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Rage is iD Software’s first game since Doom 3 was released back in 2005. The first time that Rage was ever shown was in 2007 as a tech demo, which places the development cycle for Rage at about 5 years (1 year to complete the stuff for the tech demo and get everything ready to show, then 4 years since 2007 until it was officially released). With the amount of time that it took to develop, many people had expectations on what Rage was actually going to be. Some thought that it would be a full racer with not much first person shooting, while others thought the exact opposite. Well, Rage finally came out on Tuesday, and I can say that it is a very fun game to play.
Comparisons will inevitably be drawn to Fallout 3 and Borderlands, and while these may seem apt, they are mostly wrong. Sure, in all of these games you control a character in a post apocalyptic setting who fires guns at menacing-looking enemies, but I find that the depth that Rage has is quite different from the others. Most of this depth comes from the fact that unlike the other two games, the main customization aspect is with the buggies. In fact, there is absolutely no skill tree to plug points into your character. In addition to this, you are also assigned a generic looking guy whom you play as throughout the entire game. While your character does get armor early in the game, it is apparent that iD focused on the gunplay and driving, because once you put on the armor, you will be very hard pressed to find other pieces of armor. After about 4 hours of play, I was still wearing the same armor that I had received within the first hour, because that was the only option. Instead of finding armor, the loot that you will be picking up in the aptly named Wasteland will either be ammo, parts to build various mechanisms that will help you in your quests, or garbage that can be sold at the store. Occasionally, you will find weapons, but finding weapons is a muc rarer occurrence than in a game like Borderlands. The characters that you meet in Rage are very... unique
Instead, Rage focuses on the collection and use of different types of bullets for the guns that you have. For example, when you press R2 (or RT on Xbox), a menu pulls up with two quadrants of four on each side. The right side lets you choose your gun, which you do with the right stick. Meanwhile, the left side shows you the type of bullets available for that gun, which you can select with the left stick. What must be remembered though is that the gun menu still keeps the action in real time, so an enemy attacking you will continue to attack you if you are trying to change guns. Pulling up the menu can negate this, but if you are trying to use the quick menu, just know that it is still in real time. Whatever ammo you use though, the gunplay in Rage feels very good. Even the weakest pistol seems to work well against enemies, and the only real quip that I have with the guns is that enemies can really soak up bullets. This is never much of a problem, as bullets are plentiful, but it can get annoying dumping bullets upon bullets into an enemy without avail.
The other unknown that Rage
brought was the fact that racing and vehicles played a very large
part. While the racing and driving
does feel a bit awkward at first (sometimes the handling can be really
sensitive), once you get used to it, it feels natural. A large part of the car customization in
Rage consists of obtaining racing
coupons, which you can use to purchase guns, armor, wheels, and themes for your
vehicle of choice. When you
purchase guns, you use regular money to buy the ammo, which allows you to stock
up to take out the bandit’s cars, which populate the Wasteland. One way to obtain these racing coupons
is to win races, which can be attempted in Wellspring. The other way, which I prefer, is to
take an ongoing quest, which is given by the bartender in Wellspring, in which
you get coupons for each bandit racer you kill in the Wasteland. This is nice, because if you don’t like
to race, there is another option if you want to upgrade your car. Upgrading
your car is definitely something that you want to do if you plan on surviving
in the Wastleland. A great feature
that adds to the driving experience is the fact that upon receiving your first
buggy, you get a tow radio, which can be used anywhere in the Wasteland in
order to return to any of the garages that you find. One of the best ways that this can be used is as a fast
travel once you have finished a quest that is far from town. While it usually costs a little for a
tow, the amount of money that you come across makes the costs negligible. Rage's racing is actually quite intriguing
While Rage is an incredibly fun game, there are a few parts that sully the experience. Perhaps the most noticeable flaw is the lack of an in-town map. If you are in town and need to find the sheriff, you can bet that it will take a while the first few times. It is true that after a while, the town becomes familiar, but when I was trying to find the bar for the first time, it took a good three minutes. While I get that iD may be going for the whole “you don’t know the city, and exploring is half the fun” thing, they could have at least made it an option to turn the mini map on or off. Once you enter the Wasteland, there is a map with the breadcrumb trail that will lead you to where you need to go, but without an in-town map, the experience just seems a little bare. The other major problem I had was that upon the first playing of the game (on PS3), there is a mandatory 8 GB install. For the 360, having the game occupy 3 discs solves this problem. However, outside of the map problem and the large install, the other negatives that I had with Rage are fairly minor.
When you look at Rage as a whole, it is a very enticing experience. The differences between it and other post apocalyptic games like Borderlands are enough to warrant a purchase, and outside of the minor problems, the entire package is a great deal. On the PS3, the graphics are amazing (I haven’t played it on 360, so I cannot say for sure if the visuals hold up on other systems, but I would guess that they are fairly similar), which makes the world incredibly exciting to explore, and meeting all of the different personalities is a reward in itself. Rage doesn’t reinvent the wheel in any way, but with all of the positives that it brings to the table, that wheel is a thrilling one to ride.