Review by Archmonk Iga
"After experiencing the sum of its parts, it is easy to understand why Rage is everything but its own game."
Sometimes I feel that the really great FPS's of this generation have spoiled us. Half-Life 2: Episodes 1 and 2, Bioshock, Metroid Prime 3, and Fallouts 3 and New Vegas offered loads of innovation and hours of memories. I had had an itch the past few weeks. I was feeling jumpy in regards to the games I wanted to play. I picked up Bayonetta again and put it down not because I didn't want to play it, but because it wasn't scratching my particular itch. I wanted to shoot things. I didn't care what the hell I shot at, I just wanted to feel a gun (AKA a PS3 controller) in my hands and I wanted to wear out my R1 button. I looked all over the internet for what could satisfy me, and ended up with Rage. And while the first four or so hours my trigger-happiness was unstoppable, it wasn't long before the game's mundanity slapped me in the face. Rage is pretty on the outside, but the inside
well, there really isn't even much of an inside to speak of. Within minutes you will realize how similar Rage feels to so many wonderful FPS's that came before it these past few years. It's Fallout 3, meshed with Borderlands, meshed with Bioshock, meshed with Half-Life 2, meshed with a little bit of Red Steel 2. It is finely polished just as those five games are, yet it feels barren, pointless, and ultimately unoriginal. Rage is those five games, but it is not its own game.
After an asteroid hits Earth, humanity is barely hanging on. Small communities struggle with hoards of bandits and mutants scouring the landscapes. Our nameless hero awakens in an Ark, with the responsibility of rebuilding and protecting the human race.
The story is representative of the setting in that it is a complete wasteland. The mysteries are either left unanswered or given silly conclusions. The characters could have been interesting if they actually did something other than order the God-awful protagonist around. The setting is pulled straight from any post-apocalyptic game you have already played. The ending is a joke. The protagonist is nameless, featureless, silent, and utterly boring. Silence is okay in a FPS's protagonist (play any of the games mentioned above), but when there is no motive, no drive for this what's-his-face, the plot becomes meaningless. The story moves forward by random nobodies telling you where to go and what to do when you get there. It has an excellent façade that tries to hint at the contrary, but it's not fooling anyone.
Rage is a beauty to play through if you are a stickler for great graphical engines. Even for the biggest critics, it is hard to find too many faults in the game's visuals. It is the single original aspect of the game, and obviously is the part that id Software spent the most time on. This Wasteland may mimic every other Wasteland we've seen in videogames, but at least it looks pretty. Textures take a few seconds to fully load, and getting up close to objects and landmarks gives you some fuzzies, but everything else is top of the line.
Twangy, wheat-in-mouth gee-tar strumming is the soundtrack's most memorable aspect. Voice acting is satisfactory though even the characters sound unimpressed with this game they inhabit. I must admit though, those loud-as-hell gun noises are pretty damn glorious.
If you want to play an FPS that plays by the rules, then Rage is for you. It is fifteen-ish hours of an FPS comfort zone, with solid mechanics and almost zero innovation. You can engineer with materials you find in the Wasteland (sound familiar?). You loot enemies you've killed (ditto). You accept a quest, complete it, return to the person who offered it to you, rinse and repeat. There are a couple of lame minigames. Despite the Wasteland's vastness, your freedom in it is surprisingly limited.
Let's be fair here, though. The death mechanic is pretty sweet, using the joysticks to regain health after getting killed. The card game can be fun if you want to stop shooting things for a minute (in an FPS right). The driving is tight and fast-paced. The guns feel great. The multiplayer is fine. The button layout is very comfortable. Hell, everything is comfortable. But none of this content is enough to make this FPS stand out among the others.
Other than the heavy emphasis on vehicle gameplay, there is nothing you haven't seen here before. When you add on the fact that the Wasteland itself is completely devoid of personality, any desire to beat this game simply exists because it feels like every other FPS that you love.
Despite Rage's total lack of individuality in almost every way, there is a lot to do in it. For an FPS the campaign may last you quite a while, with side-quests and secrets all over the place. Multiplayer is also solid, and for Rage's biggest fans it will be what brings them back again and again. If you love Rage and want to see and do everything you can in it, then get ready for around 20 hours of gameplay. If you're not fooled by its imitative nature, then one playthrough will probably be more than enough.
REPLAY VALUE: 6/10
With the abundance of FPS's out there today, it's tough to find one that you can truly separate from the rest. They all claim to do something different in this way or that, but most of them are more of the same thing. I thought Rage would be an exception, but it never leaves its safe zone. It takes bits and pieces from other phenomenal FPS's and paints a pretty canvas over the whole thing. It is rehashed in nearly every way, and while it accomplishes what it sets out to do, it doesn't set out to accomplish too much.
Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/11/12
Game Release: Rage (US, 10/04/11)
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