So, just finished Rage, kind of a cross between Borderlands and Fallout with some id flavour. When the game launched there were some issues with the video drivers released by ATI and Nvidia, however within a few days, new drivers were released and id patched up their game to give the PC player a few extra graphics options to help with the screen tearing and texture problems. So while it was disappointing to see problems on release day and exceptionally disappointing to see the head of id John Carmack say that PC isn’t all that important, like that was a reason to release the game in that state, things are now improved and the game appeared to play fine with no more loading crashes.

So getting that out of the way, what was it like?

Visually, the game is pretty, some comments have been made that some of the textures are way below quality standards a PC can run these days and shows more about the fact it was developed for console and then just “thrown” onto the PC, which is perhaps a little harsh, but I can see what they mean. Character models look high detail and very nice (when they were not flickering between animations pre patch.) It’s the background of the rooms they are in that seem a little low resolution, for example a perfectly fine character can be standing in front of a post with a road sign that is almost unreadable because of the low resolution texture on it.

The vistas and areas you can explore look pretty nice although oddly most of the great looking stuff is not what you get to play through, the levels you play through are suitably “wasteland” and feel fine but the distant views of derelict cities, old ships and factories are mostly just scenery and you never get to see any of them. The levels are designed to be accessed through a wasteland area where you drive around in a vehicle which you can customise (more on that later). There are various doors that lead to the missions and almost all of the doors have two maps associated with them, so you find yourself returning to the same doors for two different missions.

This isn’t too big a deal, since the second mission is always the map you left last time but with some layout changes and a change in objective and enemies within. For example if your last mission asked you to blow something up inside, that will now be destroyed so you may need to use a different path to move through the area that was previously locked in your first mission.

There are a lot of unused areas on the driving wasteland and several doors that I never visited, probably for DLC. The various cars you can acquire and upgrade with better armour, spiked wheels, bull bars, miniguns, rocket launchers and pulse cannons all look pretty cool, unfortunately the handling of the cars feels slightly fake to me and I’m disappointed, considering half the game is driving or racing, that more effort wasn’t made to make the cars handle better when cornering or using the hand brake.

Speaking of races, as I said , half the game takes place in the car and about a 3rd of the game is winning different kinds of competitive races to unlock “tickets” which you can turn in to upgrade your vehicles. Most of the races are fun, except for the one they use the most, the “rally” which consists of a group of racers chasing beacons, every time you run over one you get points and they spawn in a sequence. The problem is some of the rally tracks are not laid out like actual tracks so learning the spawn sequence of the beacons is difficult and the AI cars of course all divide up to capture different points as they spawn, often leading to you getting within sight of a beacon only to have it stolen and then you’re chasing another one that other cars are already closer to.

The time trials, none combat races and even the combat races are fun to do and they at least have a more structured objective which relies more on consistency than chance. The “turbo” ability you get on all the vehicles is perhaps a little excessive, I had more fun just driving around without it but it is required much of the time which again made it feel a little too “gamey” for my tastes.

The other half of the game, the first person shooter aspect is typical id, this is where the quality of the game ramps up, the choice of weapons, ammo types and variety of craftable gadgets to assist you in combat is varied and interesting as are the enemies which come at you in a variety of ways, swinging from the ceiling, bouncing off walls and weaving as they try to close on you and stove your skull in. The ranged enemies throw grenades, try to flank you but usually so much of the on foot combat takes place in confined areas there isn’t much room for flanking and they end up resorting to falling back as you kill more of them.

The towns you visit are relatively compact but are full of things to do, missions, npcs, mini games, such as a card battle game and a holographic dice game I particularly liked, there was also a knife game which I just couldn’t do and later on a guitar strings game using cursor keys. You can also trade in your loot and pick up alternate, none storyline missions, on occasion which are a nice diversion and sometimes a change of pace. While some of the characters are interesting they are mostly forgettable and none of them really spend enough time with you to be anything more than quest givers. The voices are well done, I’m sure I could hear John Goodman, Steve Blum and Claudia Black in the game at various points.

The storyline is hit and miss, basically you are tasked with helping the resistance overthrow some kind of new iron fisted government, from oppressing the wasteland settlers and in order to do this you have to wake up all the remaining “ark” survivors of which you are one. Unfortunately while the story starts off interesting it really doesn’t stay interesting, by the time I made it to the end of the game I didn’t even know it was the last fight, I was expecting something a bit more meaty for the last fight and it just never happened. I finished the game with a ton more ammo then I needed and I never even fired the “BFG” ammo on the biggest gun I had because I thought I would save it for what presumably needed it.

The ending cinematic is as short as it is disappointing, while it shows you successful in your mission and hints at what that means, it’s over so quick and the credits are so dull I was left feeling rather uninspired. While the game is fun to play it never really felt as big or engaging as it could have been, the driving experience wasn’t quite good enough, the cities were not quite rich enough, the missions and story were not that engaging and the ending was a flop.

I think Rage is good but it’s not great, it falls short on many promises it makes as you play it and there are, as mentioned earlier, better wasteland/post apocalyptic style games out there already.

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