By Daniel Murtha
I know, I know; I'm a little late to the table with this review, but I was a little late in playing the game as well. Rage suffered from a poorly selected release date. Its October 4th launch was sandwiched between Gears of War 3 and FIFA 12 on one side, shared the date with Dark Souls, and was just before Batman: Arkham City and Battlefield 3’s releases. Due to its proximity to these games, Rage was probably overlooked by a lot of FPS fans who saved their money and/or time for Battlefield and the new Call of Duty game. The point I want to get across is not why you missed out when it came out, but why you should play it now that it’s in the bargain bin at most places (Amazon.com has it for $25.94 on the XBOX and $18.90 for the PC at the time this was published).
I should start by repeating something I mentioned on the podcast for those that are listeners. Like a lot of people, I thought Rage would closely resemble Fallout, a game set in a post-apocalyptic world, heavy on the RPG elements and light on the shooter elements. Rage is in fact quite the opposite. Developed by id Software, whose games lineup includes Doom, Quake and the Wolfenstien series, Rage felt more like Bioshock: set in a ruined southwestern USA with the only similarity to Fallout being the desolate atmosphere and the fact that Bethesda published the game. After reading reviews and talking to other owners of Rage, I knew what I was getting into. I'm not going to bore everyone by writing a full review, as probably many have already read reviews or know about the game from others. So instead, I'm going to list my likes and dislikes for Rage in order to convince people to give it a try.
-Graphics: The game looks gorgeous and probably sports the best graphics I've seen on the Xbox 360. Fluid animations, detailed environments, and the best character models I've seen in any videogame make this an impressive looking game in every way.
-Setting: The post-apocalyptic world is cobbled together both structurally and societally, making it feel very real and engaging. Remnants of the “old world” are dotted throughout the game reminding the player of what once was.
-Action: Intense gunplay coupled with sticky situations had me white-knuckling the controller on many occasions, trying to survive the onslaught of dangerous enemies.
-Vehicular Combat: Anyone (myself included) disappointed by the vehicles in Borderlands can breathe easy. Rage has a much deeper vehicular combat system and allows the player far more customization. There's even racing and combat mini-games in some of the cities where players can unlock more options for weapons, upgrades, etc. for their vehicles.
-Save System: This is my primary complaint for the game, and a deal breaker for some. Auto-save points are very infrequent and happen seemingly at random, so save very often to avoid losing hours of progress.
-Ending: While I don’t necessarily dislike the ending itself, it does feel somewhat abrupt and short. I guess the game is more about the journey than the ending and you can take some solace in the fact that the ending feels like a setup for another game.
If I really want to be nitpicky, some of the death animations for enemies are pretty poor and look almost comical, like a bad 70's action flick. Overall though, Rage is a pretty solid game and a great new IP. With developers more and more rehashing and releasing older games with one or two new features (Call of Duty, Madden, I'm looking at you) and selling them as full priced games, a new franchise is most welcome. We as consumers have a responsibility to stand up to game-makers who repackage the same game over and over. But since that's probably not going to happen (Modern Warfare 3 grossed over $1 billion after 16 days) the least we can do is support the lesser known and new gaming franchises.