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Rage Review - The Parent's Guide to Video Games

Rage Review

      Kid Safe: Low (2.5  / 10)                        Game Quality: Very High (9.0 / 10)

Genre: First-Person Shooter / Open World RPG
-          The name makes this form of game sound more complicated than it really is. These games are characterized by the viewpoint and weapons used in the title. In a first person shooter, you are looking down the barrel of a gun as though you yourself are holding the weapon. Likewise, as the term "shooter" implies, the game specifically uses guns and firearms. On top of this, in an Open World RPG, players explore a place where choice is everything. Rather than providing a set story that a player has to follow, they are provided a world that they can explore. Finally, RPG means "Role Playing Game" and is characterized by the ability for a player to customize the appearance, weaponry, and special skills and abilities that are available to a character that they are playing.

Internet Requirements: Moderate
-          Rage features a moderate amount of internet requirements due to the presence of two forms of internet-based game options: two-player cooperative gameplay as well as competitive racing. The two player cooperative mode will pit two individuals against a series of tasks such as disarming bombs, turning water valves on, fighting bandits, etc. The competitive racing will set multiple players against each other in dune-buggy racing similar to the game's mini-games. Nonetheless, this title can be enjoyed without any internet usage whatsoever.

Story Summary:
-          In Rage, you play the role of a nameless "Ark Survivor". In this title's fictional future, a massive asteroid is set on a collision course for Earth. In order for mankind to survive this terrible catastrophe, the powers that be selected groups of people who were best suited to survive, injected them with powerful nano-technology, and then set them into Arks. These Arks were large lifepods that buried themselves into the Earth for a set period of time and kept their precious cargo in stasis until they are unsealed sometime in the future. Now, woken up from your long period of rest, you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic world that has been changed into a MadMax style oblivion filled with bandits, pockets of humanity, a controlling "authority", and dune-buggy racing to boot. Can you make your way through this changed world or will the Wasteland claim you?


Kid Safe: Low (2.5 / 10)
-          Foul Language: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Rage contains a very high amount of foul language  in the form of the following words: "d*mn", "h*ll", "b*tch", "a*s", "b*stard", and "f*ck". These words are heard regularly throughout both combat situations as well as through normal dialogue between a variety of characters. While this language is heard from most characters and people throughout the game, those most commonly at fault are the groups of bandits that roam the wasteland. Likewise, this language is heard through a variety of situations and is thereby not restricted to instances of extreme emotion such as anger, frustration, pain, or anguish.

-          Violence and Gore: Very High - Not Recommended for Children
o   Rage features a very high amount of both violence and gore. First off, as a first-person shooter, there is a focus on violent gameplay in which players use a variety of guns and firearms to dispatch their enemies. This range of weaponry includes, but is not limited to, fist and fist-like weapons, pistols, rifles, sniper rifles, assault rifles, shotguns, machine guns, grenades, remote-detonated explosives, and boomerang-like bladed weaponry that is flung at enemies to maim or impale. Players will then use said weapons against a number of enemies that are seeking to injure and kill the player. These enemies include tribes of carnivorous and murderous bandits, flesh-eating mutants, human-soldiers, and an array of monstrous creatures. Players are unable to harm innocent civilians.

o   Now, let's take a look at the combat. First, allow me to say that Rage is most certainly not the bloodiest game that we have reviewed on this site. To that same point, the more disturbing point is to an enemy's reaction when they are killed. While in combat, players will be encouraged to maim and kill their enemies. When shot or injured, enemies will show a red spray of blood to indicate that they have been hit. When an enemy is wounded, they can  be seen cradling their injuries. When an enemy is severely wounded, they will often be seen falling to the ground; from there they will either weakly sit up, cradling their injuries, and attempt to fire upon the player or they will attempt to drag themselves or slowly crawl away from the gunfire. When killed, enemies will crumple to the ground realistically. A headshot is the perfect example of the disturbing amount of realism in this game: the enemy's head suddenly snaps backwards as they are hit by the bullet and their legs slowly crumple to the ground and their body follows. Wingsticks (boomerang-like throwing blades) can become imbedded in an enemy and have to be pulled out. Certain attacks and weapons will dismember enemies, leaving bloody stumps.

o   Outside of combat, players will also see a number of violent and gory sights. First off, the player is the only survivor of their Ark. When they wake up, an examination of the surrounding stasis pods will reveal decayed and mummified bodies of those that were not quite as lucky as you. Likewise, throughout the Wasteland players will find a variety of carcasses, both human and animal, that have been killed in a variety of fashions. Some even have the pleasant addition of having flies and insects buzzing about them. Players will also come across desecrated forms, one which stood out to me being an individual that is found tied with her hands and legs to four corners of a hallway. Occasionally the corpses even come in large piles of flesh that are simply decomposing into primordial black goo.
             
-          Sexually-Related Content: None to Low
o   To the best of this reviewer's knowledge, Rage does not contain any explicit scenes of nudity or sexually related content. To this point, however, we would like to warn parents to exercise caution as the sheer size of this game does create the possibility of an overlap in judgment. In simpler terms, there is just so much that it's possible we missed something in some remote area of the game.

-          Use of Drugs and Alcohol: Very Low
o   Rage features a very low amount of drug and alcohol usage that pertains to some visuals of and some references to alcoholic beverages. Players will be assigned tasks that will require them to go out and locate "booze". Likewise, while playing through the game, players will be able to pick up alcoholic beverages around the wasteland. These beverages are not consumable but are instead used for crafting weapons and tools.

