Reader Review: RAGE

It's a game that has divided the gaming community: there was a lot riding on the shoulders of RAGE, and many believed the game failed to deliver. Kotaku reader (and regular reviewer!) Tristan Damen ventured into the wasteland created by id to see if the game lives up to its hype.

RAGE There's no denying that id Software popularised the first-person shooter. The genre existed before the likes of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, but none proved to be as compelling, enduring or as fluid as Carmack and Romero's masterpieces. After seven years in development, RAGE marks id's return to the market. Does the leap in technology and multi-platform commitment allow for another classic from the fathers of frag?

The Good Ride of the Valkyries -- Apart from tedious voicework, the sound design in Rage is exemplary. When opting for the stealthy approach, ominous strings have tension lurking behind every corner. When you are found, a score of rousing themes captures the frantic energy of your fight against every mutant and bandit that occupies the wasteland. The sound effects are also reason to turn up the volume, with guns -- like the Authority MG -- creating a cacophony of intimidating noise. You can almost hear the armour being ripped off of your enemies by each item in your thunderous arsenal.

Corridor dancing - While the character interaction, inventory management and car combat don't smack of the polish you'd expect from an id shooter, you'd best believe that the developers got the FPS fundamentals right in RAGE. Enemies of melee and ranged persuasions suffocate you in the game's various arrangements of corridors and open areas. You'll be more than able to defend yourself, however, with a range of guns and offensive items that makes for a somewhat enjoyable apocalypse.

Animated -- They may not have much of value to say, but the characters in RAGE are all rendered and animated with a level of detail not seen in your average console shooter. Enemies also move in a fashion that is either believable when referring to bandits and the Authority, or just plain frightening when the various mutants come to mind.

The Bad Hardly worth the drive -- For an open world game, RAGE takes place in a relatively-small space. A fast travel system similar to that in Fallout 3 or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion would have been far more effective than the painfully-short car rides to each mission. Worse still, there's five leagues worth of frustrating races and car combat to work through as well. I'd have preferred to have spent more time throwing Wingsticks at mutants than driving some ugly cars through the innocuous wasteland.

It's dangerous to go alone! Take this -- With regenerating health, consumable healing items, and a defibrillator that allows for multiple resurrections, the single player campaign offers no sense of challenge on Normal difficulty. Even when faced with hulking foes or overwhelming numbers, players are afforded too many effective tools to have any trouble with safely traversing the wasteland.

Cultural melting pot -- Each of the bandit factions has a distinct look, with members that speak in their own accent or language; but the reasons for this aren't apparent. Why do the Gearheads speak in Russian? Why do the Wasted speak with pommy accents and have a predilection for the Union Jack? None of this is immediately obvious, and it's not explored in any level of detail. Not only is this disappointing, but it gives the impression that your enemies look different just for the sake of it.

The Ugly Kleenex -- After completing the single player campaign, I felt as though I'd been used. I hadn't developed a meaningful rapport with any of the mission-givers that I'd come across in my fifteen hours of play. When I left for the final mission, I had no connection to the places or people that I'd saved. RAGE's empty story, tired dialogue and forgettable characters left me with nothing to fight for.

Stay with me? -- The multiplayer suite in RAGE is nothing short of laughable, with competitive car combat that suffers from the worst connection issues I've seen in this generation of hardware. Even when I'd figured out the objective of each match type, enemy vehicles were skipping across each track and bringing me a great many deaths. The Wasteland Legends co-op mode is a promising concept that is undone by the inability to continue play if a partner drops out. This problem is further exacerbated by the fickle player community, which runs at the first sign of failure. For 360 players, the third disc is a throw-away.

The Verdict RAGE may look fantastic and feature id's signature brand of hectic gunplay, but it’s got no soul. A near non-existent story, poorly-developed characters, and more hours than I would care to spend in a car, make for a disappointing adventure with little replay value. The woeful competitive multiplayer and restrictive co-op mode don't help things either. If you actually find yourself enjoying the vehicular portions of the game, you become quite fond of this inconsistent beauty. If not, it's a long, unrewarding journey that I was happy to see the back of.

How was your experience with RAGE? Do you agree/disagree with any of Tristan's points? Let us know what you think!


Comments

    Well yet another review that puts this as a bargain bin/steam sale purchase for me.

    Sigh, still waiting for the copy I won weeks ago on Kotaku :(

    I was greatly disappointed with the lack of any real story line that made sense and how god dam short the game was

    The screenshots sure are pretty, though. :D

    Agreed.

    I'm currently playing it at this moment, well not this exact moment, and I'm only forcing myself to finish the single player campaign so I can uninstall it and free up 20GB of space. I paid, I may as well play... then forget.

