get them. I really hope they address this with an update in the future. For example, I was in need of one more schematic in a side quest. I went to the area only to find that the people abandoned the towns, I could no longer complete the quest because there was no way to retrieve the last schematic. This aggravated me so much that it made me not want to get all the other collectibles in the game because if I wanted to get all the trophies, I would be off by one schematic and that would require a new play through. This is very fixable if enough people complain, because then they will release a fix in order to access missed collectibles making exploring the wasteland desirable for trophy/achievements.
Other than the graphics and shooting mechanics, this game really has nothing else going for it. The story is about 8 percent of the entire game, and I mean that, but is that a bad thing? Is ID wrong from making a 60 dollar shooter which is in fact just that a shooter? Are they wrong for giving you a silent protagonist which is everyone’s bitch and for little rhyme or reason is doing everything they tell him to do? However you put it, ID got away with it because they are ID and this would be a lackluster shooter if any other company had done it. For me, I would have liked some type of explanation, I felt like I was an asshole killing every living thing in the wasteland. I would invade their home and kill all of them because I was told to. That didn’t always feel right and often left me with a slight feeling of remorse as I repeatedly used wingsticks to behead all those innocent mutants defending their homes, watching their blood, and hearing their screams. Even though I was smiling the entire time, I felt a little bad inside and that’s what counts. The racing is an afterthought but it still takes a break from all the killing which is a relief. You race to get racing certificates (money) to use only for upgrading your vehicles which will help make traveling the wasteland easier. This formula was fine for the racing mechanic and never really felt forced as upgrading rockets and machine guns were ideal to stay alive traveling to quests. The online competitive component is also racing which is odd considering ID makes shooters. I would have loved to see a team deathmatch mechanic with some type of ranking system which unlocked schematics. I can’t blame ID for making a relatively safe shooter because it works and I feel like only ID would be able to get away with what they did. They put so much effort and art into the game that maybe they knew the beauty would keep people playing.
To conclude this review, I had to ask myself “Was I satisfied?” After all the teasing and blue balling, was I happy with the outcome? The truth is, I wasn’t. The game had enough variation to keep me going but left me frustrated and distraught, I went to bed trying to think of metaphors to explain what the game is comparable to. Right after I beat the game I asked, “Why is the Ark program so important?”, “Who am I and why do I do all the bitch work?”, and “Why am I killing mass amounts of what seem to be innocent people and mutants just defending their homes?”. This game left me with so many unanswered questions. I didn’t want to play 15 plus hours of a game only to leave me frustrated and confused. Why would you leave me waiting and unfinished? You are an evil type of beast ID. You got away with it because you made the game so gorgeous, however, I was blinded by her beauty and in the end she left me robbed and wanting more.
Overall Score: 6.5/10 – While this game was visually amazing, the shortcuts and trickery are soon noticed more and more. Without a story and not being able to go back and find the remaining collectibles, it makes you feel like the RPG element of this game really didn’t matter. Exploration also should have been key to a game in which ID put so much time into making it look amazing. This ends up being a generic shooter at best just a lot better looking then most. Thank you Rage, you raped me of 65 dollars and didn’t even leave a note.