RAGE is the company’s long awaited new IP, but in an attempt to keep up with the latest gaming trends, there’s now a big open-world, vehicles to drive, and a more-than-basic story to follow. RAGE is still an excellent game in design and gameplay, but it’s obvious the game is most comfortable when you’re frantically having to bat away swarms of mutants, or the creepy scenes in a crumbling, bloodied hospital. id certainly haven’t lost their skill of creating intense, edge-of-your-seat action sequences, but the more delicate art of fabricating an intriguing story, characters you care about and a living breathing world is not quite there yet.
RAGE is set in a dusty, apocalyptic Earth that suffered a devastating meteor strike that reshaped the world as we know it. However, mankind managed to bury themselves underground in things called Arks with the aim of colonising Earth when the event had subsided. You play as one of these survivors. After your Ark ship reopens with everyone dead aside you, you have to try and survive in this barren land inhabited by mutants, bandits and humans. Soon you hear about The Authority, the entity policing the country, and the Rebels; humans trying to overthrow them. It’s one of the most generic plots around short of a zombie apocalypse.
But whilst storytelling is not RAGE’s strong point, combat is. Blasting yourself out of bloody mayhem has never been better. Especially with the wide variety in enemies at display. The mutants, although weak, clamber along walls and leap off objects, and tend to swarm in groups. More armoured enemies like the Gearheads require a few more pummels from the shotgun before they go down. It can be a bit too tempting to just stick to the trustworthy shotgun/crossbow combination though.
Whilst the combat refines the classic FPS experience, it doesn’t innovate on it. The silent crossbow gives the illusion of stealth, but you won’t get far until you’re spotted and the whole area is alerted. There a few extra gadgets you can use, windsticks, remote-controlled explosives and EMP grenades are but a few, however, there’s nothing that revolutionises on the gameplay which can lead to a bit of repetition.
The gameplay is well-paced with suitable slow-down times between large action sequences. These normally take the form of exploring the home world, chatting to local town’s people, gathering new quests and racing. RAGE seems to lack an emotional connection with the player which makes the story lose impact. It never gets round to making the gamer care about the struggle between the Authority and Resistance. The characters, although well animated and voice acted, never get fully realised and so don’t provide as the emotional anchor to the story.
The other sections of the game are well done, but not outstanding. RAGE tries its hand at racing, and the successful blend of car physics in an FPS engine is impressive. You can upgrade your car with power-ups and weapons, and it’s fun blowing up enemy vehicles. The lack of an incentive to do this (which was filled with the multiplayer in the full game) may make car combat seem like a waste of ammo and money.
That being said, the level of detail poured into each environment in RAGE is stunning. The inside levels impress the most, with a good variety in scenery and a brilliant eye for detail. Outside, the towering desert cliffs and crumbling highways still remain staggering. A true masterpiece.
The game does suffer from a serious case of texture/object pop-in. I didn’t notice it when I started, but as you play for a while, you can’t stop but pay attention to the people that appear just in the corner of your eye. This purely graphical error takes a little away from the huge experience, but is not game-breaking.
Saving is another thing that breaks the continuum of the experience. Even though the game automatically saves before every mission, it never saves within one. This means you will have to save constantly throughout if you don’t want to be sent right back to the beginning because you died on the last boss. Going into the menu every time is annoying and takes you away from the intense, atmospheric world of RAGE.
Whilst RAGE does not innovate on the FPS formula, nor does it reinvent the RPG experience, it is still a devilishly satisfying run-and-gun shooter akin to the more classic titles like Doom or Quake. It’s easily the most graphically advanced games on the Mac App Store, and we hope to see more like it in the future.
Description: id’s New FPS
Pros: Exhilarating and creepy shooter scenes, refines the FPS formula, platform-dominating graphics.
Cons: Basic and unimpactful story, forgettable characters, too tempting to go with the shotgun/crossbow combination throughout, does not innovate in gameplay.