8.0 Overall Score

Written by on October 19, 2011 in

It has been a long time since our friends at id Software have blessed us with a game, but the time has come to embark on a new journey in RageRage takes place in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. An asteroid is heading for Earth and to help preserve the human race, a team of humans have been cryogenically frozen, only to awaken decades in the future. When you awaken, you find that mankind has indeed survived, although the living conditions have decreased significantly. While you were frozen a group called “The Authority” had taken over and reclaimed the Wasteland for themselves. Labeled as an “Ark Dweller” your mission is to seek safety from the Authority, mutants, and local bandits by helping people via quests. After leaving your capsule you are ambushed by bandits, but are quickly rescued by a man named Dan, voiced by John Goodman. Dan helps acclimate you to the future and gives you supplies in exchange for help getting his town up and running. Quests range from delivering notes, retrieving supplies, finding missing people, fixing disasters in town, and even raiding bandit hideouts. These quests are what progresses the game, but you can do as many side quests as you want instead of advancing the story.

At first look Rage looks just like another first-person shooter game, but in reality it is much, much more. Throw in a dash of RPG, a big helping of racing, and a few spoonfuls of arcade mini-games and you’ve got yourself Rage. Despite such a mixture of genres, I was really disappointed to see that Rage didn’t incorporate levels or a skill tree. When you enter into Wellsprings you are refitted with some new clothing that determines what kind of character you want to play as, but the customization stops there. I was hoping to be a skilled engineer and focus on building turrets and hacking, but Rage is more about you being a jack-of-all-trades.

The big advice I can give you for exploring the game is to talk to everyone. While not everyone will have a quest or have anything to sell you, each character still has a unique reaction to your character. Often times you won’t be given a quest until the second time you talk with a person, so make sure you stick around while they are talking to you. Talking to every character guarantees that you will receive side quests, gain new weapons, gadgets, and learn more about the hidden secrets of the Wastleland.

The Wasteland is a harsh environment filled with dangers including mutants, the Authority, and bandits who are hellbent on killing you. Each of these baddies has their own unique characteristic in how they attack you. Mutants will often charge at you trying to melee you to death, bandits will seek cover and try to take you out with machine guns and sniper rifles, and the Authority employs advanced weaponry, combat shields, and turrets. It is really impressive how these characters move around, especially the mutants who will shimmy on pipes, roll on the ground, or scale walls to escape your fire. Gearheads, which you will meet later in the game, most closely resemble your own character and use sentry turrets, tough armor, and will often flank you if you aren’t careful. These guys can be annoying to fight with all the armor they wear. Fighting each of these types of enemy will require strategy, patience, and often a quick trigger finger.

There are only three main towns in Rage and the journey to and from each area is filled with danger. Lucky for you though, you have the ability to drive armored vehicles, equipped with rockets, machine guns, bombs, mines, and all sorts of explosive weaponry. In addition to driving to and from your destination, you can also participate in races. These races range from solo time courses, to deadly weaponized vehicle racing. The more money you pour into your vehicle, the better off you will be. You can buy rockets, mini-gun rounds, shields, bombs, auto-turrets, and many other deadly upgrades to your vehicle. Trust me, you want to weaponize your vehicle because you will be traveling between towns frequently, often running into bandit and Authority cars. The only downside to this though is that you can’t use cash to buy parts and upgrades, but have to pay with racing certificates won through races.

If you get tired of shooting people there are also other mini-games that can fill your time including five finger filet, timed package delivery, dice games, racing, and Rage‘s card game, Rage Frenzy. Rage Frenzy cards can be found throughout the Wastleland in hidden areas and act as collectibles in the game. You can then take these cards and play NPC’s for money. The way Rage Frenzy works is that you setup a deck of cards, then play them one by one to see who can wipe out each other’s deck first. Each card will have an attack value, defensive value, or a special ability like adding HP to mutant cards or causing extra damage to adjacent cards. Cards range from grenades, to soldiers, to cars, to even sentry guns. Rage Frenzy is easy to learn but hard to master.

Aside from pimping out your car, it is also important to make sure you have a wide variety of ammunition types for your weapons. You can complete the game with standard rounds, but the fun comes with adding half a binocular and fatboy rounds to your pistol to make it a well-oiled headshot machine. Your shotgun can fire shells that double as grenades, your machine gun can fire armor piercing rounds, and much more.  Each of these ammo types serve a purpose, even if it is making your kills more cinematic. Rage has dozens of ammo types and all can be purchased in the shops around towns. You shouldn’t have any trouble affording them because money and items that you can sell for cash are littered all over the Wasteland. You can make these items any time during the game as long as you have the ingredients, which can be found or bought. Besides weapons you can also craft items like turrets, RC car bombs, and wingsticks. These come in handy when in the heat of battle and you need to thin the waves. Choosing to throw a wingstick and decapitate an enemy can make a big difference instead of reloading your shotgun.