             
Game Quality:  Very High (9.0 / 10)
-          Graphics / Visuals: Very High
o   Have you ever wondered what it would be like to explore a Mad Max style world where bandits roam free and what little pockets of humanity struggle to survive? Rage gives you this chance. With such absolutely stunning graphics and visuals as are available in this title, you might just think that you are wandering the Wasteland with the arid heat beating down on your back, the dust in your face, and the sweat cooling you as you speed through the foothills in your dune-buggy. This game does just about everything well, but most especially praise-worthy is the breathtakingly gorgeous environments that that game has to offer. Aside from that, I also have to pay special praise to the realistic character movements.

o   I have to say that Rage won my cynical little critic-heart within a matter of minutes of even turning on the game. After I awoke from my long bout of stasis-sleep, I examined my surroundings, taking in what I could, and then stepped out of my Ark to see what had become of the Earth that was left behind. The sky is what caught my attention first. Brilliant, glittering sunlight shone down through perforated clouds that spilled a speckled flood of light and shadow down across the canyon below me; so real that it seemed cut from a video, not a game. Looking upon the canyon, the simple striations and rock formations catch my interest; leading further examination and revealing some of the finest texture graphics for the mountains and Wasteland. Aside from the absolutely breathtaking visuals themselves, the environments also feature interesting imaginings of life after the end of the world; broken down factories, recycled radio and TV equipment, and just about everything from the world left behind being recalled for service. A perfect example (as disturbing as it sounds) is an urinal that had been retrofitted as a water-pump.

o   The game's characters were another thing I marveled at; not specifically that ones that you talk to, but the ones you fight. Don't get me wrong, the talkers are just fine, but the enemies are amazing. I died more than once because I was just staring at them. Rage offers some of the smoothest enemy animations I have seen...one example including a bandit who jumped off a ledge, rolled down off a dirty mattress, slide behind a couch, vaulted, ran on a wall, and then dove at me. All of this was done without a flaw. Even then, while it's a bit more disturbing from a violence standpoint, the amount of character reaction to fighting is quite impressive. Very few games feature such realistic reactions such as a character cradling their injury or so-weakly attempting to fight back.
   
-          Audio: High
o   Moody and creepy music along with some very well done voice acting are on the docket for any audiophiles who enjoy Rage. If the graphics didn't quite convince you of where you are in this game, the audio will certainly help to hammer it home. Players will regularly hear conversations, announcements, and different radio stations and music while they wander towns and cities; really helping to add to a feeling of life and living in these areas. Likewise, when in the Wasteland exploring different areas, hideouts, bases, etc. the audio favors background music versus music from the environment. This score, with its moody and spooky tones, really help to set your hair on end or, should a firefight break out, get your blood pumping as you fight for your life against the all the horrors the Wasteland has to offer.

o   The voice acting is equally very well done, with one or two issues. First, understand that the main majority of "main characters" that you deal with on a regular basis are incredibly well done, with special attention paid to most every line and pulling in some big name talents. However, the problem (if you can call it that) is not so much with the main characters as it is with the hordes of bandits and soldiers. Their canned responses, comments, and other dialogue tend to feel a little bit less refined than that of author characters. More often these phrases feel less realistic and tend to read off or they simply get repetitive as you hear them more and more often.

-          Gameplay / Playability: High
o   And now for the real bread and butter. As always, we start with gameplay. First, the game does a decent job in actually introducing every concept of gameplay; from simple movement to engineering to combat to driving...on and on, etc. etc. It also does a good job in providing regular cues so that players know what button they need to hit or what item they need to use to solve a certain dilemma. However, the real problem that stems from Rage's playability comes from a control scheme that is slightly different from most first-person shooters, making it a bit awkward for some more experienced players, as well as making it difficult to find out how to do something if you forgot after the initial introduction. This is by no means game breaking, it just stands out as a bit annoying.

o   The gameplay is also well done, with the occasional minimal flaw. First off, players are really able to go anywhere that they want to in the Wasteland and are allowed to explore to their heart's content so long as they accept that they might get eaten for wandering too far from safety. If you aren't the wandering type, the game still does an expert job in leading you through a variety of easy to follow, simple to understand quests that progressively build and paint a picture of the world for what it has become since the asteroid hit. Likewise, if quests and gunplay aren't your game, there are plenty else to choose from. Simple games like dice and card games can satisfy your time as can dune-buggy racing, delivery runs, and much, much more. The only major problem is that the game feels a bit artificially lengthened via the focus on "dune-buggies". Players are, in certain spots, forced to partake in the titles mini-game races over and over in order to earn certificates so that they can buy certain items to complete quests. While a race or two wouldn't be a bad thing in general, the heavy amount of focus on these mini-game races can be a bit distracting for someone aching the exploring and gunplay that the game promises.
          
-          Dollar-Value: Very High
o   Overall, Rage still has a very high dollar-value. When you consider that on the Xbox 360 version of this title, it uses 3 DISCS; this game has a LOT of content. If you are ONLY playing the main storyline and not doing any other jobs or exploring at all, this game will take roughly 15 to 20 hours depending on gamer skill. However, given the fact that it would be very hard not to start exploring or try out other jobs or just see what kind of trouble you can get into, I would easily expect this game to last you a very long time. When you count that with the decently fun multiplayer and internet functions and absolutely stunning graphics, this makes Rage a good buy for the apocalyptic-survivor in your family. 


Recommendations
-          At this time, there really aren't any open world games that aren't mature rated; sadly post-apocalyptic Earth just isn't a nice place. However, if you are ok with mature content, you might check out Borderlands or Fallout. Bulletstorm might also perk your interest if you are into the nitty-gritty first-person shooter titles.

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