Review by therandomdot

"Feels like a tech demo"

Typical ID game... feels like a tech demo.

I don't review graphics, sound effects and other superficial stuff unless it's really garbage. Suffice it to say, all of that was great and got the job done. In other words, that stuff isn't swaying my judgement of the game at all.

What I'm focused on is actual game play, plot, etc. Things that matter to me.

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My biggest beef is that while the game was entertaining, looks great, plays good ... it felt pretty sparse in regards to actual content. You can grind through it in about a day, and that includes exploring the mini-games, races and other misc stuff. You spend a lot of time back-tracking over old levels and driving around the same old outdoor areas. Then, right when it seems the game is ramping up into third act it's basically over.

To contribute to this lacking feeling, all of the levels, areas, etc have these artificial boundaries that greatly restrict where you can go and what you can do.

You'll feel like you're driving down corridors most of the time, b/c there's always cliff walls or even just some conveniently placed rocks obstructing you from driving out and exploring the wide-open desert. And it's a shame, too, b/c the scenery looks amazing. So, it's sort of like insult to injury when you can look out over this impressive vista, and realize that it makes you long to drive out amongst it, but you can't. For instance, you start by emerging out overlooking a rock quarry. But, you can't wander down into it....ever. A really great-looking rock quarry, and all it is is a set piece for you to stare at. Ugh.

Likewise with run-n-gun levels, you'll feel like a bad-ass taking out all the enemies, then feel like a complete wuss when you can't even jump over small piles of rubble or other debris blocking your way. There's always some invisible, artificial barricade preventing you from exploring too much. So, again, you're wandering through these levels seeing some interesting terrain... oops, sorry, we can't let you walk out there.

Again, you feel like you're a dog on a leash, and all of it contributes to a feeling that ID spent so much time fluffing up their game engine (as usual) that they didn't spend enough time on creating actual content for the flipping game. Hence why I felt like I was playing more of a tech demo than an actual game.

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The premise / plot of the game seems interesting, but feels like a rehash of Fallout (which seemed like a rehash of the old Wasteland DOS game). It was interesting, but a lot of the times I felt like I was merely playing Fallout 4: Now With Cars. They could have done some interesting things with the plot, but instead it was mostly dumbed down to "fetch me a rock, deliver this toothpick, kill this bad guy" BS we see in all games these days. You're rescued by some guy from the start, and it just acts as an excuse to put you into the errand boy role for the entire game going forward where others dictate what you can do at all times rather than just letting you go out on your own and figure things out.

It was also pretty typical in that whole towns would be fearful of a mutant or bandit problem, but then they'd only send you in to solve the problem. Obviously you're a bad-ass, but c'mon. In some situations, NPC's would join in, which made it seem more realistic (IE: that the problem was a big one, and required more folks to get off their duff to help solve it). But most problems are hard to take seriously when they say "omg, we have this big problem, but instead of sending in a bunch of guys to solve it, we're just going to rest all our hopes on ... you. Good Luck!"

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One thing I was pleasantly surprised about was how well both the run-n-gun and driving gameplay were. It seems modus operandi for games these days to mesh different game styles together (mostly FPS with vehicle piloting portions), and usually it's done in jack-of-all-trades master-of-none fashion. Rage pulled off both very well. Which, unfortunately, just made it even more annoying you couldn't just wander around further into the wasteland to do such, instead being narrowly confined as to where you can go.

The driving was solid, and felt good. The racing mini-games were also entertaining, but the rocket rally game was a huge annoyance. In that game, you have to wait for a spot on the field to highlight, then get to it as fast as you can to score on it. The spots show up randomly around the map, so you can try camping an area and hoping more spots show up near you, but it just seems like so much luck rather than skill is involved.

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Speaking of mini games, the card game seems spotty. You build decks from cards you mostly find. It's like Magic the Gathering, but they don't give you much of a clue what some cards do. There's a difference between melee cards and ones that can attack ranged, but they don't mark the cards to let you know which is which. So, you pick a card for you deck of a guy holding a gun. You think it's ranged. Turns out it's melee. Um...wut?

Cards also have damage output and hit points. But, I noticed that while the computer always did the damage marked on its card, my cards would do 1/2 damage or less. I have a mutant card with damage of 4 attacking melee on the card across from it. I only do 2 damage. WTF? I don't know why my cards were consistently hobbled like that, but it made me lose a couple of matches and basically put me off of the card game entirely. I don't appreciate it when there's some unknown rule that isn't explained to me, or when it feels like the computer is just blatantly cheating.

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Moving on to the "Anarchy Edition" extras ... I got the AE extras plus the sewers DLC. Quite frankly, I hardly noticed any of it. The AE gives you like an extra weapon (double-barrel shotgun), armor (crimson armor, which is a combo of all 3 others), vehicle (rat rod buggy, which has a bit better armor I think), and something else. You can live without it. I never used the double-barrel shotgun. I used the rat rod, but you eventually upgrade to a diff vehicle, so no big whoop. The armor was useful, b/c it combined the perks of the other 3, but you can live without it.

The sewer DLC was pointless. I hardly ever noticed sewers. And, the ones I did notice were like a minute jaunt out of my way to just plow through then get back to whatever I was doing. If I had paid money for this stuff, I would have been majorly upset. But, thankfully, I bought my copy of Rage for 1/2 price, and it was Anarchy Edition and came with codes for both the AE and Sewer DLC for free. Your mileage may vary.

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As a final aside, I should mention the bugs. Some folks experienced a lot when the game first came out. My game was fully patched via Steam, and the only bug I got was the game not starting sometimes. Yeah...that's a bit glaring. Click on icon to start game, and it locks up and doesn't start. So, go into task manager, stop the game process...try again. This happened about 1/3 of the time when trying to start the game. Otherwise, very little buggage baggage to be seen. I did notice a little bit of texture pop-in, but nothing "zomg! this is horrendous!"

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Overall, it was a great tech demo. For $60, I would have felt ripped off. But, I only paid $20 for it, and felt I got a decent amount of game play for my money. Still felt like the game was lacking in content, and more could have been done with the plot. It sucks when you're playing a game and think "yeah, this is starting to get good!" and then it's ends in another 20 minutes. It's like sitting in on a movie thinking "that was a great first half, looks like this second half is gonna get ... whoa, why is the movie ending?!"

If you like post-apoc games or survival games, then this one is worth picking up. Just don't get your expectations set too high, and you'll enjoy yourself.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 04/11/12

Game Release: Rage (Anarchy Edition) (US, 10/04/11)


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