Fighting bandits can be hard. When your health gets depleted, your character doesn’t die like in other games. No, you come equipped with a defibrillator that you can use to revive yourself via a mini-game. A countdown begins and you have to match the pattern on the screen with your left and right thumb stick, building up power in the defibrillator. After a few seconds you will be prompted to press a button when the white line reaches the outer white diamonds. Press the button at the wrong time and you will be revived with only a small portion of your health. The nice part about reviving yourself is that most of the time the enemies will gather around your body to see if you are dead, and when you revive yourself it sends out an electric shock that can stun or kill them. Be careful though because your defibrillator needs to time to recharge and if you get downed during the recharge time you will die and have to load your last checkpoint.

Back at E3 I looked down at Rage because it looked like a “brown game”, meaning there was too much brown and not enough color. After playing it though, I’m happy to say that although brown is a major color, there are still plenty of other colors that make Rage a beautiful game. Walking outside and seeing the magnificent blue sky, the flickering of the neon lights in the subway tunnels, and the native vegetation adds colorful life to the game. Walking into towns you witness shanty buildings, old wrecked cars, and a myriad of citizens with an old west style.  You will come across grease monkey mechanics, grifters, Asiatic traders, bald thugs, and many more characters that look like they belong in a Mad Max film. Rage is a beautiful game.

Rage comes with 3 discs, 2 of them being the single player campaign, and the third being strictly for multiplayer. When you start up the game it recommends that you install all 3 discs to your HD which will take up about 22GB. If you don’t have the room you can always just install 1 disc at a time depending on which one you are playing on. This will help to reduce load time between sections and make the game look a lot more crisp. The single player campaign should take you about 12 hours to complete if you skip over the side missions and go straight for the main storyline. In multiplayer you can either play a co-op story mission or race your car in a deadly race with others online. The co-op story missions are two player and provide a solid experience when playing either with a friend or online. Kills are translated into points and it even breaks down your performance after the level. You will have to rely on your partner for help though because when you get downed your partner is the only one who can revive you. Most levels revolve around invading a faction’s base and stealing either an artifact or weapon, but the levels are anything but repetitive. Road Rage is based on a level system and as you win more events you will level up and unlock new weapons, vehicle skins, and even new vehicles. You can do circuit races or compete in contests to see who can gain the most points by driving through spawn points or collecting falling asteroids fragments. There can be a bit of a disadvantage when you start playing Road Rage because you won’t have unlocked the stronger weapons, unlike others who you may encounter online.

Rage is a game that doesn’t quite line up with its title, but that’s a good thing. The only big frustration I had with Rage was the constant depletion of my ammo. It is good that you can carry a large assortment of guns, but only being able to hotkey four of them is a hassle. I would have liked to just have a gun with bullets automatically be equipped instead of my character continuing to hold an empty gun, waiting for me to go to my inventory and manually select a new gun. For those of you who like to play with subtitles on, you will be frustrated with this game because it puts up too much text on the screen at one time. While chatting with someone you will not only see the text from the person you are talking to, but also text from other characters and loud speakers cluttering up your screen. They tried to help you by color coding the different conversations, but it is hard to read and listen while skipping every other line. You need to also make sure you remember to save and save often. Rage only autosaves when you enter or exit a building. Don’t make the mistake of not saving and then having to replay a major section all over again.

Overall Rage is a game that feels like it is trying to be too many things at once. I give id Software credit for trying to make this game work as a cornucopia of game genres, but it still feels like they could have done more. The story doesn’t pull you in very far and the ending doesn’t leave much to be desired. Along with the many other post-apocalyptic games, Rage doesn’t stand out too much, and with so many blockbuster games coming out before the year is over, I fear that Rage is going to be trampled over. If you are a fan of post-apocolyptic shooters, and are willing to miss out on some big releases in the end of October/ beginning of November, then I would recommend that you at least rent Rage. Rage is rated M for Mature and is out now on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

A copy of Rage was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.


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Author: Loren Nikkel View all posts by
Hardcore Xbox and occasional PC gamer. I love to play multiplayer and co-op games where strategy is key.

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