[Game Review] RAGE (PC version)

From Commander Keen on MS-DOS to popular titles/series like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, id Software has never failed to disappoint. They are one of the frontrunner pioneers when it comes to graphics, violence, and gore in video games. This mix of graphical prowess with a uniquely high level of bloodshed and brutality has captured gamers’ eyes, hearts, and minds for many years. In fact, id Software won an Emmy in 2007 and were again honored in the 2008 Emmy awards!

The company’s real success started with the first iteration of Wolfenstein 3D where they introduced an unprecedented level of 3D graphics (it was unprecedented at the time). This pioneering trend continued with the release of Doom: Again a beautiful game – unparalleled at the time – that amazed gamers everywhere. A few years later id Software shocked gamers worldwide (again) with the release Quake, sporting id Software’s cutting edge brand new fully 3D game engine.  Skip 15 years forward and we now have id Software’s latest project, RAGE.

RAGE has been one of the most, if not the most, hyped up games of 2011 with trailers of its gore, guts, and glory and the new id Tech 5 game engine appearing all over the ‘net. The game trailers promised to deliever on the id Software quality we have some to know and love. Gamers were drooling, just itching to get their hands on this beast. Was it worth the wait? Let’s take a look.

Quick Verdict

With all it’s hype, RAGE was expected to deliver. And it delivered… a game full of bugs and dull gameplay. If you can withstand the problems – that may or may not be patched in the future (don’t hold your breath) – RAGE is a semi-viable buy for any id Software and/or 3D shooter fan. That is a big if.

Full Review

Gameplay

You start RAGE in an ark, the last of humanity desperately trying to survive and preserve the human spirit. You enter cryosleep and the screen fades; flash forward a hundred years and you wake up to find yourself the only living survivor in the aforementioned ark. Must like what Lost did to your psyche, you will find RAGE doing at the start: Questions will form and buzz around in your head and keep gnawing at you. However, whereas Lost drew out the suspense for almost six years (and in fact didn’t even answer all the questions it brought up), in RAGE things are revealed a bit more quickly.

Dan Hagar, Your Savior

At the beginning of RAGE you complete a flurry of quests that help answer some (hopefully most) of the questions you may have. You meet the man, pictured above, that saves your sorry ass and learn quite a bit about the RAGE storyline. However, after the first few missions, where your curiosity is fed and you repay your debt to the man that saved your life as you exited the ark, you will constantly find yourself asking questions such as ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ or ‘What the hell is the point of this?’ Past the first few missions, there is very little reason to progress through the rest of the game. The story (if you can even call it that) is shallow and meaningless; you might even find yourself making up your own story to replace the pathetic one that exists. If I were to put a number on it, I would say I was really only engaged in the story during the first 2 hours of the game. The 18 hours after that were just simply dull.

Okay so the story is subpar; but the actual gameplay may still have substance, right? The mission gameplay is at least fulfilling, challenging, and somewhat meaningful. Right? Right? Wrong. The vast majority of missions consist of the following sequence of events:

  1. Accept quest
  2. Drive to your quest destination
  3. Enter quest area
  4. Shoot everything that moves
  5. Leave quest area
  6. Drive back and finish quest

That’s it. That is what you will be doing for most of the time you are playing this game. Heck, even the enemies are not very challenging and it is nearly impossible for you die (even on the hardest difficulty). Despite RAGE’s diverse cast of NPCs, there are only two ways enemies deal with you. They either hide behind cover and shoot bullets occasionally (ranged enemies) or charge at you (mutants and melee enemies). After a while you get that ‘Ugh I have to go there and kill everything AGAIN?’ feeling and it really doesn’t help that it’s so mind numbingly easy to kill that even a monkey [with a weapon] could do it.

The only redeeming quality to RAGE’s gameplay is the pace of weapons and ammo. RAGE does a great job of providing players the right tools for the job and demonstrating the weaknesses and strengths of each weapon and ammunition type. From the mind-control crossbow to the razor blade knuckles all the way to the c4 and rocket launchers, RAGE has a diverse array of weaponry and ammunition at your disposable. Each weapon is gratifying to use, from a reaction to each bullet you fire to the way enemies blow up gruesomely when grenades are thrown at them.

All things considered, gameplay is fairly poor in my opinion; but it does have its redeeming qualities.

Gameplay Score: 70/100

Graphics

Yes I did just blow that guy’s head off – OH SHIT!

