I wanted to love this game; I really did. It seemed to have so much potential, and nearly every review I found online awarded RAGE with an 8 or 9 out of 10 (or the equivalent for each different scoring system). The concept for the game was great, and I was actually quite excited to start playing. It didn’t take long for my excitement to wane, however. There was so much more that could have been done to make this game great, but in my opinion, it turned out to be a run-of-the-mill shooter with just a bit of a twist.
RAGE puts you in the shoes of an “Ark Survivor.” An asteroid hit Earth a few years back, and scientists of the day had underground cryogenic freeze facilities in place to preserve humans to repopulate the planet in case of such an emergency. My Ark was activated and I awoke from my long sleep to find myself in a total wasteland… literally. The place is called the Wasteland. It’s got a Wild West/Steampunk sort of vibe to it, but that doesn’t quite describe it right. Just like in any post-apocalyptic tale, the survivors have their fair share of issues; government corruption, bandits, rival clans, mutations, and sanitation problems.
A survivor happens to be there when I emerge from my Ark and he helps me get some clothes, weapons, and information. In order to obtain these riches, I run errands for him; go here and talk to this guy, then go over there and get some supplies, etc. Before long, he sends me off because the Authority might come looking for me and put him in danger; the Authority doesn’t take kindly to Ark Survivors. I go to a nearby city, where I run some errands for the mayor, and eventually I get caught up in a resistance movement against the Authority. I end up running errands for the resistance leader until I finally infiltrate the Authority’s capitol and activate the Arks that are still underground; the resistance plans to use these new Ark Survivors to create an army to fight the Authority.
At its core, RAGE had potential; that can’t be denied. Vehicles like ATVs, buggies, and armored cars take an important role for transportation and income. Driving these vehicles around the Wasteland is not only convenient, but it’s a load of fun as well. Outfitted with weapons, these vehicles can make plenty of bandit cars explode; the vehicular battles are great, and the handling and control reminds me of Motorstorm: Apocalypse. The vehicles can also be entered in races; the winnings allow you to buy tires, weapons, boost, and other upgrades for your vehicles. Driving these buggies around and absolutely destroying the enemies makes you feel like a total boss.
Sadly, that was one of the only high points for me. The rest of the game was mainly downhill from there. The storyline was so thin, you could’ve cut it with a butter knife. Seriously, this is the sort of plot line I can write in ten minutes at 2:00 in the morning on no sleep; there was nothing to it. I’m not trying to brag and say “I can write a better story,” but it’s true. There was hardly a plot line at all. There were no real motives or reasons for my actions until about halfway through the game, and even at that, the motives placed before me would never have driven me in reality. The story of survival wasn’t expanded upon, there was no character development, hardly any background story as to what happened during the post-meteor years. Nothing.
The missions were marred by this lack of motive. There was a decent variety to the missions; there were several different factions to fight in several different locales. I fought mutants, the Authority, bandits, and Gearheads, and the variety was great as each faction had strength and weaknesses. For example, the mutants don’t have much health, but they’re little kamikazes, and they’re annoying as crap. The Gearheads have a ton of health, but they’re not exceptionally powerful; it’s a nice variety.
Although the missions themselves had good variety, I hated the lack of motive for taking on the missions. Because there wasn’t really a strong storyline, I felt as though I was just being used as a messenger boy; a pawn. I didn’t feel like I was important, and I wasn’t compelled to greatness. I’m not kidding when I say the missions were as simple as “go here and talk to this guy; I’ll pay you nicely.” Then I go to that guy, and he tells me about a place I need to go to. I go to the place, kill the enemies, retrieve an object he needs, report back to the guy, and he tells me to report back to the other guy. Lather, rinse, repeat… a lot.
There was a disappointing lack of autosave in RAGE. The game did save automatically, but the autosaves were so few and far between that in my 12 hours of playing, I only found 3 times where the autosave overrode my manual save. To make it worse, the autosave didn’t seem to work right, so it sent me farther backwards as opposed to my manual save. I would then have to load the manual save and go from there since the autosave set me back to a place I had cleared almost an hour before.
The enemies are vicious, so I found myself saving the game every 2 to 5 minutes, which is extremely tiring and redundant. Now, RAGE takes the form of an RPG with guns, so I can understand why an RPG would include manual saves instead of autosaves. However, the campaign is perfectly linear, and there was not a single time where I thought that autosave would have possibly been a bad thing.
Speaking of saving and loading, the load times were awful! The RAGE single-player mode is on two discs, so it is recommended that the player installs both discs. I did not do this before I began the campaign, but I did so at about the halfway point. It didn’t seem to make a difference in the load times, so I think that the changes only take place when you reset the story mode back to the start. Concerning the installation, it was also supposed to help the texture loading… I noticed that there were many textures in RAGE that didn’t load, and it was a little jarring. Again, this could be chalked up to a lack of disc installation, but I’m not sure.
The gunplay wasn’t great either. Coming from the team that pretty much revolutionized the FPS genre, (id Software) I assumed that the controls would be tight. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the sensitivity to suit me, so I ended up setting it very low. I couldn’t aim well, and the controls were loose. RAGE didn’t feature an auto lock-on assist, so it took some getting used to this as well.
My final complaint is that the game lacked a sense of emotional direction, and this is partly due to the nearly nonexistent story. RAGE looks like a scary game on the outside, and the Game Informer review claims it’s quite scary. It isn’t, and this is coming from a guy who hates horror. I wasn’t scared or spooked a single time. It wasn’t emotional; it didn’t tug at my heartstrings. The game didn’t make you feel like a beastly superhero, as it was easy to die, and you did so a lot. The guys at id could have tried to play any one of those cards, but RAGE sparked no emotions in me aside from a little bit of rage, and it was a bit boring.
I can’t really fault RAGE though and give it a below average score. There’s nothing really wrong with the game, but it’s not quite right either. Aside from some great vehicular madness and decent level design, RAGE left a lot to be desired. It wasn’t the great game I had hoped and thought it would be, and it makes me very glad that I only paid $5 for it at GameStop. Had I paid more than $10, I would have felt as though I had wasted my money; in my mind, RAGE isn’t worth much more than ten bucks, guys.
What game have you played recently that left you thinking that it could have been better? Let me know in the comments below! I hope you’ve found this review helpful; my next review will be of the PS4 exclusive Resogun. Stay tuned! Leave a like or a follow if you’ve enjoyed, follow me @OpinionAsAGamer if you want, and also check out the LP channels in the “Links” tab.
Raging a Bit