Rage Review

Rage Review

Shooters these days tend to categorize themselves into sub-genres the same way that role-playing games do. Third-person shooters, tactical shooters, squad shooters, and further breakdowns are supposed to make it easier for the consumer to know what it is they're buying into. It's also supposed to make it easy for a developer to work on a particular style of game without having to worry about going out of bounds. But what happens when a game decides to combine multiple elements of gameplay in one attempt to create a seamless world? The result is Rage, and outside of a competitive multiplayer it easily defines what could be an entire console generation's worth of FPS advances in one experience.

Rage starts off by throwing players into a post-apocalyptic world, one where humanity knew the end was coming and prepared itself by tossing some of the more valuable citizens safely underground while the rest were left to fend for themselves on the surface. Those who survived either broke themselves down into small communities, fragments of what the world used to be, or were mutated into crazed killing mutants. Players are quickly introduced to the world and how it operates through a fairly straightforward introduction. The plot is kept light as exploration is encouraged, which brings up the first major point regarding Rage's development.

The world is magnificently designed, and players should find absolutely no confusion in finding what to do or where to go to do it. Sitting somewhere between a sandbox game and a standard RPG the main character is often presented with quests that take him from one hub to another, and in between each hub lies a string of objectives that will generally end by throwing the player into the lair of an opposing force. Exploring the points in between will earn bonus items or unlock secret objectives, so wandering about the world is highly encouraged between missions. Exploring the open world also makes use of the games travel system, which is best described as a customizable dune buggy with weaponry and a sense of style that would make Mad Max proud.

Combat on the road is a fairly straightforward drive-and-shoot affair. It gets a bit more complex should you decide to foot it. Players are tossed a fairly wide variety of weapons right from the get go, and in under the first few hours of gameplay the pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, crossbow and sniper rifle all make an appearance. While other titles maintain a scaling system that would rank each individual weapon Rage somehow manages to balance each gun through the addition of custom ammo. For example, the pistol can either fire normal rounds or heavier slugs in addition to a type of ammo that unleashes multiple rounds simultaneously. This means that players don't just have to worry about the weapons they choose but the ammo they carry on hand. A lack of a cover system combined with regenerating health means that players will always be a little defensive when it comes to shooting, but the more aggressive close range weapons more than pay for their weight in ammo with sheer killing power.

This expansive range of weaponry that maintains being well balance means that players never find themselves dominating one particular situation with a single gun. Sneaking through an area may require a bit more finesse than what the shotgun may offer, or a group of opponents at long range can be more easily dealt with using an explosive car than simply being shot with a sniper rifle. New ammunition types further expand this strategy by offering players different ways to approaching a situation with a single gun so combat in-game never really feels old, particularly with the wide range of enemies that players encounter throughout their journey.

Each opposing faction has their own style of combat, from running along the walls and charging with melee weapons to using futuristic automated weaponry to try and blast players from afar. The personality of each clan and stylized boss fights do a great job at making the player never feel like they're fighting the same AI, particularly when enemies help one another make tactical retreats. Only when traveling around in vehicles does it become hard to tell what kind of bandit you're up against, but at that point it hardly makes a difference. Most of the games challenge lies in being able to adapt to shifting combat conditions that typically lay around Rage's massive set pieces and detailed environments. Boss battles are scripted to an extent, so clearing an area of enemies or reaching a particular point in a dungeon is the key factor in triggering the next sequence, but thankfully players don't have to worry about any quick time events working their way into the combat.


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