Review: RAGE

Introduction

RAGE kind of came out of nowhere for me. I wasn’t keeping up with it in the release schedules and didn’t know what to expect from it particularly. I don’t think we’d have picked it up if my wife hadn’t played a little at a trade show. Generally speaking FPS shooters aren’t our cup of tea on consoles since we came up playing them on the PC and console controls just don’t feel as accurate or useful.

RAGE is a weird sort of game, it’s sort of on the opposite end of the FPS/RPG scale from Fallout. Where Fallout is an RPG with some FPS elements tacked on, RAGE is more of an FPS with a few RPG elements tacked on. It’s not as RPG oriented as – say – borderlands but that’s probably the game to which it bears the closest comparison.

You don’t have skills or levels but, with progress, you can upgrade your weapons and vehicles, gain access to new areas and unlock new recipes for junk-built gear.

Story

The asteroid Apophis came spinning out of space towards the Earth and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. Rather than try and ward it off, civilisation hit upon a survival plan of burying a number of Arks in numerous locations around the globe, each equipped with cutting edge technology that would help jumpstart civilisation after the tumultuous effects of the asteroid strike had died down.

The Ark pioneers were the best of the best and fitted with experimental nanotechnology to help keep them alive and sustain them through their cryosleep. While Apophis came spinning in the Arks sank into the Earth with their cargo, to wait.

Something went wrong, not all the Arks emerged at once and time passed, much longer than was originally intended. Your Ark is one of these light risers and you find yourself facing a destroyed world that is not, quite as you might have expected.

The world is a wreck, a blasted wasteland dotted with scrap-built settlements and dominated by The Authority, a high technology empire, equipped with Ark technology and determined to stamp itself over the wasteland, across the globe, suppressing every other surviving town.

They also hunt Ark survivors…

Gameplay

While an FPS, RAGE is centred around mission-based play and exploration. You move around the wasteland on foot or by car from location to location completing missions to advance the plot, to unlock elements, to earn money (or certificates to improve your vehicles). Missions normally take place in their own sub-levels that you load into.

There are driving sections – races and in the wasteland – and FPS levels, interspersed with information gathering and listening in, playing gambling games and picking up the history and current state of affairs from the conversation around you.

Controls

Somehow Id have managed to make a smooth and controllable FPS control set that isn’t as horribly inaccurate as many and feels very playable, without the usual default of aim correction or dropping into a sub-game (as with Fallout). The driving controls in particular are easy to pick up and use, even for people that don’t normally like racing games. I can’t fault the controls.

Atmosphere

The chief source of the atmosphere in the game is the graphics, the wasteland and the townships are brought to life very well and the quality of the imagery is fantastic. Being a ‘silent protagonist’ you feel a bit left out and unable to role-play or make any meaningful character decisions. That removes you from the action somewhat and there are elements that are missing. The Authority remains a faceless enemy without anything to really grasp hold of or an enemy to confront. Many of the characters don’t really spring to life – though the voice acting is good. There’s just not quite enough development of characters for them to really make a proper impact on you.

Graphics

As mentioned before, the graphics are where the atmosphere really comes through and the graphics are utterly fantastic, blowing away a lot of other games completely and immersing you in the wasteland and its industrial wreckage. There can be a lag between the graphics that load at a distance and the more detailed graphics that load in after but that’s completely forgiveable.

Conclusion

A well thought out world and a different take on the apocalypse than a nuclear holocaust. It’s wonderfully executed graphically and in terms of controls and the only way it really lacks is in true depth to the various characters you meet around the wasteland and providing more information and more of a ‘face’ to the enemy. A game well worth getting and a star in the genre.

On the plus side

  • Fantastic graphics.
  • Smooth controls.
  • Interestingly different post-apocalypse.

On the minus side

  • Silent protagonist
  • Who are The Authority and why are they so bad? Who’s my enemy?
  • Lack of NPC depth.

Score

Style: 5
Substance: 3
Overall: 4

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