Rage: review

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  • Format: Xbox 360 (version reviewed), PS3, PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
  • Developer: id Software
  • Players: 1 – 4
  • Site: http://www.rage.com/

Silent takedowns have been slowly seeping into shooters ever since AI was granted a ‘blissfully unaware’ mode. Most of the time you need to sneak into neck sniffing distance of your target and then tap a button to watch a drawn out and often gruesome animation that depicts your stealth victory. Rage takes the alternate approach and instead gives you a silent takedown you can throw at people. It glides through the air, decapitates the target and then returns to your hand. Awesome.

We love the wingstick, a tri-pronged boomerang that features in lots of Rage’s promotional material and gives you raw killing power in your non-gun hand. It has possibly become our favourite inventory item in a game ever and definitely helps set the zanier tone that features throughout id Software’s latest title.

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Crossbow bolts are a great way to settle disagreements with locals.

Stepping away from the much darker, horror museum worlds of Quake and Doom, Rage is more like a horror-themed rollercoaster. Yes, there is plenty of gore, mutilated bodies and creatures that belong in nightmares, but Rage’s setting sits a lot more on the crazy side of things. For example, one character you meet has some sort of robot parrot-like creature perched on his shoulder, and another runs a reality TV show where contestants must kill waves of mutants for cash. It’s a brave leap away from what we have seen previously from id Software, but they have made a vibrant and entertaining world that sets the apocalyptic, broken society tone well.

Story-wise, things aren’t quite as well assembled. The game is set 100 years after a meteorite hits Earth and smooshes life as we know it. Fortunately, the player was buried in an ark, a subterranean chamber designed to preserve life post-meteor. Players emerge from the ark to a wasteland and the game gets going. You meet John Goodman who hands you a gun, and then the rest of the game’s story is slowly trickled to you as you meet new characters who ask you to shoot at things in different areas. The plot mainly justifies the vast amounts shooting you’ll be doing, and fortunately, this is a very good thing.

Big shooty guns are always the core of id’s games, and there’s no exception here. Every gun sounds brilliant and actually feels like they do damage. Enemies recoil as you blow chunks of life from their bodies, each successful hit sparking a pained reaction. Slamming mutants into the wall with shotgun blasts, or hearing your bullets dent and ricochet off of dense armour is immensely satisfying. The run and gun carnage is very fun and feels miles away from other shooters that give you a bad guy shooting gallery that is best viewed through iron sights. You will occasionally run across a bullet sponge bad guy that can take four sniper rifle bullets to his unshielded face which upsets the rhythm slightly, but this isn’t a major issue for the most part.

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Deformed tentacle monsters struggle to maintain friendships.

Health regenerates slowly but can be aided with healing items in your inventory. Should you go down a quick time-like event allows you to use an implanted defibrillator to revive yourself. This has to recharge before it works again and so never feels overpowered or like a cheat. In fact, this second chance helps compensate your frustration should you not have healing items equipped. Talking of equipment, the inventory system can get confusing in the heat of the moment as you can only have one item assigned to your quick-use button. It’s very easy to throw a wingstick when you mean to heal, or use a precious bandage when you don’t need it.

From a distance and at a glance, Rage looks fantastic, with beautiful sprawling environments and detailed character models that are amongst the best in the gaming world. When you get right up close to some areas and really start to study them, some of the textures look low quality and not quite as magic is it all first appeared. However, the world of Rage is so manic and chaotic that you rarely have time to stop and scrutinise the few areas that don’t quite match up to the majority of the game’s graphical superiority.

You can traverse the world via car, where the game gives you a third person view of the vehicular carnage. There are only four vehicles in the standard version of the game, but they are fun to drive and introduce another layer of combat. You can also participate in several races to upgrade your vehicles. Whilst the races do get tiresome eventually, you don’t need to complete many to get the upgrades you require, and only a handful are mandatory.

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You know you've kicked the hornets' nest when these guys appear.

Vehicle combat spills over into the online mode where there are several car arena modes that allow you to compete with three other players. It’s surprisingly fun and reminds us of classic Twisted Metal style gameplay, even if the environments feel a bit sparse at times. A co-op mode also lets you and a pal pick up guns and stroll through unique missions that fill in some of the back story from the main game. The lack of a competitive on-foot multiplayer mode strikes us as odd, but the modes available are good, even if they lack the long lasting appeal that some online modes add.

Rage is a great single player game that offers excellent gunplay from start to finish. The ending appears very abruptly after about 10 hours and serves as the game’s biggest disappointment, but other than that there is not much to fault. The shooting mechanics are fantastic, as are the enemies and environments. Navigation is never an issue as you just need to follow the carnage around the brilliantly designed mission areas to find your next objective. Id have done a great job at creating a shooter that has a classic feel to it, whilst still sticking to modern FPS principles.

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Written by Anthony H

Anthony has been playing games for far too much of his life, starting with the MS-DOS classic Mario is Missing. Since then his tastes have evolved to include just about anything, but his soft spot lies with shooters and the odd strategy game. Anthony will inspire you with his prose, uplift you with his wit and lie to you in his biography.

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