Rage Review

Developer: id Software / Publisher: Bethesda Softworks / Price: $59.99 / Rating: Mature [Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language] / Played on: Xbox 360, PS3

It’s hard to believe it but Rage represents the end of a near seven-year hiatus from major releases for id Software. A couple of iPhone games and a browser-based version of Quake barely filled the void, but its last real game was 2004’s Doom 3. So consider this review a sigh of relief, as I’m happy to report Rage is a renaissance-like return for arguably the most important development studio in the history of videogames. id approaches this game’s design and the current generation of consoles (both of which are previously uncharted territories for them) with a level confidence I’d expect from the most well-established studios of this era.

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Story

It’s easy to dismiss Rage’s post-apocalyptic setting given the frequent appearance of similar backdrops throughout our media over the last few years but it’s probably the most compelling aspect of the game. Scattered throughout the vast wastelands of the world, small pockets of humanity struggle to survive through whatever elements of technology and culture remain from before a devastating asteroid struck the world some 100-ish years earlier. The most immediate threat lies in the countless groups of bandits and feral mutants that want nothing more than to smash you in the face and steal your supplies. But always looming is the sinister and somewhat mysterious totalitarian group simply known as The Authority. This may not make the world of Rage sound special but it’s really the small touches that sell it. Some of my favorite moments emerged from just wandering around the game’s settlements or going  for a spin through the wastelands with no destination in mind. Stumbling across a group of settlers playing space dice in an alley way or experiencing your first trip through the set of Mutant Bash TV are just a couple of the many signs implying there’s a much larger culture and history to this world than what is obviously presented before you.

As for the nuts and bolts of Rage’s narrative, you take on the role of a nameless, silent protagonist emerging from an Ark, an underground cryo-pod used to preserve humans for when the end of days arrives. It won’t take long before you discover that, as an Ark human, you are a very sought-after commodity. The convoluted and unclear answer about how and why can make it easy to lose sight of your motivation to keep pushing forward. Maybe this is a subtle commentary on the perspective of “good” and “bad” but I’m just going to chalk it up to some sketchy story telling.

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Gameplay

Do you feel games similar to Fallout 3 are a little too open-ended? Or maybe Call of Duty is too linear? Well, Rage is some kind of happy medium between the two and it’s unlike anything id has done before. When you begin the game you hit a couple of smaller settlements before making your way to the game’s bigger cities. Each of these acts as a hub area for a certain portion of the game. Here you talk to settlers to pick up quests, purchase goods (weapons, ammo, engineering schematics, car parts, etc.), and enter races.

The quests, which you spend a good chunk of your time with Rage completing, are for the most part what you’d expect from a modern first-person shooter. Leaving the hub worlds and traversing across the wasteland (we’ll get into that later), you enter these more linear sections of the game that, within the context of the open world, are comparable to dungeons from an RPG. Here you’re tasked with collecting parts, killing mutants, or some combination of the two.

I’d say something like “well, of course the guns in Rage feel great, these are the guys that made the first-person shooter genre” but, it’s been so damn long since id put out a new shooter that it’s not really a given. Thankfully, they do. Just remember that this is the post-apocalypse so pistols and assault rifles come with some wear and tear. Weapons don’t feel perfect; they have just enough recoil and kickback to keep combat encounters feeling chaotic but in a good way. Each gun also comes with a couple of types of alternative rounds. For example, the crossbow can be loaded with explosive mind-control darts that allow you to take over enemies. And the rocket launcher can be filled with vehicle-seeking rockets. It’s worth mentioning that Rage isn’t really a loot-driven game like Borderlands. You acquire guns via specific story moments or through certain vendors.

However, this doesn’t mean you won’t be looting anything. There are plenty of scattered materials to find throughout Rage. Lots of it is vendor trash, but most of it can be used in the game’s engineering system. Here you can build items like a lock grinder, which allows you to open some locked doors, and bandages, which can be used for an instant heal. This is in addition to some of my favorite weapons like robotic spider turrets that will follow you around and kill enemies, and the Wingsticks, which are boomerang-like blades that will decapitate foes in oh-so satisfying ways.

