Rage

I’ve owned Rage for a few weeks now, and have played enough of it that I felt I could give some proper impressions.

I’m an old school gamer when it comes to id Software, makers of Rage. I go back to the Doom days and when multiplayer involved dialing up a friend directly with my 28.8bps modem for some deathmatch action. I remember waiting anxiously in 1996 for Quake‘s demo to become available for download on AOL’s servers, and then waiting an hour while it did, only to fail 30 seconds before completing. And then when it did finally download (after yet another hour), I remember playing those first 6 levels and being amazed at what a true 3D first-person shooter could look like (though, to be fair, Terminator: Future Shock was first by several months, powered by X(n)Gine… God, I’m Internet Old).

So I’ve been a fan of id for a while. Which is what made Rage a sure purchase.

And it looks amazing. As you’ve probably read on numberous reviews of the game, Rage is really an incredible looking game. The scenery and characters are just jaw-dropping- easily the best I’ve ever seen on Xbox or PS3. And what really struck me was how fast the game performs. The game recommends installing each DVD to disk for optimal performance, which would chew up about 22GB total. I opted not to, and I haven’t seen any problems. The game runs smoothly, almost ridiculously so, for how good it looks. The open world the game has provided is seamless as you race through the dessert roads and ruined highways. When arriving at a new town or mission environment (like the Dead City), load times are quick. Id has done a great job with game performance because I haven’t found one cause for complaint.

Everyone makes the comparison to Borderlands, and for good reason. Having played both, I’ve found Rage more enjoyable. It feels like a more focused, much prettier version of the former. Oddly enough, playing Rage makes me want to pick up Borderlands again and give it another try.

Being a RPG / FPS hybrid, Rage‘s roleplaying elements are light. There are quests to perform, but you do not level up your character as you would in a traditional RPG or Borderlands. There are no experience points to build up; rather, the quests will either provide you with schematics (for you to craft items with), upgrades to existing abilities / weapons, or simply a goal to accomplish to move the plot forward. While we’re on the subject of Plot, there isn’t much to it. This isn’t Mass Effect that you are playing, but this is easily the best story any id game has featured (which isn’t saying much, isn’t it?). Like the latter entries in the Quake series, the story is to setup the enivonrment in which you find yourself trying to survive. In this case, you play as a guy who was sent up in an orbital ark in suspended animation to survive an asteroid crashing into Earth. You crash back to Earth, but much later than you were supposed, to find Earth’s civilization in tatters, mutants roaming the land, and society is in the grip of the dystopian Authority.

The gunplay is enjoyable and easy to pick up once you get the hang of the controls, which are intuitive. The level design is very atmospheric despite the limited color palette; but also, the levels are very linear. You’ll have no problems progressing or finding where you need to go, which makes it not quite so open world after all. At least the levels wind up being circular; you won’t need to backtrack to leave the mission area, as by the time you reach the end, you can either zipline your way down to the entrance or have the exit nearby.

One disappointing aspect of the game is the lack of real multiplayer. Sure, there is an online component that involves racing and vehicular combat, but there are no traditional deathmatch modes. Considering id Software’s pedigree, I’m very surprised about this.

Content-wise, there’s plenty to go through. Aside from the story quests, there are Job Boards (side missions you can take to earn extra cash), a large number of races to partake in, several mini-games including a Magic: The Gathering-style card game, delivery quests (which really just another form of racing), Bash TV (an arena-style set of challenges), and miscellaneous objects to accomplish in the game world. I hope to see id supplement this game with single-player DLCs, as the game just looks too amazing not to expand.

Rage is not a perfect experience, but is very enjoyable. The lack of real multiplayer may be a dealbreaker for some, but the single-player is solid enough to purchase this alone.

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