[…] this game’s most impressive component is its gunplay…

“Rage Review.” Game Informer. Issue 223. November 2011. Page 99

I really thoroughly enjoyed Rage. In fact, someone from id must have insulted someones mother or something to trigger all those lackluster reviews I read or saw in the past. :P I expected something a lot less fun. Too many people seemed to have warped expectations or outright misunderstood what the game was supposed to be about. I also encountered none of the issues that seemed to dominate the usual coverage (just a glitch). Turning around as fast as possible was one of the first things I tried and I didn’t have delayed loading of textures at all (I had cache set to max though). But obviously I already played it with the first patch and current driver versions (waiting paid off… again), so either that fixed it nicely, or my PC wasn’t affected in the first place. And I’m playing on/with an AMD Radeon (descriptions stated that this brand was primarily affected, after the initial release of Rage).
In my perception id just tried to make a game like their previous ones and decided to throw in a couple of other stuff on top of _that_. That’s it. And at that, they certainly succeeded. So if now someone criticizes, that Rage’s story doesn’t hold up against Fallout’s… It wasn’t supposed to. It didn’t try to (if it would have, the story would indeed be quite unsatisfying :P). There’s just some stuff they threw in as a “bonus” (Rage has even a few mini-games – a card game, some dice betting and playing with knives). No one ever asked in older id games, why it’s only about grabbing a gun and starting to shoot at monsters. Everyone knew, that this was what they were signing up for. Maybe that’s not everyone’s cup of tea (anymore?), but it’s a little bit weird/double standard, if games like Painkiller/Serious Sam/… are applauded for delivering this exact experience and Rage is criticized, although it should be known what it’ll be like. Even games that were 13 years late, had questionable humor and offered mediocre fights found their audiences. But I don’t really mean to compare…
Although it’s certainly true that many textures in Rage were more on the blurry side than crispy sharp (something that was probably done to be super-fast on consoles – I’m guessing, I’d be stunned if this would be the limit of the engine [1]), the level of detail was still very impressive (it probably didn’t help much either, to have blurry textures in a game that was supposed to promote a technology called _MegaTexture_, of all things). In that it was like Batman: Arkham Whatever – a game that rather wants to be the “most detailed world”, than “the biggest world” and I very much prefer this design decision (more on this if I ever get to write something on Skyrim/the Bethesda open-world games :P). The levels were designed masterfully – although they turned out to be guiding the player most of the time, it hardly ever felt this way. Sometimes I felt successful for discovering an exit, when in reality, this was the sole path I could have continued on anyway. Despite that, there were still enough nooks and crannys to search for all kinds of items. The method with closed doors that needed extra items to open them, reminded me positively of Dead Space (where you have to give up power nodes for some rooms with goodies). The missions were noteworthy by themselves, there was always something going on that added a nice flair. Either there was a character that needed to be saved and accompanied the player a bit, or the “boss” of the location teased/threatened the player over speakers during the fights, or… It kept things fresh and interesting.
The character and facial animations were very good as well. Enemies don’t just drop dead or pull the always identical ragdoll routine, there are many spectacular animations, where they still run a few steps and stumble and somesuch. It’s too rare a detail, to overlook this. Few games have this; some enemies even “jump around” (e.g. using walls) before they attack, which makes them harder to hit. The last game that surprised me with something like this, was the final fight in Mass Effect 1.
What also highly spoke in favor of this game, was the really different enemies and their lairs. Missions usually have the player run into a cave, subway shaft, ruins, factory, creepy hospitals/science buildings… And nothing looks alike. Nothing feels like it’s just another tunnel. The player knows exactly where he is. Even the roads connecting important locations can be easily distinguished (driving/racing is fun btw – way cooler to drive to a mission, than being simply dropped off there). Every single of these locations is unique. There is even all kinds of crap lying around everywhere. This is something most games fail at (or don’t intend to succeed at). To me this is always a major reason, why games like… say BioShock are so superb. It took me around 16 hours to complete the campaign and I didn’t even use the job board in Wellsprings much (those seemed more on the generic side, AFAIK). That’s a lot of content. Especially for such a shooter. I’m not trying to determine which has the shortest campaign, but those usually start showing the ending credits after ~8 hours. Point for Rage, as far as I’m concerned.
On that note I was a little disappointed, that you couldn’t return to the game, after the ending credits were done. Another crack at the jobs board would have been nice, without having to start the game all over again, or reloading an earlier save.
On the more disappointing side was, that the ending reminded me of Half-Life², there was no real boss fight. I was really stunned when it just switched to the outro, after fighting normal enemies. I was just getting warmed up and expected a big boss to show every second – but that never happened. The game had only 1 real boss fight and that was quite early in the game. That felt somewhat unbalanced/unfinished. It’s like they developed missions separately and pieced it all together in the end and somehow there was nothing special left for some parts, but it was already too late to do something about it.

PS: Those wingsticks were a good addition to the player’s arsenal! I already thought the boomerang in Arcanum was quite rare and I liked it to see something similar in such a first person game. :) Is it too late to mention the engineering system, that allows the construction of various items, as long as the plans and ingredients are at hand?

PPS: Doom 4 is still happening, right?


On August 1, 2008, John Carmack, the co-founder and technical director of id Software said that Doom 4 will look three times better than Rage does, as it runs at 30 frames per second, on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, rather than 60 that Rage targets.



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