And when you’re not in combat or hitting town, you’re driving. Cruising in your vehicle is a big and quite enjoyable part of Rage. The handling on the cars will feel familiar to fans of arcade racers like Burnout Paradise; they’re loose, swirly, and lots of fun. Each of the two major cities contains racing missions that can be finished to earn cars, weapons upgrades, and new parts. These races are, with the exception of a handful, completely optional.

In fact, there’s a pretty healthy amount of side-questing in Rage. In addition to the races, each settlement has mission boards and NPCs with optional content for you to explore. The main storyline is never far away and you rarely find yourself with more than three or four quests at a time but if you want to dive into everything Rage has to offer expect the 15 – 20 hours suggestion to lean to the higher numbers…there’s a lot here.

Of course, Rage has a few annoyances. It’s lacking in enemy variety, for one. Most of the game is spent taking out bandits, mutants, or the Authority. The game occasionally throws a variation on these but you rarely have to switch up combat strategies. Additionally, some of the quests take you through areas you’ve already seen, just backwards. For a game that’s so brilliantly designed it seems like an oddly lazy choice. I might also recommend experienced players check out the higher difficulty settings as I found myself cruising through Normal.

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Visuals

I’d describe Rage’s look as one part Road Warrior, one part Tatooine. And like these films of the 70’s and 80’s, there’s a real world quality (as opposed to today’s heavy use of CGI) to this environment thanks to the hand-crafted appearance of just about everything. The heavy use of unique art assets for the game’s dilapidated architecture and downtrodden NPC models goes a long way to capturing a unique aesthetic. Hell, even the canyon walls of the wasteland have a painted-on look to them (thanks in large part to the game’s use of Megatextures) that really helps sell this as an actual place.

Despite Rage’s first-person ‘shooterness,’ there’s a cinematic quality to the moment-to-moment action that’s probably induced by the game’s stellar character animations and gorgeous vistas. Some texture muddiness crops up occasionally but it’s no doubt in service of the game’s consistent 60 frames per second, an integral aspect of the “feel” of the shooting. There’s been a lot of talk about the id Tech 5 engine and even on the consoles it looks great.

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Multiplayer

If I told you seven years ago that id’s next competitive multiplayer would be exclusively car combat, you probably would have called me crazy. But that’s exactly Rage‘s multiplayer. If Twisted Metal and Quake made hot love, the offspring would come out looking something like this. It’s fast-paced and explosion-heavy. In addition to a standard team deathmatch (appropriately titled Carnage), there are a couple of objective game modes, such as Meteor Rally that requires you and up to three other players to duke it out all while trying to collect bits of meteor that are falling from the sky and deliver them to an ever-moving waypoint. Your performances are rewarded with persistent experience and the ability to unlock different upgrades for your vehicles.

If you weren’t paying close attention, you might have missed the fact that Rage also has a cooperative multiplayer mode. It’s called Wasteland Legends and in it two players (either online or split screen) make their way through “untold” wasteland moments that have no real significant bearing on the plot of the single-player but help flesh out the world a little bit. They basically boil down to nothing more than the quest sections of the game with a quick story set up at the beginning of each level.

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Bottom Line

Game developers rarely challenge themselves like id has with Rage. Not only did they decide to leave their most beloved and iconic franchises behind to try something new, but they decided to do it on a six year old platform that they’ve never developed for, a task which has sunk more than a handful of developers. Fortunately it was a wise and well-executed decision. Rage represents the team at id stepping out of a 20-year long comfort zone and (gracefully) stepping into the modern era. It’s been a long time coming and I think I can speak on behalf of gaming when I say they are most welcome.

9/10

  1. Great review. For some reason most of the other reviewers felt the need to give the game a hard time due to it being an id game. This review has convinced me to give it a spin.

