Review: RAGE

October 19, 2011, By Christian Davis

When it comes to console graphics, I hardly ever have my jaw drop. RAGE has managed to do that during the first 2 minutes of the game. This game is stunning and is probably the best looking title we’ve seen on the Xbox 360 to date. id’s new Tech 5 engine needs to be the new standard for graphics because it’s just that good. The characters  look great and they’re movements are smooth and life-like. The locales will have you wanting to do nothing more than explore and see what the RAGE universe has to offer; It’s a great feeling to have when you pop that game disc into your console. To my surprise, RAGE is not much more than a pretty face. I can only stare at something pretty for so long until I start to wonder what else it has to offer. RAGE simply lacks the substance that I assumed it would have, but I guess that’s what I get for assuming.

When playing through RAGE, my experience was a mixed bag of emotions. Initially when I started this journey, I was ecstatic to explore this now barren world filled with deadly gangs and clans, underground taverns, and side quests. The game starts with your character regaining consciousness inside of a futuristic subterranean craft. Shortly after I took control of my character and  made my way outside, I was immediately put in danger and then saved by Dan Hagar (voiced by John Goodman). I liked the fact that they were jumping right into the action with this and it let me know that nowhere is really a safe haven. When we reached Dan’s settlement, I’m told I need to do a mission for Dan as a thank you for saving my life. Though I know nothing about my character or who Dan is, of course I do the mission. After that mission is completed I come back and am told to do another mission. Once that mission is completed I head back to Dan once again and am told to do yet another mission. I already started to get a bit bored. What I expected RAGE to be was an expansive open world shooter in the same vain as Borderlands and Fallout. Instead, I got a fairly linear, yet pretty shopping list that removed all of the sweet exciting junk food and played it safe with pasta.

When progressing through, there’s so much potential in the game that is simply wasted away. I was most disappointed with the fact that I couldn’t go off and explore this gorgeous world. Missions have you go from point A to point B and back to point A. There’s no expansion beyond the designated trail that you have to take. So instead of going off for a joy ride or collecting random artifacts, my hand is being held the second I started my first mission. For example, there was a task given to me early on in the game that required me to put a satellite back into its correct position. I wanted to traverse the landscape instead so I opted to decline and do the mission later. There was nowhere for me to go after that. The character was in my direct path and couldn’t be moved, I couldn’t jump over any of the rails to leave the area, and there was no other path for me to go. I was forced to say yes and do the mission.

With all this traveling and character interaction, what exactly was the point of all of it? I can’t really tell you to be honest. The storytelling of is considerably weak and you’re just being told what to do. Through side missions some of the story is explained a bit more, but hardly enough to quench any fulfilling thirst for a deep narrative. You’re going around killing members of these various clans and gangs without any real reason why; It’s just because whoever you happen to be listening to says to do it. Later on you face a new faction called The Authority; A high tech militaristic organization. They’re the bad guys of the game, but you don’t really know their purpose. You just have to kill them before they kill you. You find out what their motives are towards the last act of the game, but it’s almost too little too late. The lack of storytelling in combination with a character who you know nothing about and doesn’t speak, has you feel disconnected from the universe, hindering the experience.

RAGE does get a few things right though. Firstly, the artificial intelligence of the characters is astoundingly good. The first time I saw someone anticipate where I was going to shoot and then dodge the bullet had me really take these guys seriously. The gang diversity is also really nice. Each acts differently when cooperating with each other and when battling you. I loved how they communicated with one another during combat as well. In one instance I shot one of the members in the leg. His friend called out to him and told the injured man to hurry up. He responded with, “I can’t, he got me good. I’m not gonna make it.” I almost felt bad for finishing him off. After that instance, the other clan member attacked me in a blind fury since he was the last one left.

Weapons in the game are pretty fun to use as well but aren’t perfect. You start off with a standard revolver and then slowly upgrade from there either by completing missions for characters or purchasing them from the store. Enemies in this game are incredibly strong and sometimes you feel like your weapons don’t have enough “bang for their buck”. There was an instance where I had to shoot a guy point blank with a shotgun several times. He didn’t even have any armor on. My favorite is the grenade. Not the weapon itself, more-so the effect that happens when I blow someone up with it. It will literally rain blood if you take a few guys out with these grenades. The body basically disintegrates and leaves nothing behind but some organs. It’s definitely a satisfying way to end a battle.

RAGE isn’t the worst game I’ve played by any means, but it’s lacking in creativity that other games of this nature have and that really makes it forgettable. When asked which game someone should get, usually I could tell them which title and why. With RAGE, it’s difficult to do.  There’s nothing differentiating it from games of this style especially when other games do it better.

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