Review by Das_Regal
"Late to the Party: A Very Confused Review of RAGE"
It's 7:00 AM and I'm on the verge of finishing RAGE. I'm feeling a large bout of fatigue -- not from a lack of sleep -- but because the game's mechanics have been stretched to the point of breaking and I don't want to play anymore. I know it's almost over, and sadly the only thing that keeps me playing is the desire to say I finished it and the thought of writing a review explaining the complicated relationship I have with this game. I push through, finish, and am left feeling truly apathetic. The beginning of RAGE is what stole my heart, the end broke it.
Now that you have an idea of how I felt emotionally, onto the details in each category!
When I first started out I was blown away. The character models, animations, environments, and guns look pretty damn good. It didn't take long for stupid performance problems to crop up however, and after awhile the glaring issue of muddy textures got worse and worse.
The game is pretty throughout, or so I've been told, if you have a remarkably expensive rig that can run it with everything cranked to the max. It's depressing how poorly optimized it is. With zero anti-aliasing, 1080p, and detailed textures switched off, my PC (Phenom II 955 BE Quad Core, 8 GB RAM, GeForce 460 GTX) had noticeable screen tearing and stuttering at times. Sometimes the stuttering was so subtle that I was confused about whether or not it was actually stuttering or if it had to do with the bob animation of my pistol. I'm still not sure quite what happened there. Kinda like the game's story.
While it's not exactly terrible, there aren't really any memorable characters you'll come to have any attachment to even if the voice work is entertaining at times and the characters are well-animated and modeled. The overarching storyline itself is such standard boiler-plate that I doubt you'll even come close to getting emotionally invested in it. The ending is unsatisfying, and there aren't any real big twists. It's like they made zero effort here.
There is some decent ambiance in the beginning however. There's a wild-west feeling to some of the towns, a real sense of survival, and the enemies you fight against really do a great job of feeling unique. This isn't enough to rescue the story, but it does make the setting pretty damn immersive and enjoyable at times. Unfortunately, every time you're starting to get immersed, the technical issues crop up and break the fourth wall. It's hard to stay in the moment.
There are a lot of unrealized ideas in RAGE. They planted a couple of seeds of a more sophisticated plot that they never followed up on in any significant capacity. In the end, a lot of the things you do in the game are little more than ad hoc justifications to keep the scenarios moving along so you can shoot some new gun new at some new thing.
The music is perfectly passable but entirely forgettable. The voice acting is decent enough as to not be annoying. The gun sounds are pretty damn good. And the things your enemies say are varied and interesting enough (partly because of how many different enemy types there are). The sound work here isn't stellar, but it gets the job done without making any missteps.
I'd have to say the game starts out as a 10 and gradually decreases to a 7. At first the crafting mechanic is novel, ammo is reasonably scarce, you're getting new things all the time, and it feels like there's a lot to strive for. Sadly, about halfway in the amount of new stuff you're getting drops off hugely and a little bit further than that the game essentially runs out of tricks for the most part.
Towards the end it does the same thing most games do: runs out of ways to think horizontally and instead starts thinking vertically. Instead of coming up with creative challenges, things just soak bullets better and deal more damage. It's a snooze fest when it takes 3 up close shotgun shells to kill something and if you die you basically get 2 free revives.
The races get repetitive so quickly that after you finish the first "cup" you're really only forcing yourself to keep doing them so that you can buy vehicle upgrades with the "racing certificates" that you win. AKA this isn't fun.
On a plus note, the gunplay is extremely good, the way targets react to being shot is very satisfying, and everything you get in the game tool-wise is fun to use at least once.
Final Score: 7.0
I always weight the final average so that whatever I come up with best reflects how I feel about the game. It is good, but not great -- even if it starts out that way.
If ID ever gets around to fixing the technical issues and releasing the mod kit, the game easily becomes an 8 or higher in my book.
I'm not holding my breath though.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/16/12
Game Release: Rage (US, 10/03/11)
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