  2. Your review has hurt me,
    for it is so great sir,
    now I await the day,
    Black Friday please come soon

  3. Im torn if I should get this or not, looks so good but I just got Gears a couple weeks ago

  4. Epic game :D

  5. O MY GOODNESS! comments work again! How many months has it been? I can actually go comment on things now and use this site instead of having to sit on youtube Dx FINALLY!

    By the way. Playing it right now. I agree with everything said so far :) Another good review!

  6. Game looks great! Can’t wait to sink some hours into this one. Once i get some money to buy it lol

  7. Nice review Billy your the best!

  8. I can’t believe I actually bought this game! I always believed id Software was a benchmark on fps games and the modern fps games were a perverted version of what id made. Now id has sadly gone to the same side as all of the other rpg games and in the end the game ends up being what no game wants to be – MEDIOCRE! If it is amazing everyone wants to play it and if it just sucked it would still be different since it sucks so bad everyone learns something from it. This game will soon be forgotten unlike most games made by id software. Sadly id now thinks that cool graphics fills in for all else. They think that senseless story, retarded AI, no replay value and repedative combat is all ok if it looks cool. IT ISN’T!!! After you cruise through it once, you have absolutely no reason to play it again. Only online gameplay left and since mod is limited it has near no reason to ever replay it. Id came back and landed face first in the dirt.

  9. Now that I think about it, I compared (even though you get bashed for comparing 2 games of any kind nowadays) this to a steroid-bulked fallout 3 with its parallels. Without any substance (story, interaction, feeling, unique theme, idea) the game seems just another passer-by to me. Of course I like dem Wild West shootem up Wasteland style but I think we’ve pretty much passed the point where shooting up mutants and baddies makes a legend of itself from that…I might get this for the use of some future video projects but I find it’ll be on my shelf after I played a week or three and get on with it

  10. great review!

  11. It seems some people still either buy, or go on the Internet to pretend they bought, a game that they act like they have no idea what the game was. It is a first person shooter with some RPG elements, acutely open world, with only vehicular online combat and separate from campaign coop play.

    There, that wasn’t so hard.

    By the way, the visuals in this game have to be played to be believed, imagine being able to play your games at 120hz. No game mode on, just that slight 3D feel with the same fidelity in graphics. Absolutely breathtaking, and a slap in the face to Epic, DICE and Activision. A new benchmark set by John Carmack.

  12. I feel like the biggest sucker having preordered this thinking it would be a new benchmark in graphics engine and getting home realizing how painful it is to play this garbage.Texture popup on everything,ultra linear missions(the fetch and eliminate basic variety),and just overall blandness of this title make me want to vomit wrectchedly all over myself for buying this with hard earned money as opposed to Dark Souls which I also badly wanted.If anything I will use this mistake and not preorder anything thinking its a sure thing until I have done some research on a game.Never again am I just throwing money out the window as I have done with this.I should just take the loss and trade it in as soon as possible to get a high trade in value($25 at gamestop.wow wee.)Games just don’t have the magic that they used to.Hopefully Skyrim will set the bar higher again.RAGE certainly didnt.Felt like I was playing a badly designed ps2 game.

  13. Should I get this on PS3? Or go out and buy an Xbox 360 with it? Im looking for help haha.

  14. Do NOT buy this game. What a waste of $. I played it the first time when it was called Doom. Controlling a car that doesn’t respond well with a keyboard is an incredible waste of time. On a scale of zero to fun this game is a zero. Better luck next time ID.

  15. BUY THIS GAME. Don’t listen to anything these trolls say. The game is epic. your classic id shooter style, but this time they move away from tight corridors in favor of more open spaces and add cars that were not just tacked on as a last minute minigame but are fun and actually work very well. The people complaining are obviously youngsters that wish this game was another call of duty. This game is ART.

  16. @Ceabrus What in bloody hell is with the-complainers-are-little-kiddies-who-play-nothing-but-call-of-duty assumption? Have you been inflicted with the deadly internetz virus known as herp derp?

