I’ve recently acquired a copy of Rage, the first person shooter developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. It seemed like a pretty decent line up and I was quite excited to return to a post apocalyptic world. Something, in my opinion - along with zombies and Coca Cola, that never gets old. I spend hours running around the Capital Wasteland of Fallout 3, oogling the scenery, running around, jumping, climbing trees and historical monuments alike and I wouldn’t have minded if Rage was like this, if only to give me a change of scenery that I haven’t explored to the max.
At first glance, these two games appear suspiciously similar. You play as a character buried in a hole for the past couple of hundred years after a world destroying event. The idea was probably to have you and all your mates resurface and repopulate the planet with your super smart and agile babies but of course things never work out the way your superiors planned and you wake up, alone with the corpses of all your dead mates. Why the system’s failure decided to spare you and not them is always anybody’s guess. But, lucky you. You get rounded up by a random person who saves you from one of the wasteland’s many psychotics and henceforth you are at the mercy of every Tom, Dick and Harry’s side quest request.
I struggled getting into Rage and not from lack of trying. Although it possessed some awesomely spectacular scenery, Rage… well, never really had anything more than that. It’s not styled like Fallout where it’s essentially a first person shooter RPG combination. And, Fallout 3, (despite the somewhat tedious introduction that it has) gives you a mission. It gets you involved. What you do with this mission in the face of numerous side quests is up to you but it’s there, waiting for you. Rage doesn’t really give you anything more than a wretched buggy that had me wishing for Mass Effect’s Mako and a whole bunch of really irritating NPC’s who don’t so much as take a second to explain to you what’s happened in the past hundred years. Yes, I know I’m supposed to go out and shoot stuff. That’s why I bought it. But… you know. Why? Why should I shoot those fellows instead of you?
On the topic of shooting things, I have to confess that Rage has some of the best combat dynamics that I’ve seen in a while. Shooting your assailants never gets tedious because they have very good reactions, almost realistic. Some games (*cough* Mass Effect 2 *cough*) claims that you have to shoot your opponents in the knee to cripple them but you never really see a difference in their attack save for the fact that they might now be running in slow motion. With Rage, it’s significantly different. Opponents respond with frightening accuracy to where you hit them. Shooting someone in the knee will have him fall down and quickly drag himself to cover while he’s cursing at you in pain. If you aim too high with a head shot, you shoot off your opponent’s helmet instead of just randomly hitting him. It’s the one feature from this game that I really wish all shooters would have.
That buggy driving is not. I’m infamously dyslexic when it comes to racing games, despite having grown up on titles like Need for Speed and Road Rage. I just never quite got the hang of it and having this element invade my wasteland shooting experience was just a little bit irritating. Sure, I could walk, but I’d soon find myself outmatched and out paced by other enemies who clearly took a stunt driver’s course before they decided to take me on.
The main plot line of the game is only revealed several hours after you started trudging around the dust searching for some ungrateful sod’s contact lens and by that time, I couldn’t help but feel that the citizens deserved what they got… I stopped playing after that, so I can’t give you much insight into the end. The thing was that Rage made me think of Fallout 3 so much that I found myself starting up yet another game of lone wanderer wasteland wandering instead of finishing it. I’m not saying Rage is bad, but it’s not unique. And frankly, there’s been titles before it that did what it did much better. Even Borderlands (wasteland, hello!) gave you something to work with from the beginning. Rage is just a pretty shooter with invading elements of racing.
Much like putting Angelina Jolie into Gone in 60 Seconds…
Rage is available for PS3, XBox360 and PC.