I heard mostly bad things about Rage when it first came out. In fact, I was told that the only redeeming quality of the game is that it’s possibly the best looking game of this past generation. Being my stubborn self, I couldn’t resist buying it, and I have to say that this is an underrated game, which is a shame because I’ve grown to love it. So I’m going to spend some time trying to convince you to give it a chance.
This is indeed one of the best looking games to ever grace my PS3, but that’s certainly not the only reason to play this game. Rage first and foremost supplies a great shooter experience. id Software knows what they’re doing when it comes to the shooter genre, and it shows here. Everything feels smooth and natural whether it’s an intense firefight, crafting items, or driving across the dusty wasteland. However, as good as Rage looks, it suffers from uninspired design; specifically the wasteland itself. Granted, it’s hard to make a dried up, desolate wasteland look attractive, but Fallout 3 pulled it off and set the standard: a standard that Rage failed to meet. Honestly, the lackluster wasteland is not that big a deal to me, as I never felt like I spent much time in it. You’ll spend most of your time inside bandit hideouts and small towns, which, while not really breaking new ground with their looks, feels a lot more detailed than the wasteland. Unfortunately, the problem of this lack of inspiration doesn’t end here. Rage suffers from a lack of space that allows the player to explore. The wasteland is limited to roads leading to hideouts and settlements, while hideouts and towns are the definition of linear. Not once did I feel like I found something that no one else has; that sense of accomplishment and dedication for searching every nook and cranny. However, for what little exploration the player is able to achieve, they are rewarded in full as supplies and collectibles are scattered around enough to give you reason to go a little out of your way.
On the other side of the disappointing, but certainly not game-breaking, design of Rage is the excellent gameplay that makes you forget about it. Gunplay is a blast as you fill mutants and bandits full of lead and crossbow bolts. What makes the combat standout, however, is the fantastic enemy animations. Bandits will duck behind cover and support each other, and the creepy mutants will flip, dodge, and jump around as they make their way toward you. id did an incredible job with these guys’ animations, and it really keeps the gameplay feeling fresh. Not once did I ever feel like the gunfights were getting old. New enemy types will also come into play as the game goes along to keep you changing tactics. However most of the time a change of ammo type does the trick. It’s a little bit of a balancing act as you’re constantly changing ammo as you deal with different enemies, mainly because special rounds are expensive. There’s a decent variety of weapons to be used, but it’s really the ammo types that come with each one that are what make them stand apart from each other. The addition of crafting your own healing supplies and mechanical toys also adds some variety. Being more of an engineer is just as fun as depending on your guns; and equally as deadly as you can create explosive RC cars, sentry turrets, and boomerang like weapons called Wingsticks to dispatch enemies. In all, Rage provides a fun and satisfying experience.
A good part of Rage is spent in the seat of a vehicle. Buggies and beaten up muscle cars outfitted with machine guns and rocket launchers are your main source of transportation and also a means of entertainment for citizens of the wasteland. You can spend money and credits earned through racing to beef up your ride with better weapons and other nice add-ons to defend yourself while traveling through the bandit infested wasteland. These weapons also come in handy in the races that are held in various settlements. Classic races along with rocket rallies and races with armed weapons provide a nice break from the wasteland and combat, but unlike the combat, it gets old fairly quickly and tends to be way too easy; leaving me with the feeling that this mechanic was simply added as an attempt to create a unique experience and stretch out the game to make it last a little bit longer. The addition of online racing adds a little bit of fun, but just like in the single-player campaign, it gets old fairly quickly. There are also some co-op missions that you can play with friends, but they’re only a brief distraction from the twenty hour campaign.
Though the combat is fun, Rage never does anything new to set it apart from the rest of the genre, and that’s what hurts it the most. id put a lot of effort into creating a solid gameplay experience, but failed to produce something unique. They made an effort by adding vehicular combat, but it just felt like a recycled idea ripped from Borderlands. As much of a bummer as all this is, I still can’t recommend Rage enough; especially if shooters are your thing. It’s true that Rage could have been something so much more; all the components were there, but the construction lacks inspiration. Regardless, Rage still provides a solid and incredibly fun shooter experience that you shouldn’t pass up. When you’re busy blowing the heads off bandits, all the game’s problems just melt away, and that makes Rage something awesome.