  17. The voice track isn’t being decoded correctly on mine. Pink or brown noise. sucks.

  18. Right down to the basics I would give the game a 8/10, the game’s graphics did help me bump the score up a bit cause I like that aspect of the game. The game will take roughly 12 hours after doing all the races, most of the side quests and the main story line. The missions were fun at first but later on they got a little dull since it is mainly hallway shooting and it starts to get repetitive. I liked the driving/ racing part of the game and actually would have liked to see more of it as well by having cash prizes instead of racing certificates for races already won and making the drivers harder to beat as well. I would have given the game a better score as well if it wasn’t for the ending, I thought this could have been done way better since I got a feeling of needing more when the game was done. I haven’t played the multi-player yet so I don’t know if that helps the game at all. All in all the game is not the greatest game ever but it certainly is not the worst either, I would recommend getting the game but waiting till it comes down in price so it feels like you get more for your money.

  19. WARNING: DONT BUY THIS GAME!!!!!!
    THESE ARE THE REASONS.

    the BAD:
    1) No lifespan
    2) No free roam
    3) Very short missions
    4) Very little modding
    5) Must restart character once you complete main mission ( cannot even do side missions).
    6) Stupid car fights
    7) Bad story ( HORRIBLE!!!)
    8) Lots of Lies when they market this product ( about freeroam, fallout, farcry, etc )
    9) Multiplayer is not not dedicated
    10)Multiplayer gets boring
    11)Cannot even see Character in gameplay
    12)Character doesnt even have a name
    13)NPCS are fixed and like robots, no flexability
    AND SO MUCH MORE.

    the GOOD:
    1) Good graphics.

    Finished the game and played the multiplayer….. Game looks good in the beginning but when you are finished with the quests ( main and side ), there is nothing much to it and you cannot go back but rather have to start all over again which i think is very very poorly designed.

    Even if you only play the main and you want to go back to complete the side missions, you can’t!!!.

    I would love to go back and start playing with all the weapons i have and the upgrades and the cars which i built during my play, but once you finish the game, thats it!!!, you have to start all!! over again and that makes this games life span very very short.

    And even if i save on the last mission and go back without completing the main quest, whats the point?, its not a openworld sandbox game. and you cant even go back to the areas.

    Myadvice to all those who are thinking of getting this game, DONT get it!!!. You will end up playing it only once and never again. Trust me. Beauty is not everything.

    The game is also very short and its not a freeroam open world map like fall out. I know many reviews say that it is, but its 100% corridor style FPS which you will get tired of when you have to replay the missions over and over again.

    Modding is also only until you complete the main mission, hell side quests are boring!!, no action and only a very few, not like what other reviews says that there is so much to do….trust me this is a lie!!, and open world is also a lie!!…..freeroam is also a lie!!.I feel as i have been cheated, and thats how you guys will feel once you COMPLETE the game.

    The towns or cities are very small also they only seem to make it sound big when they are marketing the product, dont believe them.

    anyway…peace everyone. and good luck!.

  20. LMAO. I recently bought RAGE and I haven’t even had a chance to play single player. Me and a dudebrah stayed up all night swapping turns playing multiplayer. The multiplayer is pretty awesome, I mean I LOVED Twisted Metal so that’s why I love the multiplayers.

    • “dudebrah”?! That kills any credibility you thought you had. And even if it doesn’t REALLY, it still does. Take my advice: don’t ever use that word again. Ever. It’ll be for your own good.

  21. This game is all the rage!!!

    seriously I love the game and I don’t understand all the trolls?

    They make a game which is like a mix of an rpg and a fps and people just complain that its not an rpg or a fps??

    I think some people would rather just play game sequels over and over again without giving anything new a chance!

    I recommend to everyone to BUY THIS GAME!!!

    and ‘Dark Tactician’ needs to get out of his cot and realise a good game when he sees it! dude no1s gonna read your essay!!!

  22. it was a good game.. but even with side quests over too soon.. and not enough weapon upgrades… meh..worth the 60 bucks but barely, Ran though it on normal doing the side quests and races.. and lots of gambling in about 17 hrs. Super pretty on a high def projector with surround sound. but really…borderlands was more fun. though the wing sticks were totally awesome!

