By Hussein Zohair
A beautiful game, marred just by a few technical hiccups!
Publisher – Bethesda Softworks
Platform – Playstation 3, Xbox 360 & PC
Release Date – October 4, 2011 (North America)
October 7, 2011 (Europe)
Genre – First Person Shooter
Rating – PEGI (18) ESRB (M)
id Software is a development team that brought to us First Person Shooters. This was the team that introduced to the world the phenomenon that is FPS games. They were the trend setters of their time and introduced amazing games with even more beautiful graphics. But many years have passed by since its last FPS game and many new games have taken control of the FPS market. Does id Software’s latest offering have enough pizzazz to take back what was rightfully it’s?
Rage is a very ambitious game and it shows by the amount of work put into every inch and detail of the game. id Software made sure that they heard what the consumers wanted and accordingly applied and changed its formula for this game. Rage is every bit a modern shooter in terms of mechanics like any other Call of Duty game, but still manages to hold that old school feel, which is a welcome change from the same monotonous control scheme of today’s FPS games.
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Now let me start off with the story. The story in Rage is pretty simple: an asteroid hits Earth and the world is nearly wiped out. Many vaults were launched into space at the time and the people in it were kept on hibernation mode. So when the vault lands back on Earth, you haven’t aged one bit, but the world has gone from bad to worse. As soon as you step out, you get to see the wasteland that is Earth but still admire the beauty of the technology powering the game’s visuals. And as you are traversing about and admiring the beauty of the world, you are attacked by mutants and consecutively saved by someone. That is when you realize that this is no longer a safe place and everyone is just trying to either kill you, or use you to help them out. Later you join the resistance to overthrow the government called the Authority.
And the story revolves around how you achieve that while doing many missions along the way.
This game is an all out shooter. Do not misinterpret it for an RPG game reminiscent of either Fallout or Borderlands. It may share the art style of both games, but it has mostly nothing in common besides a destroyed wastelandic’ future for our dear planet Earth. The gameplay is smooth as it is running at 60 frames per second which is rare to find on consoles, especially with such beautiful and detailed graphics. But then again, this comes at a price which I will discuss about later on in the review. The game plays like a modern shooter with almost similar control schemes, yet it feels old school. The game is fairly challenging; the gun play can be fun, keeping in mind that you are taking cover often because if you try to just run and gun, you will end up dead more than often. Which brings me to another aspect of the game – the defibrillator! When you die, you get a chance to get back up by ‘defibrillating’ yourself and shocking nearby enemies in the process.
You even get to build objects considering you have the ‘recipe’ to make it such as remote control car bombs, bandages, grinder locks, etc. You can even go and talk to mostly anyone and someone or the other will have a mission for you. So most of the times your bag is full with tasks to do, with the primary missions taking center stage and many other side missions sidelining the whole story. Also, shooting is not the only gameplay element of this game. You get to drive around in the wasteland as well. It’s not open world, but it makes you go from point A to point B and to do that, you need a car, and many times you revisit similar spots! The FPS parts are confined to linear paths and in confined spaces, whereas for the car sequences, you have a vast land waiting outside. The gunplay is entertaining as you fend of mutants in “I Am Legend’esque” sequences and then fight off other humans who want your head on a platter, for some, literally. Rage doesn’t revolutionize shooters like its predecessors, but it is really well made.
There are more than a few weapons in Rage and all of them feel powerful, though the enemies are bullet sponges and it will take you almost a complete magazine from your Assault Rifle to get them down. The A.I. is very dynamic and they change based on who you are dealing with. Mutants aren’t smart so they charge at you but don’t just come in a straight path; they use the surroundings like pipes and poles and make themselves a hard target to shoot. Bandits duck and take cover and run away when under oppression by you. Armored enemies take a lot of bullets but then getting them down feels very satisfying. Sometimes the mix of enemies is so vast and varied that you have to change your combat tactics on the fly and deal with the situation. Oh, and the game also has racing segments where some races are imperative to the story and the rest are just up to your liking. And you have to do these races to earn race credits with which you can purchase weapons and mods for your car and similarly you can go to vendors to purchase items such as weapons, ammo, etc.
Moving onto the graphics; Rage is a beautiful looking game, no doubt about it. Take a still from the game and it just shows how id Software still can conjure up some of the best visual’s yet seen on a console AND make it run at 60 frames per second, which in itself is a phenomenal feat. But this comes at a price; Rage is littered with texture pop-in and load-in. In every area you visit you will see this and it’s not negligible, it is worse than you can imagine. I had heard about this in reviews and thought that reviewers were just nitpicking, but turns out that they were right. It can get really annoying and pull you out of the game world AND the experience. I know it did for me. The character models look really good and the art style of the game, though reminiscent of Borderlands, feels unique and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. But none of the characters are memorable, keeping aside maybe one or two. So you don’t feel any connection with any of the characters and aren’t as INTO the game as you are supposed to be, or want to be.
Online is something that people won’t actually expect. For an FPS game, this game’s online only has driving segments. No Team Deathmatch, no Free For All, no Capture The Flag; it’s all racing and destruction derby type games where your cars are mounted with weapons such as miniguns or homing rockets. The cars handle quite well online and it can be a lot of fun to blow up other players online; sort of like Twisted Metal. It’s really weird that id Software would opt for such an online style of gameplay, instead of traditional FPS multiplayer matches. But the online is still a lot of fun with all the power-ups and ramps that add to the chaos of the online multiplayer.
Rage is not the best game out there but it’s definitely not the worst. It’s actually a pretty decent game. It’s just; the expectations for this game were sky high because of the hype created for it by id Software. And knowing id Software, everyone believed in the hype as well. Rage is a solid shooter with a mediocre story, great shooting mechanics and impressive enemy A.I. AND beautiful graphics. It’s a shame that the texture pop-in and load-in issues still persist and id Software hasn’t released any patch to fix it.
Rage isn’t what Wolfenstein 3D was to gaming, but it surely is another great entry in the FPS games list.
Story: Storyline is weak with forgettable personalities and the game drags towards the end. (6.5)
Gameplay: Controls are tight and responsive and vehicle segments break up the intense shooting segments of the game at right intervals. (8.5)
Graphics: It is definitely one of the prettiest looking games in the market right now which is only marred by its texture pop-in and load-in. (9.0)
Presentation: The production values are high and it can be seen very clearly. The startup display is not dull and the game throughout maintains a similar, dark but goofy tone. (8.9)
Replay value: The campaign is very long, when compared to other FPS games out there and even after you are done with the vast single player (excluding the side missions), you still have online multiplayer to dig into. (9.3)
Overall: One of the most beautiful games made, that does a lot of things right and is successful at it. (8.5)