Rage, a first-person shooter (FPS) which was released a while back (and available for online rental or purchase), is the latest title to take players into a post-apocalyptic world full of mutants, ravaged landscapes and junkyards.
What surprised me about Rage is that this video game almost has a Steampunk vibe, with many of the locations feeling like resurrected Old West towns with steam-powered machines, throwback clothing and makeshift buildings. In many ways, Rage feels like a visit to a very rough, rugged 1800s movie set with a handful of modern technology and plenty of races, rifles and explosions.
Rage is very satisfying as a FPS option. Combat is engaging, and the artificial intelligence (AI) of your opponents is both a challenge and believable, and there is a potential for stealth and tactics normally absent in post-apocalyptic video games. For example, if you encounter a group of enemies standing in water, it’s a perfect excuse to whip-out your electric crossbow and take them out from afar.
I was surprised by the implementation of a racing game within Rage, and even more so by the amount of enjoyment I had while playing this game-within-a-game element. While the tracks aren’t super detailed or incredibly challenging, there are enough types of races and increasing difficulty to make this feature a worthwhile way to gain much needed car upgrades and supplies. New vehicles, more challenging opponents and some storyline tie-ins make the racing mini-game rather enjoyable, especially if you need a break from the first-person perspective.
Another surprising but satisfying aspect of Rage is the crafting system. Players pick up or purchase components to various tools and devices, and can build them on the field for use during missions after memorizing the schematics. The lock grinder is especially useful, and I highly recommend taking either a completed one or the components for it every time you leave the safe haven.
Multiplayer is limited to a few modes isolated from the primary story lines, but fortunately you can go head-to-head with another gamer in offline mode-a rare treat compared to many other new release titles that have required Xbox Live for multiplayer of any sort. Whether it’s racing or various missions full of enemies and explosions, the Rage co-op is a worthwhile addition to the game package.
But what was the truly most unsatisfying part of Rage? Definitely the ending – but I won’t spoil it for you.
One mandatory element of a great FPS video game is a compelling world, great storyline, or a series of events that triggers an emotional response from the player-all the better to suck you into the game and enrich the first-person perspective, you see – but Rage barely makes it on this rule.
As far as post-apocalyptic worlds are concerned, Rage’s environment only differs from the usual themes in that it is visually stunning. I wish I could say that there was something in the protagonist’s experiences, or the characters you meet along the way, that made me want to learn more about the plot. Unfortunately, that simply wasn’t the case; my enjoyment came from exploring this version of reality and how the survivors had adapted to rebuild civilization.
The graphics for Rage are extremely detailed, which actually made it a difficult video game for me to play as someone who occasionally suffers motion sickness during FPS titles. All that attention to detail in the landscape was not lost on me, however; Rage’s environments have lots of interesting elements to drink in while you run by shooting mutants.
I found that Steampunk feel of this title was only enhanced by the amazing level of detail the developers put into Rage’s every city, landscape and sewer. From the makeshift cars to the thrown-together outfits complete with old fashioned top hats and pocket watches, Rage really is a feast for the eyes.
While the audio isn’t quite as polished, the voice acting throughout the game is satisfying even if a bit cliché at times, and the audio during combat is believable and engaging. Bonus points are awarded to this title for having Claudia Black and John Goodman among the voice actors.
Final Verdict: 7.5/10
Rage is a great game for the die-hard FPS fans out there. Gamers who want a vivid atmosphere, a decent weapon selection, and a moderately engaging storyline aren’t likely to be disappointed with this one. The multiplayer is surprisingly challenging, though arguably Rage processes from easy to extra challenging rather awkwardly during regular mode. The characters you encounter are interesting enough to make the trip through the various lands enjoyable, and Rage’s team continues on with the cutting-edge application of facial features and body movements first (and honestly, better) captured with L.A. Noire.
Rage is currently available on the Playstation 3 system at Redbox kiosks across the country, and the $2 per night rental charge makes it even more budget-friendly to play test these newer titles before purchasing.
Unless you ravenously devour each and every FPS title of good quality, I recommend trying this one before you purchase. The replay value is fairly minimal, but Rage isn’t a bad way to spend a few evenings walking on the post-apocalyptic side of reality.