Review by iAmTheTot

"Rage Against the Authority"

Rage comes from a name that pioneered first person shooters in the early nineties. Legendary id Software titles like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake defined a newly emerging genre that we oh so often take for granted in the twenty-ten's. First person shooters are a dime a dozen these days, but surely a company so in tune with the genre can still make a stand-out hit... right?

id Software isn't exactly known for new IPs. In the years leading up to Rage's release the company had only been releasing sequels and remakes of their big established franchises: Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake (with a little bit of Commander Keen thrown in there too). And when id decides to try a new IP, they really pull out all the stops; the id Tech 5 engine was first showcased playing a very early version of Rage in 2007, and is the first game to use the engine. So we have a legend of the genre using a brand new game engine to produce a new IP – what could go wrong?

The first thing you're likely to notice when you start up Rage and reach the title menu is the outstanding views the game can offer us by using id's new engine. After a brief opening cinematic explaining that Earth has been nearly obliterated by a hulking heap of space rock, the player awakes in a stasis pod to the voice of the facility's AI. Something's not quite right; you're the only one to come out of the pods and everyone else is dead. Exiting the small room, the player is met with the glare of the beating sun – and not much else.

The player is quickly introduced to Dan Hagar who explains some plot basics to the player: the world's a lot different now, an organization called The Authority calls most of the shots these days, and what they don't control is ravaged by bandits and mutants. Alright, so it's not the most original post-apocalyptic plot you've ever heard, but it actually pulls it off very smoothly for the most part with an original twist here or there.

The game is open-linear, and by that I mean there's a very linear main questline, but you don't have to do it until you want to. The player is free to explore the world to their heart's content, but to not much of an end. There are some collectibles and the like, but free exploration is hardly ever actually rewarded as much of the map is intimately involved with either the main story, or a side quest (which usually just entails revisiting a main story location with a different objective). It's so linear that enemy spawns are identical each playthrough, regardless of difficulty.

But Rage definitely takes a departure from the FPS norm in a few departments. A quirky selection of guns, each with varying types of ammo, and an arsenal of wildly entertaining gadgets like “Spider Bots” or “Wing Sticks” (all of which can be made on the fly, given you have the correct components) almost always leads to a multitude of methods for felling your foes. id didn't stop there; the addition of hectic over-the-top vehicle warfare and races coupled with everything else give Rage enough flavour to stand on its own two feet as a unique FPS experience, from a gameplay perspective.

Rage is often hailed as a visual masterpiece (even I admitted it's likely to the be the first standout thing you notice), but in reality what should really be hailed is id's new id Tech 5 engine. The character models are good and much of the design is quality, but the textures are par for what you'd expect in this day and age and, often, are even below par. What's so standout is that Rage is likely to be the smoothest game you've ever experienced on a console – I'm serious. Little to no tearing and through my entire play not a single frame reduction.

The game's music was forgettable enough – maybe I was just too busy shooting bandits in the face to notice, but it's still not a good trait. The voice acting, conversely, is quite solid. Some names like John Goodman, Claudia Black, Nolan North, and Phil LaMarr may jump out at you – I particularly enjoyed Goodman's performance portraying something that wasn't a cartoon.

Investing in a new IP is always a risk, even when a company does it with a genre they're very familiar with; even when a company is using a newly developed (by themselves) game engine. While Rage tries to appeal to as much of an audience as possible, many of its sort of tacked on features fall short (like the coop missions, or online vehicle warfare). But Rage succeeds where id is most comfortable: single-player experience, and innovation in gameplay. The side missions may be paltry and the gadgets may be arguably unnecessary, when the player really embraces all the features Rage has to offer it definitely provides an experience they won't get from the other dime-a-dozen shooters on the market.

Graphics: Par or sub-par textures in the smoothest game you will ever play on console – really.

Sound: Forgettable music, but solid voice acting from some interesting characters. Gunplay is satisfying loud.

Plot: Post-apocalyptic plot has a lot of potential but is extremely subdued and underplayed – as the credits roll, you may ask “...what?”

Gameplay: Gunplay dominates, but don't be afraid to check out the awesome gadgets. Vehicle warfare and races play a decent role but don't intrude too much on the core FPS gameplay.

Length/Replay Value: Linear storyline with occasional side content should lead to a play of around 20 hours. With a seriously next-to-nonexistent online playerbase, you'll probably play this once and be done with it unless you go through on a harder difficulty.

Yea or Nay? I'd have to say yea for fans of first person shooters. The game offers something new to the table, which isn't easy to do these days in this genre.

Final score: 7.4/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/15/13

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

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