The lights are on
I walked into GameStop around noon on Black Friday to pick up my $20 copy of RAGE. To give the employee a break, he probably had been working since either midnight or the day before to accommodate for the shopping fiasco, but he said a few words to me that I still remember. He told me not to buy the game because it was like Fallout, but with no leveling system. Dear GameStop guy, I'm sorry a leveling system means everything in the world to you. I'd recommend this game to anyone.
The opening scenes were anything I'd expect from a Bethesda-produced game: flush with a beautiful, dying Wasteland and a mutant that jumped out within the first seconds that scared something right out of me. I'm here to tell you why you should fall in love with this game, too.
That being said, there would only be two things that would dissuade you from this game: a game that lasts about 12-14 hours (and only a few more if you're extremely particular about collecting everything), and yes GameStop guy, a lousy progression system.
When you are sent down from that spaceship, you know you are not destined for greatness. I said it, not greatness. Instead, you're destined to forever go around and do everyone else's chores for them so they like you. And unlike Fallout, you can't blow up the town. The missions add nice variety, sending you into different enemy territories to either kill all humans or snatch something back. But the scenery is the variety. The routine is that you go into some mutant infested quarters to fetch something, battle your way to the said item to be fetched, and then battle your way back. That's not to say that mutant slaying wasn't incredibly fun, and I can't say I ever got bored during the missions. But it's the side quests that really added the variety.
For a game I thought would tote the same number of side quests as in Fallout, I was sorely disappointed. I probably completed fewer than 10 side quests, not because I was too distracted by the main quest, but because there really are not that many. You have a job board where you can protect some lives with sniper fire or check a location for missing body. The bartender in each town will pay you to kill racing bandits. I played two rounds of a game show where they put you in an area to kill mutants at the expense of your own ammo. Randomly in the Wasteland you'll get a monetary reward for killing a certain gang of racing bandits or by speeding down the narrow paths to catch falling feltrite. You can deliver mail in a timed race and I once went to some guy's mutant-infested distillery to fetch his secret alcohol recipe. That was it, besides racing.
These aren't assigned quests, per se, but additional findings for the completionist in you. In the Wasteland, there are various authority drones that you can launch your vehicles into that give you rewards. Also, amongst the levels you encounter are hidden cards that you can either collect or use in one of the gambling games in the city.
I can't say racing is all that special in this game, but I was initially impressed by the vital nature it had placed on the feature. When you start out, you actually have a necessary quest to rob the Gearheads of some of their car parts to get your own baby running. They even require you to win a few races in order to get noticed by the big wigs. But after that, races are more of an afterthought. If you've ever played Jak-X, the racing is very similar in the fact that you have cartoony buggies that shoot rockets or fire machine guns in classic 3-lap races. There is a time trial feature as well as a capture-the-flag type race where the flag randomly places itself on the map and you have to get there first. The races were not that difficult, and this is coming from someone who rarely plays racing games. I would've liked to see racing play a more instrumental role in this game to set it apart from the shooters like it. Racing is there, but don't bet too hard on it.
Just a brief note on how vehicles function outside of the races: you ride them around the Wasteland to travel, but are not confined to them. There is also a better progression system for your vehicle than your character, as you can unlock better vehicles and additional upgrades for those vehicles that make you more formidable against Wasteland bandits.
One of my most hailed praises of this game will come from its enemy AI. When I first encountered the Ghost clan (the first set of enemies you will meet), I was surprised at their dexterity and constant shift in position that nearly made me waste all my shots on thin air. They will roll around and climb on the environment in quick swings before landing in front of you, but then dash to the side and around to flank you. You can't be hasty with your bullets, and you really have to time your shots. These are the smartest enemies I've seen all year.
Along with the well-done enemies were the well-done NPCs. These NPCs were varied in appearance and dialect and never seemed static. The facial expressions also changed with mood, leading to more believable narratives. I was further impressed with how their responses changed with each mission I completed.
There is not a lot to say about the weapon selection. You get one type of pistol, two types of assault rifles, one type of shotgun, and one type of sniper. A crossbow is also available, as well as a single-mission gun at the end of the game. The variety comes with the type of ammo that is used, whether it is a thicker shell, an explosive round, or an arrow imbued with an electrifying shock. I was disappointed at a lack of melee-ranged weapon, or even a melee weapon when things got too close. You can always bash the baddie with the butt of your gun, but that never inflicts enough damage to be useful.
