PS3 Review – Rage
Their first new IP since 1996, Rage returns to the FPS genre id pioneered, but adds an all-new open world aspect. I don’t know if the name was meant to be ironic, but while the overall game experience is a good one… it has its moments.
First off, Rage is gorgeous. Gorgeous! I spent quite a bit of time just looking around at the incredible detail and artistry of the environments. Sadly it is the amazing detail that makes the game’s most glaring problem, well, so glaring. The massive amount of data required to render these beautiful environments (that amount to almost 8GB of precious, precious hard disk space) are SO massive that the PlayStation 3 has a difficult time rendering everything at once. When you turn the camera to look in another direction the textures will appear to be blurry and low resolution until the texture has a chance to fully load. This texture “pop-in” is reported to exist in varying amounts on other platforms as well, so it seems to be more of an optimization problem than a platform-specific problem. Hopefully it is something that can be addressed with a patch, but after a little bit of frustration I adjusted to it.
At its core, Rage is a FPS. This time around, id has tried to shake things up a bit by adopting an RPG-esque quest driven narrative. Rather than going from point A to point B and following an NPC through the story, Rage asks you to interact with various characters in the world that will send you on varying types of quests. I say varying, but really there is not a lot of variety here. Generally they want you to go do something which is going to involve you shooting stuff, then come back with an item or letting them know that you did it. There are some side quests that can lend some variety to the missions, but you have to work a little harder to find these optional diversions. While it is nice to see a developer try to break the “follow the NPC” rut that most shooters fall into these days, the end result felt more like Post-Apocalyptic Errand Boy than it did Engaging Quest-Driven Story.
To get from quest to quest you are going to have to travel around the Wasteland. What better way to get there than in a tricked out death mobile with homing rockets and machine guns? Oddly id decided not to include a comprehensive map to help you navigate the Wasteland, but your mini map does include a dotted line pointing you towards the location of your active quest. It’s a curious omission, but the areas are not so massive and complex that navigating them without a full map is difficult. The vehicles handle perfectly, and driving around the Wasteland is much more enjoyable than inexplicably teleporting from place to place.
Now of course when you have vehicles with weapons, you need to be able to race them. Also, you need to be able to blow things up while you race. Rage is happy to oblige with some racing mini-games that allow you to earn points for pimping your ride. A few of the races are mandatory parts of the main quest where you will earn some increasingly more badass vehicles with more and more bandit killing power. Most of the races are optional, but they are another good way to keep you from getting bored with your never ending list of chores to do for the oddly needy inhabits of this post apocalyptic Wasteland.
One of the surprisingly interesting parts of the game was the Rage Frenzy collectible card game. As you explore the Wasteland you will find some nifty little collectible cards. Besides being nifty, they also serve as playing cards for Rage Frenzy. In the hub towns you will find opportunities to pit the cards you’ve collected against an NPC’s deck. While I’m not a huge fan of CCGs, Rage Frenzy is a fun way to earn a little extra cash to buy that box of assault rifle ammo you’ve always dreamed of owning.
While the story may have been lacking, and the quests repetitive, Rage is a FPS. Once the whole pretense of why you’ve been sent to this particular section of the world to do battle with its inhabitants, all thoughts of pretext are gone. The combat is great. The second that you are being chased around by howling mutants or being smack-talked by bandits while the rain down assault rifle fire on you, all there is to think about is survival. I literally shouted the first time an enemy started charging at me, did some kind of Cirque du Soleil tumbling maneuver to avoid my Wingstick I threw at him, then proceeded to bash me with some sort of club. Enemies will jump up and swing from the ceiling, run along the walls and climb over walls to reach you. When you think you’ve taken one down, they will inch themselves back to cover to try to recover long enough to get another shot off at you. Just as you think you’ve taken out every last enemy the game can throw at you, a dude in heavy armor with a chain gun will teach you the importance of saving your game frequently, because there are no mid-mission checkpoints. Luckily the game allows you to save at any point from the pause menu.
Sadly, by the time you reach the end of the game it does not really feel like you have been fighting all of these battles for any particular reason. Do we need a reason to blast mutants with shotguns? If you don’t mind slogging through a little bit of dialog to get to some great gun battles, then Rage is a heck of a lot of fun, but it can be hard to ignore the countless, repetitive quests that seem to only be there to extend the game’s length.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Graphics are amazing, aside from texture pop-in
– Average story and texture pop-in hurt immersion