|Posted by Jonathan Terbeche on October 20, 2011 at 5:10 PM|
Ever heard of a game called "Wolfenstein?" What about "Quake?" Or what about one of gaming's most prolific and influential series, "Doom?" All of the many games in these franchises were developed by id Software, veterans and pioneers of first-person shooters. So when they announced their new IP, "Rage," gamers everywhere were excited at the thought of something new. But did "Rage" deliver something new, or even something good?
The initial showing of the game was done so emphasizing their new proprietary engine, id Tech 5. The graphical power, and amazing enemy A.I. achieved are far and away the best from any game this console generation. Immediately at the game's opening, a sweeping vista, and beautiful landscapes flood the screen. Then there's the first enemy encounter, which will require you to rethink the the way you play as the enemies jump, roll, and flank you from every direction.
So what kind of game is "Rage" anyway? Players might think, given the developer's track record, that it is a classic corridor, first-person shooter. And for much of the game, they'd be right. But in reality "Rage" is so much more. This can immediately be seen in the game's multiplayer which consists of a two-player first-person shooter co-op mode and "Road Rage" which consists of vehicle combat, instead of the traditional team deathmatch.
In fact, much of the game's single-player also revolves around racing and car combat. Given the game's very large and pseudo-open world setting, the inclusion of desert buggies with machine guns a la "Mad Max" seems not only necessary, but with the inclusion of races, turn out to be quite fun as well. Something else in the vein of post-apocalyptic media is the style and diversity of the weapons. From the super-effective shotgun, to an upgradeable sentry turret, to a flying boomerang of death, the weapons and items in the game are incredibly fun and encouraged to use.
Developer id made a point with "Rage" to deliver a compelling and large single-player experience. Including a typical deathmatch multiplayer would surely detract from this. However, with such a large focus on single-player, it then becomes the burden to deliver an amazing experience from start to finish. This is where "Rage" fails.
As much of a spectacle, and as enjoyable as the opening of the game is, the ending of the game is the polar opposite. Most narratives in any medium are structured in three acts, with a beginning to set up the story, a middle where some conflict occurs, and then a resolution where the climax and ending is staged. "Rage" has only two main parts, the fantastic opening to the game which lasts more than half the game's length, and then the shorter, forgettable second part. Whether the second part is the conflict or the resolution, I'm not sure, but the game does not resolve much at all.
There are just awkward decisions made that would have easily strengthened the narrative. The game's first NPC, Dan Hagar is painfully missing after the first 5 hours of the game, making the entire beginning seem pointless. When the game makes the transition to the second hub-world it shows and makes reference to a large, sprawling city just above where the player is, yet it never becomes available to explore, or plays any role in the game whatsoever. Finally, one of id's largest disappointments is the final level in the game, with poor level design, and enemies popping out of walls. Slight spoiler here, but there is no final boss, there is never a meeting with the game's main antagonist, whom you never even see, and the final moments of the game lack so much tension or fun, it's quite sad.
"Rage" is a unique title. It's part sci-fi shooter, part car combat game, and part unsatisfying story. It showcases the best visuals I've ever seen from a game, the best A.I. enemies I've ever fought, and a genuinely fun world. The weapons, upgrades, and vehicle combat in the game are certainly highlights of the experience and worth seeing. Unfortunately, the game's ladder part of the game, ending, and overall empty story make for an overall disappointing adventure. I wasn't sure why the game was called "Rage," for the longest time. Then I got to the end and wanted to break my controller. I get it now.
6/10 - Good
An enjoyable experience, but not a must-play.