  23. Don’t get me wrong I loved this game up until I beat it. Guess I had a little higher expectations something like borderlands little more free to explore world with battles jus around the corner. Short game overall and no playthrough a second time with all tha guns u achieved in the first play through. But got to admit wingsticks were something new and fun. Overall review 7 out of 10

  24. I’m a newbie to PS3 console games, have only played about a dozen games in total — just finished Dead Space 1 and 2, and loved them! I prefer the FPS genre, and am not someone who enjoys racing games where the slightest touch of the joystick sends you crashing (even with the controller sensitivity adjusted). So having to play the racing games to advance the story line in RAGE was not fun for me. Even setting the difficulty to Easy didn’t make it fun.

    The poor gameplay design was disappointing. As a fan of id (the Doom series on PC) and Bethesda (Fallout 3 and New Vegas on PS3), I expected better. (Although, the Vault-Tech Boy Bobbleheads were a nice touch.)

    And I agree that the graphics in this game are great, and the wingsticks are kick-ass!

    Dark Tactician said it well, wish I would have read this blog before shelling out $$ for the pre-order Anarchy edition.

  25. i do not understand why people dislike this game i think it is a much better game than duke better than brink graphic no cover system only hate i have is the hp reg should be removed and be like stalker or quake :P. click on the my name to go to my website for my review, also i think main reason why everyone else gives it a hard time is they do not understand to appreciate the little things like the sound of footsteps AI talking before you jump them pictures on the wall these are where the game is at not the storyline plot and linear progression because that is just how gaming is storylines suck unless they pay someone to write a book (BIOSHOCK), first person shooter is always going to look like a first person shooter i do not see how that is not enough RAGE is not made to be multiplayer if you want multiplayer get bf 3 and compare the storyline soundtrack and the little things they are worlds apart!

  26. Rage is hands down the worst wasteland post apocalyptic game ever invented by man….i want my money back!!!!! Fuck this game in its stupid ass.

  27. I wanted to reply but was unable to think up some way to say anything other then say I liked the story, and was only bogged down by the re-uses of places, and the sudden and excitement killing ending(you get this over powered gun for the last mission, because of that I expected a hard fight, or at least a lot, sort of expecting something at the very least as hard as when you go into the Jackal territory, sadly no.

    So thus to add on, I am going to have a bit of a reply to: Dark Tactician’s post

    “the BAD:
    1) No lifespan
    2) No free roam
    3) Very short missions
    4) Very little modding
    5) Must restart character once you complete main mission ( cannot even do side missions).
    6) Stupid car fights
    7) Bad story ( HORRIBLE!!!)
    8) Lots of Lies when they market this product ( about freeroam, fallout, farcry, etc )
    9) Multiplayer is not not dedicated
    10)Multiplayer gets boring
    11)Cannot even see Character in gameplay
    12)Character doesnt even have a name
    13)NPCS are fixed and like robots, no flexability
    AND SO MUCH MORE.

    the GOOD:
    1) Good graphics.”

    Of the bad’s listed:
    1) I actually wanted to play again after it was over, while I admit that I lost my mood to play becuase of the ending, the game play was fun enough to do the game again.

    2) What are you talking about, there is a hell of a lot of it, you are free to roam the city’s and drive a wasteland (you could walk it, but it would take forever to get anywhere) there are small quest hidden around and so on.

    3) The missions are more build on then anything, each mission adding onto the next like most games, and I would not call them short.

    4) What are you talking about modding?

    5) Plenty of games are like that, just because a few let you run around with all your super powers after you beat the game, does not mean all of them have to.

    6) I saw them as fun, and interesting, and if you don’t like them, most of the time you can just boost past them.

    7) Lies.

    8) Nothing that was stated seems to have been a lie, most of it was as they stated, yet some was not nearly as exciting or big as implied.