Throughout the game, you can either find or buy schematics for different types of gadgets. You can also buy or find the parts to make them, but there is enough that you pick up in the environment (and with no weight capacity) that you'll never be in want of materials or money. These gadgets and items might include bandages, wingsticks, mini-turrets, sentry bots, or remote-controlled bomb-cars. Although I only used them sparingly, they were a fun addition when I really felt like just blowing those baddies to smithereens.
As I've mentioned above, there is no leveling system. With no leveling system, there is no level of customization of character that has been available in other Bethesda titles. The only thing you can change about your character is their armor (if you wish to purchase medium or heavy armor as a one time deal). When you are first given your light armor, you can choose between two sets. One increases the discount you get on goods while the other decreases the material you need for constructing or adds other perks to the construction.
You health is never displayed in a bar, but is similar to that of Call of Duty. When you get hit severely, the edges of your screen will get redder and redder. If you duck out of combat for a while, your health will automatically regenerate. If you do happen to die, you either get one or two chances at reviving yourself (depending on your story progression) with a defibrillator. The mechanics of the defibrillator are not hard to understand, but they are unlike anything you'll find in any other game.
One of my biggest woes about RAGE was its lack of checkpoints and auto saves. Auto saves happen when you begin a mission by walking into the building where it takes place and rarely anytime else. I don't know how many times I found myself redoing 20-30 minutes of a level because I had forgotten to save along the way. You need to save early and often for your sanity's sake.
Another HUGE grievance of mine was the lack of a map within towns-not even a mini-map in the corner. I spent a huge chunk of time simply looking for the places where the mission began. I wouldn't mind if there was no marker to tell me where something is as long as I had a map to orient myself with. There is no large-scale map for the wasteland, but you do have a mini-map and quest tracker so you aren't navigating the vast wasteland in search of a crevice.
I only encountered two during my entire gameplay. One was where I accidentally dropped a grenade next to my vehicle, and when the grenade exploded, my vehicle shot away to Never, Never Land. The second one is where my body was trapped between the floor of the elevator with half my body above it and half below it. I could move, but not exit the elevator.
The game had some issues with fully loading textures. Either that, or they were fully loaded and just looked fuzzy. Even when you'd be staring at a texture, it would take it a few seconds to fully load up, which was entertaining to watch. This never detracted from my gameplay, but I hadn't seen an issue like this since the days of PS2.
One of the more compelling reasons for buying RAGE was the implementation of a local cooperative mode. This is a feature that is few and far between. I was hoping the story was cooperative like Borderlands, but there was only a small missions sections from the game's home screen dedicated to co-op. This mode, called Wasteland Legends, allowed you and a friend to explore missions that related to the story of single player, but were a unique experience. I was disappointed that you couldn't use upgraded items that you accumulated in single player, and instead had to settle with the basest part of the weapon possible. I also thought the enemies were a lot harder in co-op than they ever were in single player. That might just be me.
Other than the places you travel to kill bad guys, there are three main locations. You have the first town that has a population of about six. You are forced to move on from there because they don't want to attract attention. There is another town similar to this one, but you are only allowed there once. You have two main towns that are almost exactly alike in features, although the setting is different. With there only being two viable towns for quests, there is not a lot to explore.
By using the R2 button for PS3, you brought up your four quick-selected guns (there are only really six gun types) and the available ammo types for each gun. This seamless interface allowed for the quick transition between both guns and the type of ammo you wanted to use with a quick flick of the left analog stick (for ammo) and right analog stick (for guns). The D-Pad is used in the same way, but for the smaller weapons like grenades, wingsticks (a boomerang of head-chopping proportions), mini-turrets, and more.
As the GameStop guy told me, this game is a lot like Fallout in quite a few ways. But it is not as expansive in story, map, weapons, customization, or-well-anything. But RAGE is the perfect action-oriented game for those who thought the pacing of Fallout was too slow, or the breadth of gameplay too wide to handle. RAGE is also a very short game, but maybe I have a jaded sense of length due to games like Skyrim. If I knew it was so short, I would have put more hours into searching the wasteland and accomplishing more off the additional missions I listed above. However, for the hours it does contain, RAGE is a worthwhile game that I will be playing over and over just to battle its AI and explore the beautifully crafted world of the developers.
This is one of the best user reviews that I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
best review I've ever read.. I should learn create my own review so I can post one for rage on here... oh and by the way there is a map in the game I'm playing rage right now theres a huge circle map on the upper right corner..I have'nt had any problems getting to any missions so far other then that i really enjoyed reading your review