First shown at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference back in 2007, Rage had the internet abuzz after a landmark tech demo led by John Carmack himself. Not only was it the best-looking game many of us had ever seen, it also marked a major return for id Software, their last mainline project being 2004’s Doom 3. Over the past two decades the studio played a central part in remoulding the FPS genre into what it is today.
However, when Rage finally landed in 2011, it wasn’t the ground-breaking revolution many had been expecting. Though by no means a poor – or even average – shooter, Rage failed to innovate in the areas where it mattered most, also arriving at a time in which genre fatigue was alarmingly prevalent.
Rage’s crowning aspect is simply how great the game looks. Even two years after its release, it is still head and shoulders above most games currently on the market, even those boasting AAA production value. The cynic in me always doubted that the finished product wouldn’t live up to Carmack’s showing on stage but it did, and that alone deserves merit.
This is mainly due to the fact that Rage runs on id Tech 5, the same game engine being used in upcoming next-gen titles including The Evil Within and Wolfenstein: The New Order. Environments are huge and crammed with rich detail, complemented by a diverse spread of settings that help to offset the dominant beige and browns of Rage’s post-apocalyptic Earth.
The game also boasts a consistent frame rate as well as refined physics and animation. Blasting an oncoming enemy in the foot, for instance, will force them to stumble convincingly, whereas death blows are usually followed up by a satisfying rag doll effect.
In short it looks brilliant though there is one problem most console gamers will have come across. You see, for all its detail and beauty, Rage’s visual spell is broken whenever moving at high speed or after pivoting suddenly. Do either and you’re likely to be met by an amalgam of blurred textured that begin to pop in after a few seconds have passed. It’s far from criminal yet dispels the illusion, especially when loading textures on huge crevices and towering skyscrapers.
In a genre where just about everything has been done and repeated a hundred times, it’s hard to keeping knocking Rage for not changing up the formula. In fairness the game does play around with its open world structure and even has a fully-fledged vehicle combat system as well as races and time trials.
The biggest problem is how all of these elements come together. Though the first hour of Rage is extremely efficient in getting players stuck straight in, the pacing begins to dip as soon as you venture past your first settlement and into the wider world.
You will essentially be running quests for a number of clients, usually driving to a specific area and killing a set amount of enemies before returning. It’s hardly noticeable at first, considering that players are still learning the ropes, but soon becomes an issue. There are those who wont mind at all but for me, navigating through barren wastelands to locate specific pockets of gameplay stops being fun after a while. Imagine Borderlands without the densely populated areas between quest hubs.
Even when exploring inhabited areas of the wasteland, there’s still something strangely vacant in how the game plays out. Enemy waves soon become predictable and there were too many times I was forced to backtrack or reload a save due to the lack of ammunition on hand.
Whether or not you will enjoy Rage depends not only on your personal tastes, but which shooters you have played in the past. It definitely has a few interesting ideas of its own but at the end of the day fails to capitalise on them effectively.