    Personally I thought if this was marketed as a shooter, it would have done a lot better. I genuinely enjoyed the weapons and the ammo customisation, it was kind of Bioshock. But the racing was forced and the lack of story for the first half bordered on ridiculous. Partially rectified on the second disc, where I actually understood WTF i was doing but yeah.

    I think it's shallow to say you have to enjoy the racing to enjoy this, I hated the racing but the FPS elements were solid.

    My main complaint with the game is the texture loading problems on PS3. They're insanely bad and really unforgivable. I know a lot of games these days have texture pop. Its the reality of pushing old hardware with limited memory, but this game might as well be a PS2 game most of the time because textures take so long to load most people won't actually see what the game is supposed to look like because you'll walk past the environment before its loaded properly.

    I've only played about 5 hours but I'm pretty much with the reviewer.
    Although it is one of the popcorn entertainment games I've played in a while.

    I wouldn't even tell someone to buy it if it was in the bargain bin ,it was that bad.

    To me, this game seems to really highlight what id are good at, and what id aren't good at.
    The corridor shooting sections/mini-dungeons are the high point of the game for me, reminiscent of the first Quake and Doom, and Wolfenstein 3D.
    Whilst I haven't finished the game yet (I don't think I'm even halfway!), it becomes apparent that the story isn't as strong as it could've been. You just don't have that emotional connection with the major NPCs to wonder if saving them is really worth it.
    Wasn't it John Carmack who downplayed the importance of story a few years back?

    I think a lot of people (gamers, reviewers & others) are trying to compare it with Doom or Quake. I agree that it has no soul but I think it's great news that id is moving out and trying something new and different.

    Credit given for that and I think this should be the start of id of getting bigger and better titles under their belt.

    Imagine if they do another Doom like game, Space Marines riding tanks, space ships etc etc.

      It's been said to me a few times - the review has been posted on my blog, previously - that I may have had high expectations going into RAGE. This simply wasn't the case.

      I expected a solid FPS set in a now-cliche post-apocalyptic wasteland that featured car combat. My expectations were met, except with the need to insert the word "crappy" before car combat. I didn't expect much of a story either, I just didn't expect it to be such a barrier to the fun that RAGE offers.

    I understand the reviewers comments however i'll have to disagree regarding the car racing as i thought it was an awesome way to break up the shooting. With the latest patch the pc version visuals are great (some texture issues i recommend installing on an ssd). I'm about 12 hours in and, to be honest, its refreshing to play a solid shooter without some elaborate story or emotional connection to characters etc. Its just you, your shotgun and a heap of interesting enemies!

      I agree that the car racing would have been a great way to break up the action if it didn't feel like such a foregone conclusion. I only had to restart a couple of the Rocket Rallies. I finished all of the races with - what felt like - no opposition from my AI opponents.

      I also agree that shooting without narrative exposition would be great, but RAGE does attempt to create story and connection; it just fails at that miserably. It's not just you and your shotgun: it's you, your shotgun, two hub worlds, crap car combat and a litany of other bugs. If RAGE was just a corridor shooter that was wasteland-themed, I dare say i would have liked it more!

        I completely understand where you're coming from and i believe that, ultimately, rage was the victim of its own hype. People were expecting an engaging story with freedom of choice and an element of character progression and what we got was a game that would've been a hit 5 years ago. I guess my point if view is that i'm finding the shooting and driving enjoyable thus far, would i have paid 100 at eb for it? Hell no! On the other hand 40 from ozgameshop was worthwhile purchase... Solid review by the way!

          Thanks, man. As per my comment above, I wasn't really expecting much from RAGE; hype wasn't really a factor. Glad you're liking it though. I'm posting a RAGE post-mortem on my blog tonight. It includes some emails between a mate - who happens to be quite the fan - and myself as we made our way through the game. I'll chuck a link up once it's posted.

            As promised: http://bitmob.com/articles/the-rage-letters-a-review-post-mortem

    Agree, beautiful looking game, great sounding but the story line is terrible.

    In essence RAGE is a game that still tries to flog a gaming concept 10 years old. The narrow corridor shooter with no need for an engaging story is dead. This is why it fails and they knew it. They tried to make it more than it is by including "driving" sections but these fall into more of an annoyance than a privelage.

    The story is one of the more pointless and badly devised ideas I have come across.. It's works even less so because as a post apocolyptic world, Fallout 3 was so fantastic storywise. In RAGE, the characters have no real point,simply serving as vending machines that sell "quests".

    The enemies are just pretty poorly devised. In reality they are "generic enemy 1 with accent". The thing that go to me most was the fact that I failed to understand why want to kill me and the other people didn't.

    I could go on about why RAGE is such a poor game, but it's all been said already.

      Like Modern Warfare 3...

    Rage needed dialogue trees, an open ended world and character customization but over all I think people have been a little too harsh when they call it a bad game. I would give it 7.5 out of 10.

