It’s been roughly fifteen years since id Software last released a new IP but after waiting very patiently the time is upon us in the form of RAGE. Considering id Software are pretty much the fathers of the first person genre, there have been high hopes for RAGE and anticipation to see whether id Software can bring something fresh to a heavily clustered genre filled with very similar games. Can RAGE crown id Software as the first person kings once again?
The world is about to be hit by asteroids and as a last attempt to preserve human life, select members are put into stasis inside Arks and launched into outer space to one day come back to Earth when it is once again safe to inhabit. Fast forward over a hundred years and you, as an Ark survivor, have landed back on earth and find that there were survivors of the cataclysmic event both human and mutant. After helping out some locals fight off the bandits who are causing trouble to the honest citizens of this new world, you must take up your weapons and use your unique abilities as an Ark survivor to try fix the wrong that has befallen this new world.
The first thing to say about RAGE is the world isn’t the largest you will have seen in video games but the sheer beauty of it will have you forgive that. I guess it’s not how big it is but what you do with it, right? The graphics are simply amazing and the finest detail has gone into every object in the game with a few bland textures here and there but nothing too distracting. The first time you enter the town of Wellspring, which will happen within the first hour of the game, your jaw will drop at how detailed it is and as you explore all the different nooks and crannies you’ll appreciate all the time and effort that has gone into crafting this beautiful world. The Wasteland, the areas between the story locales and towns, are little more than roads that take you from A to B while you kill a few bandits here and there and even though they may appear vast, you will very rarely exit your buggy to go exploring because there is nothing out there to explore. This seemed like a waste of what could have been a very interesting world to investigate but the various bandit camps and other areas you do see are large enough to satisfy your need for exploration.
Each time you take on a story mission, you will end up having to drive to the location and then click on a door or hatch to enter a new zone where the mission takes place. You are then given your task and must navigate the area until you complete it. By the time you have finished the assignment, you usually end up right back at the start of the location and can easily exit and go claim your reward. It seemed a little strange at times to be in the room right next to your objective and having to go round the houses to get there, but it wouldn’t be much of an adventure if you simply walked in and picked up whatever you needed now would it? To complete these mission you have a plethora of weapons at your disposal ranging from your classic pistol to an off the rails rocket launcher. The great thing about RAGE, and something that keeps the game feeling fresh, is the variety of enemies that you will encounter along the way. The bandits have completely different ways of attacking you and certain weapons will be more effective on them. The Ghost Clan for example are very acrobatic and are always climbing on walls, swinging on poles and jumping out the way of your gunfire, so your accuracy is tested here and it’s better to sneak around and take your targets out before they start moving. On the other side we have The Gearheads who are probably the more intellectual clan you will encounter. These fellows are armoured up so your pistols and crossbows will do very little damage to them but grab a shotgun and it’s a different matter as you can blast their helmets off and then take out your pistol to finish them off. That is if you can fight past their sentry bots and turrets or dodge their traps that set up throughout their power plant.
The sentry bots and turrets that belong to The Gearheads can also be crafted by your character as there is a fairly decent engineering system built into the game and requires you to find or buy components to construct them and other goodies, like special ammo or health kits. If after a hard day’s work fighting bandits and saving the world, and you fancy some fun and games, the cities of The Wastelands can provide a number of entertainment options. A trip to the local bar offers you a chance to make some money playing cards, which you build a deck from cards you’ve collected in The Wastelands and plays like a simplified Magic the Gathering. If you think you’re fast enough, you can try your hand at a five-finger fillet game, where you must use quick reactions to land the knife between your fingers; the longer you can keep the streak going, the more money you can earn. On the streets of town there is a game of chance involving a holographic sheriff and the roll of a dice, to see if can take down some mutants in three rounds or less. If you want to test your skill then you will want to look for the racetrack.
Aside from making some money in the story mode, id Software have broken away from the regular deathmatch multiplayer that is found in most first person shooters and opted for a racing game instead, using the buggies that you drive in the main story. This multiplayer is surprisingly fun and has you battle against three other people to drive to beams of light that constantly change position to gain points. If you manage to drive into three beams in succession you will gain bonus points but considering your enemies will be firing rockets, laying traps and ramming you, this is a lot tougher than it sounds. Next to this RAGE has a co-op mode called Legends of the Wasteland which allows you and a friend to go through some levels together and battle the mutants, bandits and other clans in some short missions, based off of stories some of the characters in the main story have mentioned. These are fun and considering they can also be scaled with the same difficulty system as the main story, the nightmare mode ones will be somewhat of a challenge and entertaining enough to play more than once.
RAGE has certainly delivered as a step forward in first person shooters and is a refreshing change from the same old games that are released year-in year-out. It’s a shame the main story isn’t a little longer and even doing all the side quests and finding all of the collectables, it still only lasts twenty-five hours or so. The ending will also leave you a little dissatisfied but overall the experience was short and sweet and most certainly worth the money, which is not something that can be said with a lot of releases these days.