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November 7, 2011
Rage - PS3 Review
Release Distributer Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
6/10/2011One To AnotherBethesdaid Software11-4
Media HDD Install Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Visuals in Rage are astounding.
Rage represents the first new franchise id Software has released in fifteen years. Who are id Software? Only the developers behind legendary first-person shooters such as Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake. Needless to say the expectations were exceptionally high with Rage. Unfortunately our expectations may have been set too high because Rage never threatens to live up to the greatness of id Software’s previous titles. It’s good but not great and if you want to know more just keep reading...

The game’s intro is slightly vague, but the gist of it is that a meteorite the size of Manhattan is just about to slam into Earth and wipe out the vast majority of the population. Mankind is apparently unable to stop the meteor from crash-landing, but what they can do is set up the Eden Project which sends volunteers deep underground in shelters known as Arks. At preset dates in the future the Arks will rise to the surface and the survivors will begin a new life in a world no-one can imagine.

You awake in your Ark some 106 years after Apophis hits Earth. Unfortunately all is not well in your Ark, and based on the desiccated bodies within every other pod you can see, it appears you are the only survivor. Before you’ve taken more than ten steps in the wasteland that is future Earth you’re attacked by rampaging mutants. Luckily a friendly human named Dan Hagar is nearby and he saves you from a painful death. Of course nothing comes free in the wasteland and before you know it you’ll be doing jobs and killing mutants and bandits just to earn your keep. Welcome to the future.

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One of the many townsfolk.
Rage is mostly a first-person shooter and as you’d expect from id Software the shooting mechanics are rock solid. The controls are pretty standard by now – L1 aims, R1 shoots, L3 sprints (though you can’t sprint for long), R2 selects equips one of your four selected weapons, circle ducks and triangle jumps. There’s a decent range of weapons including a pistol, a couple of shotguns, assault and sniper rifles, a machine gun, a crossbow and a rocket launcher. If you purchased the Anarchy edition of the game you’ll also get the Fists of Rage which adds spikes to your melee attacks as well as a double-barrel shotgun from the outset.

Many of the guns have different types of ammunition available, most of which add more power and usually bigger explosions too. The Fatboys for example are bigger, more powerful bullets for your pistol, but the tradeoff is only half as many fit in the barrel. With the crossbow you will eventually be able to make dynamite bolts for extra oomph, as well as mind-control bolts that let you take control of your target temporarily. Later in the game you’ll find armor-piercing bullets for your assault rifle, which will are a great help in taking down armored enemies quickly.

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Rage has plenty of weapons.
There are also a bunch of secondary weapons you can use. These include wingsticks (think boomerangs with blades) and grenades, as well as cooler stuff like sentry bots, sentry turrets and remote-control car bombs. Most of these weapons can be bought from merchants but you can also purchase or find schematics that show you how to make them. Purchasing the items needed to make the weapons is much cheaper than buying the weapons themselves making the schematics well worth acquiring.

While most of the game plays out as a first-person shooter there is also a lot of driving – the wasteland is a sparse place, and with mutants and bandits roaming wild you don’t want to run everywhere. To this end there are multiple vehicles you can use including an ATV, a couple of buggies and an armored vehicle called the Monarch. As part of the Anarchy edition you get the Rat Rod; an improved buggy which is sure to help you win races once they become available.

Vehicular combat makes up a reasonable portion of the game. When traveling from place to place in the wasteland you’re sure to be accosted by bandits, so once you have the funds you’ll start decking your vehicle out with weapons and upgrades. So far as weapons go you’ve got mini-guns, rockets and pulse ammo, and for upgrades you’ve got performance tires, spiked tires, better suspension, shileds and boost upgrades. Every vehicle can boost to one degree or another, but boost upgrades give you that little extra kick.

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Vehicles play a large part in Rage.
Killing bandits in the open world will earn you money from bartenders who are sick of seeing their liquor get hijacked before delivery. This encourages you to destroy them which in turn gives you practice for the many race events you can participate in. At a couple of the bigger towns you’ll find time trials, races (with weapons live of course) and mini-rally events where the aim is to both reach checkpoints before your rivals, and also to blast them to smithereens.

The races, with the exclusion of the rally events, are quite easy to win and earn you racing certificates you use to upgrade your vehicles. The rally events are a bit tougher partly because the checkpoints appear in semi-random locations often behind you or at the far end of the track, and partly because the CPU opponents instantly know the best way to go to reach the checkpoints. They’re still winnable, but they’re tougher than your average race to win.