      Let's just say that RAGE was going to videogame university. Assigning score or 7.5/10 (75%) would be equivalent to a distinction. No way it deserves that, Pass mark at best in my opinion.

      For what reasons do you think people were too hard on it? I'd be interested to know as two of my friends are very passionate defenders of id's latest baby :o)

    Loved the game. Like an Hong Kong Kung-Fu movie, its all about the action. Just ignore the "story" and play it like Quake 3: Arena - you might have fun! Still, I wouldnt recommend it at full retail price. The last area of the game is half-baked, though it is awesome to play a console game at 60fps again. It will be great when the next-gen consoles are released, so we can have high-detail AND 60fps gameplay. At the moment its either low-detail/60fps or High-detail/30fps...and thats with tricks!

    I don't have the best attention span at the best of times............

      ............ oh yeah, i was going to say something.

      I progressed as far as Rage TV, died a couple of times, and was just never motivated enough to go back and try again.

      It's now sitting in my pile of shame.

    I'm about 11 hours in and loving it. I brought it a week ago after reading numerous reviews knowing exactly what I was getting with no interest in playing competitive multiplayer or expectation of id to start writing compelling stories.

    Now over the last weekend when I was playing through the 'short' BF3 campaign all I could think was BORING! Been there, done that (I know it's primarily a MP game and that's unbelievable btw ). But with a large population who still would only purchase this game for singleplayer, it felt the same as it numerous competitors and I couldn't wait to get back to Rage.

    My point is, Rage for me is a breath of fresh action arcade air. I don't mind the short drive before each mission. I enjoy the races, that you don't have to do. I love the many weapon choices through the 'usually' intense combat and feeling like a badass. Spider bots, wing sticks and rabid apocalypse mutants meeting my 'id style' shotgun all equals fun, pure fun you would expect from a id game.

    Rage is not meant to be Fallout, Borderlands or any other game it is being compared too.

    If you play Rage for what it is, a very polished FPS arcade romp, through a apocalyptic wasteland and expect to have fun rather then the second coming. Then you may see the entertainment this title has to offer.

      *very polished (I meant looking), not glitches that I'm yet to come across.

      Good review btw. I think I'm just enjoying a little more :-)

        Thanks, Pottsy. I know of a few who are enjoying RAGE, and I could have too if they went with all corridor shooting as opposed to this inconsistent soup of a final product. Please check the link above (response to The edman) if you want to read a dissenting view too.

    Well, it was fun to play, but it wasn't much of a game. It was certainly very pretty, and the mechanics were down pat, but it was just missing so much.

    Also, on Hard, it's just as easy. I can count on my hands how many times I had to use the defribrilator

    For the life of me I can't figure out why they didn't include a deathmatch but instead put out car combat - like some sort of Vigilante knock off - it's like they lost their nerve.

    A well built fast paced frag-fest could've saved this title no end, because there are always people who appreciate the old twitchy style of shooter - the fact they left it out altogether an incredible misjudgement.

    Most of the game's limitations can actually be summed up as "id used megatextures; ran out of memory."

    There are not any noticably repeating texture assets in the game except where they should repeat - that eats a ridiculous amount of memory and as much as id wants to sell to consoles, pc gamers are bound to be further qualified to understand that. The game worked flawlessly for me from its arrival in the mail.

    The complaints about the enemies and the lack of explanation for their nationalities is bizarre; I hail from the US where many cultures exist simultaneously and are generally cliquish.

    The game world apparently exists around the meteor crash site. The meteor was rich in the new and valuable resource, "Feltrite" (it felt right at the time heh heh). People have had time to establish new societies. Put two and two together to determine the obvious: The different groups in the area are vying for territory around the richest new resource on the planet. They don't have to be original locals. It's so obvious you shouldn't need an explanation.

      Who's to say that the meteor hit the US? Maybe it hit an area with a large indigenous population, and these groups of Russians and Poms moved in because it felt right (lolololololol). There's no explanation for why anything is the way it is. Considering how beautiful the game looks, and how rich the seemingly-purposeless art direction is, it all felt like a missed opportunity.

        Well if you're expecting continued and in-depth explanation on behalf of id, they've never done that sort of thing.

        Nobody asks what the demons in Doom do in their spare time. I don't necessarily think that's what id's job as designers is overall - I would say it's more evidence of the enemy design's brilliance that you want to know so much more about what some have described "stock" enemies (as though every mega-selling war game weren't about generic germans, soviets, koreans, terrorists, whatever.) - it's that the enemies work so goddamn well and are so interesting that you feel entitled to know more about them.

          Yeah, but Doom never really had much of a story. Nor did it forcr you to walk around hub worlds talking - or attempting to talk - to soulless NPCs.

          For the most part, I love the varied tactics enemies employed.... the art design was just all over the shop.

Join the discussion!