Saturday, October 22, 2011

And now I know why they call it Rage...

Rage.  It is something I have struggled with for years...the emotion that is.  I have been known to get mad at the drop of a hat and go into a tirade that that is both scary and embarrassing.  Ask my kids...they will tell you all about Daddy's rage.  Now, Rage, the video game, I only struggled with for about about 20 hours. I guess "struggle" is the wrong word for it because overall, I really liked the game.  It is flat out beautiful and the shooting is as tight and responsive as any FPS you can find.  The problem with Rage is that for all it's highs, the lows are just...well...odd.  Odd choices in style.  Odd choices in focus.  Odd choices in how it all ultimately plays out.  So...let's jump into Rage and see what we can figure out.
Lets spend some time under the hood with this game.  First off, it can not be said enough just how pretty and smooth this game is.  It runs at a full on 60 frames per second through the entire game with no slow down whatsoever.  Considering just how pretty this game is and how much can be happening on screen at any one time, this is nothing short of amazing.  The textures and details are second to none on a console game and though there has been some people complain about the pop in of textures at times, it is only for a second as you enter from a loading least on the XBox 360 version.  Locales are varied and though you are in a destroyed future, there is a lot more to it than just dirt and rust.  Secondly, the control is spot on.  The first person controls are great and the gun play that you can get into is pretty amazing.  This is really no question since the game comes of ID software, who pretty much invented the FPS so many years ago.  Finally, the AI of the enemy characters in the game are great.  Taking cover, running away, strafing you...they can be pretty brutal and they aren't afraid to come after you in groups if need be.  There are "monster closets" at times, but when it happens, it totally makes sense in the context of the game and I never found it that annoying.
Next up is the game itself and the story.  This is the part that I am really at odds with.  The story is standard with no big twists or turns, but you get to do a variety of things that are fun.  It was always enjoyable to enter a new area and clean out the baddies and see what kind of variation you would see.  As you progress, you have an ever expanding arsenal at your disposal and how you approach new situations is up to you.  Want to sneak in?  Go for it!  Want to craft and send in a remote drone to blow up a group of enemies?  Why not?!?!  Want to shot a mind-control arrow into one person and have him take out those around him?  You can do that too!  It was a lot of fun to play with what was given and find junk to construct items and ammo with to help you feel like a bad ass.  In a lot of good ways, the game reminded me of Borderlands, with central points that you travel from in your dune buggy to get to other points to complete missions, though that travel from place to place was never as fun as Borderlands or as open-ended.  The times when you were in the dune buggy were just to get from place to place and though you had to fight other vehicles along the way, there weren't a lot of reasons to get out along the way.  The one other time dune buggies were important is one part that I didn't really care for in the game.  The races.  There is this whole race culture built into the game where from time to time you had to participate in a race to get a better vehicle to use out in the wasteland.  While the racing was OK in and of itself, it just was not as much fun as the actual FPS sections, which I wish is where they had spent time focusing on more missions.  A lot of the racing is optional, but if you don't do a lot of it like me, you may not get your worth out of what is offered.  Additionally, the multiplayer is ONLY this racing component, which is really a sad waste in my opinion.  Cooping the regular story would have been a blast.  Overall, the game is structured like an open-world game...but it really isn't THAT open-world.  You can tackle some things at the hud towns when you want, but when you get to the mission destinations, it is pretty much a straight shot from beginning to end with no reason to go back unless you get a new mission from a Job Board to go back.  There are mini games in the hub towns which are fun and can earn you some cash, with a card game setting you to scour the missions for new cards to build a better deck to play with (which was actually a ton of fun). 
Overall, I liked the game, but in the end, it left me wanting more...and not in a good way.  The ending it terrible.  There is a huge set up, but the last mission isn't very hard, has no boss fight (though it makes you think there will be), and all you end up doing is press some buttons, shot some baddies, and watching a cut scene with no way to continue playing in this "open-world" after the credits.  I might have gone back and raced some if I had been given the option to go back, but there as not real reason to or even permission to do that.  Is it a huge failure?  No...not in the least, but I wish it had been give some more time to get the parts that didn't work as well more time to develop.  This time of year is so choked with games anyway, giving a new IP like this a early summer release would have been spot on.  As it is, it is going to get lost with mediocre reviews and quick trade-ins.  It is certainly worth playing and DLC may improve things down the line, but if that is the case, it might be worth putting off playing for a while until we know that for sure.  As for buying new or used...well the new copy came with some sewer levels that I only ended up finding one of the nine of them available.  They are scattered through the wasteland, so unless you are really looking, you will never find them on accident and all they really give is more ammo, which you can buy anyway.  I would go used...but that is just me.  Hope that helps anyone on the fence about this really good game.  I hope they do a Rage II, Rage Harder in a few years...

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