RAGE Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: RAGE (Xbox 360)
Release: October 4, 2011
Genre: Action FPS / RPG Hybrid
Developer: id / Bethesda
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Players: 1-2 Local / 2-4 Online
MSRP: $59.99 US
ESRB Rating: M for Mature

RAGE is first person shooter pioneer id software’s latest entry into the gaming market place. This is their first game developed completely in-house since DOOM 3.  Let’s see how id did in meeting fan’s high expectations.

“After an asteroid impacts Earth, humanity attempts to rebuild. Sheltered in cryogenic lifeboats, survivors emerge years after impact to a devastated planet where some of mankind survived in struggling settlements or murderous bandit clans, while horrific mutants roam the dead cities. And a mysterious tyrannical government is on the hunt… for you.”

The game opens with a gorgeous cinematic of an asteroid approaching and striking the Earth. The next thing you know, your arc has opened, you awake from suspension, and you are the only survivor aboard your ark. You exit the arc and step into the post-apocalyptic steam-punkish Wasteland of RAGE.

The first minute playing this game left two impressions with me. The first was the amazing visuals.  RAGE is absolutely stunning visually.  The eye-candy is endless and in every polished detail.  The second was the glassy smooth movement controls. Everything is responsive and natural, the kind of integration that makes the controller vanish and puts you right in the game. Even the vehicle handling is excellent. The only drawback here, all racing in RAGE is third person with no ability to change your view.

Weapon selection is more along the lines of traditional FPS games, with just one of each type of weapon you will need.  Certain weapons can only be crafted from parts, such as sentry-bots and advanced wing-sticks (think smart boomerang made of three razor-sharp blades used to silently lop the heads off of enemies).  The inventory system is elegant and simple as it groups like items automatically and just shows you a total count or total value.

Geographically, there is one small settlement and two larger cities in RAGE. The settlement serves as a primer to introduce you to weapons, vehicles and the way missions and economics work in the game. Very soon you move on to the first real city, Wellspring, which serves as the central game hub for the first disc. Here is where most of the NPCs reside to provide missions and supplies, a vehicle garage and a race track. Subway Town provides basically the same resources for disc two.

In each city there are several gambling mini-games to be played in order to win (or lose) money:

  • RAGE Frenzy – This is a Pokémon style card game.
  • Five Finger Filet – This is a pattern / timing game.
  • Tombstone – This is a pure game of chance using dice.
  • Strum – This is a musical pattern game.

In addition to the mini games:

  • Racing – Each the cities has a race track where you can compete in a variety of racing events.
  • Mutant Bash TV – You are put into an arena and must survive waves of enemies.

Do not confuse the RAGE Wasteland with the Fallout Wasteland. RAGE is touted as an “open world” game, but it is not very open at all. The connections from the cities to the mission sites are called the Wasteland and it serves as roads and a small battleground for vehicular combat. Outside of the mission sites and the cities there just isn’t anything to explore. Even the mission levels are linear with no room to wander. Granted this is firstly a first person shooter, but the RPG elements of the game leave you wanting more as there are far fewer destinations and missions than in Fallout 3, New Vegas or Borderlands

The multi-player player portion of the game is a completely separate experience from the main campaign, meaning there is no multi-player campaign. Instead, there are separate stories called Wasteland Legends. These are separate storylines from the campaign and are based on some of the tall tales told in the wasteland. This is the only part of the game that supports split-screen play.  Why no split-screen racing?

Overall, there really is a ton of stuff to do in RAGE, and all of it controls as good as it looks, however, the RPG fan in me says there should have been more.  More story.  More locations.  More missions.  And this brings me back to where I started; expectations.  I expected the “open world” to be like Fallout and Borderlands, big and sprawling.  RAGE isn’t.

The story feels like a pilot episode to a much bigger story.  RAGE is clearly meant to be a franchise starter leaving a lot of places for the story go.  The multi-player part of RAGE is fun, but completely separated from the campaign portion of the game.  Even the multi-player racing feels tacked on, like an after-thought.

Taking into consideration these minor disappointments, RAGE is a fantastically made game that is a pleasure to play, nearly bug-less on consoles (there are video driver issues on PCs that AMD and Nvidia are working to resolve), and completely immersive.  My biggest problem with RAGE is wanting more.

  • Visually Stunning
  • Glassy Smooth Controls
  • Even The Driving Is Excellent
  • Detached Multi-player Experience
  • Story Falls Short

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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