Backlog: Rage is too Late to the Party

Rage is a game that was developed by id Software. These are the people that brought the world the prestigious Doom and Quake series, and Rage was the first new game from the company since Doom 3 back in 2004. The game was officially announced back in 2007, and made regular trips to gaming conventions such as E3. Rage immediately impressed the games industry, winning a plethora of awards in these conventions. From the demos and previews, Rage was heralded as a masterpiece, with amazing graphics, and gunplay. Then the game was released in 2011. Unfortunately for Rage, the actual reviews were quite average for such an anticipated game. I had been following Rage’s progress with very little interest. Frankly, the game looked bad to me. I really didn’t understand why it was getting the praise it did. Conversely, I was far more impressed with Rage when I got my hands on it than those who had been hyping it before. However, it still doesn’t standout in a crowded FPS (First-person shooter) market, for a variety of reasons, chief among them is lack of focus.

What? I get to play as a skinhead hunk of ugly muscle in a post apocalyptic wasteland? I’ve never done that before!

Rage is a post apocalyptic shooter, and it is far from alone in the genre, and unfortunately for Rage, it is far from the best example of the genre. In 2008 Fallout 3 was released, and in 2009 Borderlands was released. Rage acts as an unholy hybrid of these two games and id’s Doom 3. You see, internet, Rage doesn’t know if it wants to be a traditional shooter or an open world game, or an RPG, and it has decided that it would be a Frankenstein’s monster of the three. The problem with that is that it feels extremely disjointed. I mean, why have an open world at all? It doesn’t add anything to the game, and all it does is artificially pad the game’s length. This open world is accessible through vehicle sections, which is by far the down point of the game. Vehicle sections can be good in shooters, but only as a way to break up tedium. As for Rage, I found myself being desperate for a shooting segment after each one of its terrible vehicle sections.

This is Borderlands. It is exactly like Rage, but made two years earlier and strangely better.

The next big question I have in relation to the game’s identity is in its RPG elements. You can upgrade weapons (To a very small extent), change clothes, and build items such as turrets. I don’t see why they didn’t go further than this. You kill enemies and they drop ammo, components, or money, but why can’t they have it that you can unlock skills or gain weapon proficiency? The reason for this is that Rage also wants to be a traditional no-nonsense shooter like Doom 3 without all of the modern RPG trappings that are now found in the genre. The problem is that they go halfway between these two poles, so I find my self wanting more RPG elements during the shooting and a more straightforward game during the RPG elements that do exist. Had the game been released in 2007, it would have undoubtedly been a huge success, but the market has changed. Games such as Fallout 3 and Borderlands have set certain expectations, and people aren’t as interested in a boring, bland wasteland as they used to be.

This is not a totally bland and boring setting!

There are three major enemy groups in Rage: Bandits, Mutants, and the Authority. All of these groups you’ve seen in various other games. Bandits are a bunch of ugly thugs, who aren’t much of a threat, and are different from Mutants because they use guns; although some of them are just as horribly disfigured as Mutants so it’s hard to tell the real difference. Mutants are the same bunch of berserker zombie-wannabies that you see in many games. They’ll run right at you and are best handled with a shotgun. Sometimes there are bigger mutants which serve as bosses or mid-bosses, and that helps break up the monotony. Finally, there are the Authority. These people exist to play on teenagers’ natural hatred of any authority figure and the government, and they are fascist enough to do this well. They are actually pretty unique as far as shooters go. They are fully clad in armour, but unlike pretty much every shooter (I’m looking at you, Killzone), this armour actually defends against bullets and you have to shoot parts of it off to effectively damage the enemy. This is actually a pretty good idea, and kind of makes up for the other two types of enemies being extremely generic.

id doesn’t have a good dental plan, but they make up for it with excellent stock options 

Rage is a beautiful game. Unfortunately this graphical prowess is largely wasted. It is very hard to differentiate between one bland hallway from the next, as it is to see the difference between segments of boring wasteland. For what its worth, that dirt is some of the best looking dirt you’ll see. Unlike a lot of games (Skyrim), Rage has pretty good voice acting behind it, but once again this is wasted. There aren’t any characters worth remembering, or who standout, and this is a shame, because characters are well animated and the voice work is truly above average. Finally there is the gunplay. The guns are varied, the controls and responsive and the mechanics are sound. There is only one tiny problem: a lot of the time, enemies aren’t very fun to kill. Enemies are very responsive they run away from you, get to cover appropriately, and move around in a convincing matter. Unfortunately this is not true when they are shot. Enemies take too many bullets to kill and barely notice when they are shot. This may seem like a petty issue, but if enemies aren’t fun to kill, a lot of the fun of a shooter is taken out. Fortunately, this concern doesn’t always apply, stronger ammunition becomes available and kills enemies much quicker. Enemies still don’t notice getting shot very much, but they die quicker so you don’t notice it as much.

You’d think this guy would be interesting. I mean, he doesn’t even have pants on.

Overall Rage is a good game. I was impressed by its graphics and its old school approach to gameplay. The problem is that Rage’s concept is hardly unique, and, truthfully, is pretty overdone at this point. Other games have treaded similar ground, such as to make Rage look like a simple imitator, even though it is far from that. Id’s pedigree helps Rage during its shooting segments, but they seem totally lost in implementing vehicle sections and RPG elements. If you want a singleplayer shooter, you can do much worse than Rage. The problem is that you can do much better as well.

– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer

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