Platform: PS3*/Xbox 360/PC/Mac
Players: 1-2 (Online: 2-6)
ESRB: Mature (Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language)
The current video game environment doesn’t have a lot of room for one-dimensional games, especially in the shooter genre. Call of Duty pretty much has that under wraps, and so most titles hitting the market try to offer something to mix up the formula, be that a new mechanic or infusion of an entirely different genre.
Rage is a game without an identity. It attempts to implement a lot of different things that aren’t at all cohesive.
Here’s an open-world game, but you’re going to drive through most of it. And there are really very few places to explore. Let’s make a game based on quests, though the game is entirely linear. Here are some side-quests with no value. It’s everything we see in RPGs except for the RPG part. Your character doesn’t really level up or have skills.
So let’s talk specifics. Rage looks great. Occasionally things get smeary as they’re loading in front of you, but for the most part, this is one of the best looking games out there.
But as much work as went into making this world look crisp, players are going to miss most of it. The open areas are strictly for driving, with nothing to be gained from exploring. You’ll only get run over by an enemy.
So once you’ve finished driving through this bleak and empty world, it’s time to traverse one of about 10 enemy-inhabited areas, most of which you’ll visit twice with a change of environment directing your new path the second time. Completely linear.
The enemies can all shout a collection of the same lines in the same voices. “Everyone retreat”, even though he’s the only one left. Beyond this, they’re limited to a very small set of actions. You’ll have no trouble picking them off one-by-one in most situations, regardless of difficulty, especially considering the odd defibrillator that pops up when you die, giving the player a second chance at life.
Back in the vehicle to get back to one of two main hubs – Wellspring or Subway Town, where you’ll receive your next quest, which will frustratingly probably send you back where you came from. For a quick break, hit up the track for a few races.
The driving is okay, but not fantastic enough to warrant the slog that is working through the twenty-some races available – most of which are incredibly similar, extremely easy and boring to boot. The time investment simply isn’t worth it.
Sick of races and linear questing? Try some of the mini-games. The card game using cards you collect across the wasteland is pretty solid, but other than that, these aren’t worth playing either unless you’re really hurting for cash, which should never happen.
One game in particular, called Tombstones, is a game where the player simply bets and whatever happens happens. The game can’t be affected and there’s only one way to bet. It’s as if there was an intern sitting around the office with only a semester of programming experience and the developers said, “Uh, here. Do this and I guess we could put it in the game.” Quite frankly, even as an intern I’d be embarrassed for that to make it into a game.
This is a game without a real theme or driving idea. There isn’t even a plot moving the game forward. Your quests are all fetches and favors, and it isn’t until the briefing for the final mission that you get a sense that you’re accomplishing something, the repercussions of which you’ll never see because the game ends just as the war is starting.
Let me reiterate – this game looks great. But that’s about it. Otherwise, it’s a bunch of various things tossed together that don’t make a functioning collective whole.