In the discussion of gameplay, towards the end I mentioned gruesomely blowing up enemies. This aforementioned graphics is just about the only good graphical part of the game. Blowing peoples’ body parts off fulfills out inner, dark carnal desires; the way the enemies react to each of your bullets and melee attacks feels just right; making enemy remains and blood splayyer everywhere after you rocket launcher or grenade them makes you think you an artist. These particular animations deliver to the id Software standards we have come to respect over the years. I wish I could say the same about everything else.

The graphics for RAGE, in theory thanks to the id Tech 5 engine, should be cutting edge, textures should be crisp and sharp, and generally be (gorey) eye candy for all. However, a slurry of graphical bugs and issues surround the PC version of the game that essentially kill what should have been the highlight of the experience. Hours after RAGE was released, posts upon posts, articles upon articles, and complaints upon complaints found their way on the World Wide Web about issues with RAGE‘s graphics: Texture popping here, blurry textures there, NPC flickering randomly… there was (is) just no end to the graphical bugs.

This is just one example of graphical bugs.

The boring storyline and mundane gameplay, as previously mentioned, are an issue. These graphical problems just make the RAGE experience that much more worse… so much so that I had to force myself to drag on with this game to finish it (20 hours of this is not fun, trust me).

To try to rectify these graphic issues, there have been a flurry of patches, driver updates, and what not; but many people, including myself, find the issues to still be persistent after the updates/patches. It has been almost two weeks since RAGE‘s release and now the verdict from id Software is that graphics card drivers are at fault. I’m not much of a programmer so I have no choice but to trust them. However, I can say this much: I expected much more from a company like id Software.

When it works, the id Tech 5 engine works well.

Now, in defense of id Software, there are some rare occasions the game actually does as intended. On these rare occasions, the visuals are just stunning and awe inspiring, as shown by the image below. However keep in mind this is maybe 5% of the time. The other 95% of the time you will find yourself hating life because you feel like you got a blast from the past with old outdated textures and bugs: So many bugs… please make it stop. (Yes, I know I am exaggerating the numbers a bit, but I hope you get my point.)

Graphics Score: 60/100

Sound

The sound is ear candy; each individual piece of audio feels just perfect where it is and fits in just right. The background audio creates the appropriate level of immersion to the game coupled with the contextualized sound. Everything from the ring of a radio you just picked up into your inventory to the loading servos on the authority machine gun feels real and immerses you in the game. (Well, I think they sound real anyway — I have never used such weapons in real life myself.) As sad as it is, in my opinion, the sound of RAGE is probably the most fitting and best part of the game.

Sound Score: 90/100

Final Verdict

RAGE is a game that promised a lot but and delivered very little; and from a company that delivered on a regular basis in the past, this release feels like a slap to the face of gamers everywhere. RAGE feels more like a ‘Hey developers look at our shiny new engine, use it please!’ and ‘Oh yeah… hey gamers we made this just to show off our new game engine; the game itself is absolute shit. Still, you can have it for $60!’ than a ‘What an awesome game. Period.’

That being said, if id Software do manage to iron out all the graphical glitches and bugs, this game will shine graphically and gruesomely much like the franchises of past from id Software; an, hey, if the bugs are patched, maybe we can hope for some updates to the actual gameplay to make it more interesting and less repetitive.

Here is my final take on this game. If we ignore the glitches, the bugs, and the boring repetitive gameplay, this is a good game to play through once and worth trying for any id Software and/or 3D shooter fan. When they actually work as intended, the visuals are stunning and beautiful; maybe even worth the $60 alone for any gamer that has hardware that can support RAGE.

Final Verdict:  70/100

Think I was too harsh? Let me know in the comments. Want a shot at trying RAGE for yourself? Keep an eye out, as we have another giveaway coming up.  ^_^

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3 comments

  1. Mustafa
    Author/

    To be fair to duke, it was a game that switched so many hands and so many engines, etc. I think it was in development for 12 years or something ridiculous. Hell the November 1997 PC Gamer featured an article on Duke Nukem Forever!

    That being said, dead island also had some issues, but not nearly to the extent RAGE did. And right now dead island is a beautiful game and a very engaging one at that. RAGE was just… ugh… I don’t even want to talk about it. If you win a copy from our giveaway make sure you let me know if you think i am wrong!

  2. Brent

    Ouch Must… Rip them another one won’t cha?

    Can’t say anything about the game myself but it has been hyped up pretty high all over the place…

    Was also quite disappointed with dead island and Duke. See a pattern here?