id Software is well known for pushing the gaming standards ahead of their time. They have games like Wolfenstein 3D in their portfolio of works, so naturally much was expected from RAGE upon its first appearance. Using their own id Tech 5 engine, RAGE is certainly one of the better looking games on the market, it's just a shame that some of RAGE's issues let it down.
One of the things I wasn't too thrilled about was the lack of a caring story. The game begins with your character crash landing into the world ruined by an asteroid. As you continue to play you'll discover that your character has some highly desired attributes. It's not the lack of originality that gets me; it's more the fact that the game lacks the ability to make you care for the story at all.
Even with the lack of gripping story developments, RAGE is still a beast of a game. Playing RAGE for the first time is a shock to the system; it's clear that id Software worked hard to craft one of the better looking games this generation. Every boulder, rock and item looks hand crafted; showing just how much attention to detail was given for RAGE.
The thing that lets RAGE's visual appeal down slightly is the amount of texture pop ins whenever motion is applied to the setting. It's no good having those mouth watering textures if their blurred for a good ten seconds on approach. Although these pop-ins can be very annoying it just goes to show how far id Software were willing to go to push the limits of these machines.
After you experience the first couple hours of RAGE it's clear to see that its priorities lie in being a fantastic shooter. Though RAGE gives you a huge stomping ground to play in, a lot of the bigger areas are only there for you to be able to drive around in your buggy. The main structure for missions will see you traveling to a specific location and shooting your way to your goal, and that is where the majority of the fun lies in RAGE.
You'll get to visit multiple settlements with many different character designs, but unfortunately many of the characters you encounter lack any real depth, making it extremely hard to care for the quests you'll be given. There is a lot to keep you busy, and in a way that makes up for the lack of depth as you'll definitely have fun trying to complete the numerous goals and objectives; It's just that in this type of game I would like to actually give a damn about what I'm being sent out to accomplish.
Along with the multiple races you can compete in with a range of different vehicles, another thing to keep you busy is collecting schematics that enable you to create both weapon mods and useful tools that help you get the most out of exploration. With the right components you are able to construct special ammunition or useful items on the fly. The ability to use different types of ammunition in each firearm definitely gives combat a feel of personalization, and it's as easy as holding down R2 and using the analog sticks to change both your gun and your ammunition type. It's definitely worth gathering as many schematics as you can, because RAGE is no easy feat and as you get to the later stages in the game you'll be forced to use more complex tactics to take down those nasties.
Enemy design is something I really love about the game. The way enemies look and move makes you even more determined to take them out, and the A.I is bloody incredible. If you manage to play through the game without getting the crap scared out of you by enemies jumping at you from nowhere, then you clearly have balls of steel. Waves of enemies will literally rush you unless you tactfully pick them off. It's possible to use stealth if you're in a more confined space, and often this will mean the difference between life and death. To fully get the edge in combat you must use everything in your arsenal, whether it's grenades or my favorite...the Wingstick, which is a boomerang like item you can throw at your foes - I suggest aiming for the head. The variety of enemies in the game will push you to stay alert as they all attack in different forms, and taking on multiple varieties of enemy at once can cause ultimate chaos.
About an hour into the game you'll be rewarded with your very own buggy, and through competing in a majority of races you'll be able to kit it out with mini guns and explosives. The driving portion isn't exactly one of my favorite points about RAGE, but it's great to have it there as it adds an extra layer of fun to the experience. You can even take the thrill of wasteland racing online and compete in 'arcadish' type challenges that will allow you to unlock a variety of unique add-ons for your vehicle.
The online fun doesn't stop there, as there are also some Co-op challenges for you and a friend to take part in. These are all separate from the single-player story arch, but taking down enemies in an attempt to secure the high score over your companion is always a satisfying experience. Ultimately though, don't expect any lasting appeal in the online portion of RAGE.
It's hard to really put an accurate score on RAGE. On one hand it's incredible to experience this world that id Software have dedicated so much of their time to and there's no denying that RAGE will offer you hours of thrilling encounters. It's an experience that's really hard to find on consoles, very rarely do you get that feeling of the uncanny out of a game that's not exactly sold as a horror experience. Weapon sounds are also one of the satisfying aspects of the game, gun shots are loud and when mixed with the kickback they give you an empowering feel.
On the other hand there are some annoying gripes to be had with RAGE, such as the lack of an autosave feature. For a game that I would consider to be a shooter first, I would have expected autosave to be a no-brainer, but instead you're forced to manually save after every hard boiled challenge, and if you're the type to forget then being spawned way back when after a death will dis-encourage you completely. Overall I would say that RAGE is definitely a game I would recommend, because it's more than worth your time, it just irks me to know that id wasn't that far off from crafting one of the most definitive games this generation.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the PlayStation 3 provided by Bethesda.