The multiplayer modes are not what you’d expect from a modern day shooter. There are two modes; Road Rage, which takes the rally-events from the campaign mode and makes them a four-player free-for-all, and Wasteland Legends, which is co-op shooting in nine short scenarios.

Road Rage is a bit of fun, but it’s hard to see anyone getting more than a couple of hours play out of it. While you do level up and earn upgrades as you go the levels just aren’t interesting enough, nor is the premise engaging enough to keep you coming back.

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Melee weapon vs pistol, I back pistol!
Wasteland Legends is a lot of fun, and like many other shooters the game thrives when you play with a friend. Like the campaign mode the Legends are light on storytelling but you’ll get the gist well enough to have fun. Most of the Legends will have you and your friend gunning down bandits and mutants, but there are also a couple of missions where you need to work together. For example, in one Legend you must defuse bombs in the water supply; one of you must spin a wheel to open up a pipe while the other dashes over and defuses the bomb. It’s simple but it’s also good fun. Each mission takes around fifteen to twenty minutes to complete and all of them are entertaining.

The main issues with Rage are the story, which is light on content, providing just enough to send you from point A to point B, and how this effects the missions themselves. While some missions are engaging, more often than not you feel like an errand boy, running from place to place with for no other reason than someone asking you to do so.

Here you are in a futuristic wasteland with plenty of firepower at your fingertips and you’re off looking for a missing person (I bet you $1 they’re already dead), or trying to find a flower to make some pain medicine, or going back to a place you just visited for some inane reason or another. Realistically many games are heavy on fetch quests but Rage’s biggest failing is that it can’t make you care about them – the reasons behind them are paper thin and that affects your enjoyment significantly.

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id Software's Rage is out now on PS3.
The other big issue is that there’s nothing here you haven’t seen and done before plenty of times. Functionally there isn’t much wrong with Rage, but there’s also nothing here that’s going to get you excited. The races have the feel of padding the game’s length rather than being truly exciting in their own right, and the people around the wasteland are a rather uninteresting lot. The multiplayer modes just aren’t up to the level of other shooters out there.

I also found it a bit strange that wingsticks, a clearly outdated weapon, is usually far more effective than your guns. You can shoot forty assault rifle bullets at an enemy without them dying, while a single advanced wingstick (which aims itself too) will lop off their head. This is either very strange or strangely fitting – I never figured out which...

One area where Rage clearly excels is in the graphics department. It looks fantastic throughout and runs at a silky smooth sixty frames per second. Much of the game takes place surrounded by cement walls or underground, and while this would usually spark complaints Rage looks too pretty to complain about. When you’re outside the views you’re treated to are crystal clear and occasionally breathtaking.

Environments are full of rusting relics from yesteryear, and graffiti is just about everywhere. While the setting borrows a bit too heavily from the likes of Mad Max it is still beautifully executed. On the downside objects can fall into the floor and enemies get stuck in walls sometimes. On the plus side the targeting is extremely accurate – often in games you’ll shoot through a small gap only to find the bullet can’t get through – that doesn’t happen in Rage, if you can see it you can hit it.

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World detail in Rage is stunning.
The sound effects are of a high standard, with enemy snarls and growls often giving away their location before you can see them. Human enemies will speak their orders aloud, often alerting you their forward thrusts and when they retreat. There’s not a lot of music but what’s there is used to successfully heighten the tension during gunfights. The absence of music also makes the quiet feel that much more dangerous, with danger luring at any turn. Gun sounds are sufficiently beefy, while the voice-acting flutters between very good and just ok. None of the characters are particularly interesting, but that’s more to do with the script than the acting.

Overall Rage is a functionally solid game that falls short in the story-telling and multiplayer departments. The shooting aspects are well done, and vehicle combat is reasonable without being great. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before, and the game never reaches any great heights. And that’s a shame because it looks fantastic and promised a whole lot more than it was able to deliver. With a bit of work on the story and some more interesting inhabitants Rage would be a far more compelling title. As it is this is one for ardent id Software fans and those looking for something a bit different in their first-person shooter.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSThe best part of the game. Rage runs at a silky smooth 60fps and looks fantastic throughout.
SOUNDBeefy sound effects, tension-building music and decent voice-acting.
GAMEPLAYThe mechanics are fine but it’s all a bit generic. No ‘wow’ moments or exciting new ideas here.
VALUEMany shooters add incredible value via multiplayer, but that’s not the case here. The campaign has decent length but may not be exciting enough to get you to play through more than once.
OVERALLA great looking game that can’t quite cover up the run of the mill gameplay. Not bad by any means, but there’s nothing new or exciting here either.

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