This is an article by Guest Author Roberto Sotelo submitted to the Gaming Historia Team!
Rage 2 was announced at E3 2018 and showed us a much different game than the original title. With this announcement in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the first Rage and examine what made that game good and deserving of a sequel while also pointing out its flaws.
Rage was a new IP from Bethesda back in 2010. It was highly anticipated, as most new Bethesda IP’s are. The premise involves Earth being destroyed by a giant meteor, with a protagonist that is known as an Ark Survivor. Ark Survivors are a selected group of people who were supposed to rebuild humanity after the fallout.
People were excited for a new game with that Bethesda charm of open-world exploration, breathtaking visuals, and great combat. The expectations were high, especially since the game was being created by ID software. People knew that it would have amazing gunplay as they were basically the founders of the first-person shooter genre. People got exactly what they expected from the creators of Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake. Rage contained Bethesda charm with the ID Software spice and shooter expertise.
Rage is not a terrible looking game. It has very colorful visuals and creative environments. The developers captured the beauty of a post-apocalyptic wasteland very well. However, I played it on the PS3 and there was very bad pop-in at every turn. The graphics would be muddy and then slowly render fully, which ruined the experience immensely. I’ve seen Rage played on other consoles and while it isn’t as bad, it still is definitely there.
Other than that, the graphics definitely do stand out. With any post-apocalyptic setting, there needs to be a soundtrack to go with it and Rage sadly does not deliver that well. The soundtrack is forgettable and is honestly just background noise most of the time. The music (especially during battles) would often loop over and over with extremely obvious cuts. One good thing, however, is that enemies will often insult you or call out to other teammates and it makes the experience more enjoyable and believable.
The AI only heightens that experience. The AI in Rage is realistic and believable. Enemies will swerve and maneuver out of the line of fire, hide behind cover and transfer between covers to get closer. Also, the enemies even react directly to the way you attack them. Different enemies also have different variations of attack patterns. Raiders are quick yet clumsy. You can see them trip over themselves and even make dumb decisions like running straight at you.
Mutants swarm you and attack viciously. The Authority is tactical and smart. While the enemy variety isn’t vast, Id Software makes up for it with different subclasses within the main enemy types that act differently. The AI is incredibly realistic, which makes the experience more challenging, especially on harder difficulties where the AI is smarter and the game becomes more difficult.
Rage is forgiving with death, as there is a game mechanic that allows a self-revive. When you die, you play a small mini-game to try and come back to life. If you are successful in the mini-game, you are instantly revived and pick up exactly where you died. The catch to this is that you need to wait for the cooldown to recharge before you can revive yourself again. This prevents you from abusing the mechanic and dying over and over again.
When you do finally die though, it involves a game over and you will restart from your last save. The problem with this is that the loading takes a long time. Even worse is that whenever you go into a new area, the game saves before you enter that area, not afterward like most open-world Bethesda games. This causes you to sit through a loading screen to reload your save and then another to enter the area again. The long loading times make not only deaths but the entire game more of a frustrating experience because of the dread of loading screens. The gameplay makes it all worth the trouble though.
As I said earlier, Rage has that ID Software spice to it. It has amazing gunplay that is both challenging due to the AI but also rewarding because of the weaponry. The weapons have powerful kicks to them, and various mods and attachments that you are able to add to them to enhance them further. Also accompanying the guns are various items used for combat, mainly the Wingstick. The Wingstick is a four-sided bladed boomerang that can be thrown at enemies.
Aside from the amazing gunplay, however, is the disappointing driving and open world exploration. While Rage has you shooting and fighting enemies in confined stages, the open-world has you able to drive around to explore and reach objectives. Sadly, there really isn’t much exploring to do in the open-world. There are barely any activities and it is entirely filled with huge open spaces of nothing. The driving doesn’t do much to add to the game either. It is simply used for not so fun races and getting to objectives. The driving is nothing special and feels almost empty alongside the open world.
The world of Rage does have a story though, even if it is not a very good one. You play as an Ark Survivor that has just woken up from stasis to find the world a post-apocalyptic mess. You venture out and are suddenly sucked into a mess you did not intend to get involved in. This is the main premise of the story, just lots of fetch quests and favor-for-favor type quests. Even when the main villain is introduced, we do not see them until near the end of the game.
Rage leaves off with a cliffhanger that will most likely be continued in Rage 2. The game also ends directly after the ending cutscene, only proving that there is not much to do aside from the main game. Side activities reward extra things for the character, but it is really all useless since there is not much to do other than the main story. Overall, Rage was a good game but had a largely lacking open-world and a story that leaves more to be desired. Here is hoping the sequel can capture what made the first game great and improve and add to what this underrated game had.