Review by link4824

"A game with so much beauty, but with very little to do..."

This here is a gamer that was never spoiled by the revolutions that were Doom and Quake. Both titles were before my time, and while I've never really taken the time to go back and experience them, I can't deny how influential they've been on the industry. Receiving a variety of Best of E3 awards and recognitions, Rage, developed by the same breakthrough company as the aforementioned titles, id Software, brings a few new tricks to the table, but I don't quite think it can live up to the descriptor “groundbreaking”...

In the not-so-distant future, the Apophis asteroid hits Earth, throwing the planet into an apocalyptic wasteland full of bandits and mutants. Before the rock hit the Earth, the population launched the Ark Program, which consisted of the usual deal: bury a massive cryogenic depot and freeze enough humans to carry on civilized life when the planet becomes hospitable again. You are one of those chosen people, awoken and thrust into the wasteland one hundred six years later: the Ark Survivor.

Rage gets the standard first-person procedure. You get a variety of weapons to choose from. Not too many like in heavy shooter games like Call of Duty or Halo, but a healthy variety all the same: an assault rifles, a pistol, a shotgun, a sniper, a rocket launcher and a crossbow in addition to a couple grenade variants and the intriguing new Wingstick, a boomerang-esque projectile that is just an absolute blast to use. The games doesn't offer variants on any of these save the assault rifle and using them all is pretty straight-forward for FPS vets. But Rage didn't stop there either; adding variety to your simple weapon classes, you'll come across a number of different ammunition types during play. For instance, Fat Boy rounds double the effectiveness of you pistol, Pop Rockets turn your shotgun into a miniature rocket launcher and Mind-Control Bolts give you control of an enemy for a short period of time before they detonate.

Equiping them, on the other hand, is a bit of a chore as you're only allowed four weapon slots for ease of access. This allows you to cycle weapons with a simple button press while you can select a specific one of the four by holding RB and pushing a direction, which also allows you to change ammo types on the fly. It should be kept in mind that you can equip any weapon at anytime through the pause menu, but doing so is a nuisance when there could have been a circle wheel to allow ease of access for all weapons.

On a similar note, there is a multitude of support items to equip from grenades to bandages to wingsticks to sentry bots. Again, you're only allowed four spots to equip items, and depending on you play style, that may be more or less than enough. I found myself always keeping bandages equip for heated battles (which occupy much of the action), as well as grenades and wingsticks, leaving a single slot that was constantly being changed as the situation required different items (one mission relies heavily on EMP grenades while another will rely on Remote Controlled Car Bombs), a problem easily fixed by mapping a dedicated grenade button to LT as opposed to the Aim Down the Sights feature I so rarely used.

Gameplay in Rage can become very monotonous. Right from the start, mission structure is brought down to a simple formula: start mission, go to destination, shoot up bad guys, activate switch/steal item, go back and turn in. It's a simple structure and the game's handful of missions rarely deviate from it. Adding to the problem, Rage's Wasteland overworld is huge. It is fortunate they included vehicles to get around because simply walking from one location to another could easily take hours, even if you had infinite sprint. That doesn't change how boring it can be driving from one location to another anyway. As I said, the Wasteland is huge, and driving around can still be a chore, especially with bandits gunning you down the whole way. And boy is there a lot of driving. Simply put, navigating the Wasteland can become pretty boring really fast.

Staying on the subject of navigation, a game of this size would do well with a map, and while you do have a minimap in the corner of you HUD while on the Wasteland, there is no way to look at it up close; that little map is all you get. Adding to the frustration, when you're in a location outside the Wasteland, the minimap disappears entirely, leaving you with no way at all to navigate. This becomes bothersome quickly, especially when you arrive in new towns and can't find the Sheriff's Office, leaving you to aimlessly wander around town until you stumble into it.

Because of these reasons, there are times when Rage can become frustratingly difficult, even on the Normal difficulty setting. However, to it's credit, the Artificial Intelligence is actually very intelligent. They'll run and hide from grenades, duck behind cover from bullets and dive out of the way of wingsticks. They can also take quite a bit of punishment before dying and some enemies move fast enough to keep you on your toes.

Now I'll never be one to judge a video game on its graphics, but even I cannot deny how beautiful Rage looks. The amount of detail put into the environments is astounding and it leaves everything with a very realistic look, even on a standard definition television. The frame rate is beautifully smooth no matter what is going on at the time. It shouldn't come to any surprise that Rage takes full advantage of the two discs that come along with it.

The audio meets the standards: the guns sound like guns, the grenades make explosions, and the AI shouts out orders to itself. Rage didn't do anything good or bad with its audio, leaving me with a shrug and a modest “move along.”

The Verdict: 7
Worth a rental

In the end, I can safely say Rage is an absolute blast to play...once. Maybe twice for achievements/trophies. But once you get to the end, you may just end up shelving the game for a while. With no deep co-op to bring you and your buddies back and a lackluster multiplayer easily shadowed by Halo of Duty, there really isn't anything to bring you back to Rage besides the beautiful scenery and fun running and gunning, and at the end of the day, that isn't enough to warrant more than a rental or bargain bin.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/25/11

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

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