    9+10 ) I know plenty of people who like it, I know a friend who has been only using the game for multi-player racing. But, multi-player should always be considered secondary in a game, the main point should be the game itself, if you want multi-player centered play Halo, the story is worthless yet plenty love to play online.

    11) Neather can you in plenty of games, Half Life was popular without you seeing the back of Freemans head.

    12) You see it at the beginning, its Nicholas Raine.

    13) They move like humans, and when you leave they will sometimes be in different places, just like normal humans, you can’t expect them all to be running around unless they have work to do, or they don’t like sitting still.

    “The towns or cities are very small also they only seem to make it sound big when they are marketing the product, dont believe them.”

    They let out videos of people walking around the towns, effectively showing you exactly how big they are, they did not hid the size.

    “And even if i save on the last mission and go back without completing the main quest, whats the point?, its not a openworld sandbox game. and you cant even go back to the areas.”

    Actually you can, as long as your not on the last mission, which really it’s expected your actions would be limited, you can still do all the side mission, and if you want to go back to wellspring after getting to subway town, there is a “airship” set up for you.

    “I would love to go back and start playing with all the weapons i have and the upgrades and the cars which i built during my play, but once you finish the game, thats it!!!”

    “Finish the game” Hm, I wonder what finishing it means, does it mean there is more? Also, if you wanted everything to be easy as you walk around as superman with super weapons on low levels, just pick easy, its almost the same.

  28. I do not like how there is no way to go back after you beat the game, to continue playing and searching other areas. But overall I think the game was great.

  29. The steering controls on xbox are HORRIBLE! You touch the stick with so much as a whisper and the car tries to do a 180. Anyone who says this is an open world has never played Fallout, Skyrim, or Red Dead Redemption. THOSE are open worlds. This is just a linear world you can back track through. I am so very glad I rented it first. 3.5 out of 10.

  30. I bought rage. the game is pure business.
    weak in the story, bad gameplay, very easy.
    car racing in all sincerity, fuck!
    John Carmack has lost its magic!
    trolls? I think trolls are angry consumers to buy a lie!
    well, id Software has more weight in the market, since Doom 3.
    you think Rage, a work of “art”?
    all really play call of duty!

  31. Rage was a failure, not close to 1 million copies with three platforms… id tech 5 engine is the worst in the market supposedly “triple A”.
    I believe that with the arrival of the Unreal Engine 4, among others, id Software will release another mediocre title “Doom 4″ again with fantasy autor shit, and the Tim Willits bad finger in all. But Quakecon is a way to brainwash the fanboys, and Zenimax probably spend millions to create the same “amazing game” for Doom 4. The major part of the consumers are kids, and assholes. Put John Carmack lauching a fucking rocket… nobody remember a amateur making the same shit, using an iphone to record the travel.
    Is just a rotten company… luck as hell Zenimax buy this shit, affter 10 years with bad engines and games, is probably a bankruptcy in the future.

  32. I try to imagine the creative process that group.
    Rage – you are a soldier who wakes up in the future!
    Doom 4 – you are a soldier who wakes up in hell!
    waste of money and good taste always.

  33. id software = a rotting corpse.

  34. id software lied ugly .. again, spent much more time and money on advertising. since Doom 3, this company has been declining seriously. Doom 4 is the final insult.

  35. Ok. So I bought my boyfriend this game for Christmas. Hes really into games like skyrim, fall out, mw3…Was this game a good choice?

  36. Pingback: RAGE Released! | Bethesda Blog

  37. I realize that this game is not even on the same planet as the Fallout series (and for all those who hated Fallout NV, I actually thought it was awesome once I got the patch and a few upgrades for it so it wasn’t so glitchy..), but in the end, I’m about 7 hours in to RAGE and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I think people need to stop trying so hard to compare everything that comes out to the few hall of famer games that are out there and just enjoy them for what they are. Not every game that comes out even can be a Fallout 3 or a GTA San Andreas.. If those games are really what you want, THEN GO BACK TO PLAYING THOSE GAMES!! -Thanks ID for continuing to entertain me.

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