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Discussion The Patient Gamer: RAGE

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
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Just completed my playthrough of the maligned 2011 post-apocalyptic "open world" id software shooter RAGE.

Ultimately, I'd give the game a solid "yeah it's OK" followed by a "just a little bit more and it could have been a masterpiece".

RAGE came out during the early 2010's post apocalyptic frenzy that involved Fallout and Borderlands, which likely did not help its reputation as a sort of "me too" shooter with a similar aesthetic but seemingly without the same depth or replayability of others in the genre.

I went into the game knowing a few things: a lot of people complained about the driving element which was supposed to make this game stand out, a lot of people complained there was a bait and switch on the open world elements, and a lot of people complained that the game basically comes to a screeching halt and ends at what feels like 2/3 of the way through the story. I can confirm all of these things are true, but the game does do some things very right.

The game is really a very solid shooter: the gunplay mechanics are fun, there are very few "hit scan" enemies so the game really rewards an aggressive & mobile playstyle as opposed to the standard cover shooter, and while crafting is certainly not central to success in the game it does provide a fun way to spice up your playstyle.

RAGE also really nails the atmosphere element in a big way. The game is absolutely stunning visually, it was a solid 5 years ahead of other games released at the same time with regard to visuals (yes there are some blurry textures, but the overall scene is incredible, and any texture streaming performance issues did not exist on my machine). Beyond just graphics and art direction, the game's enemy animations are incredibly well done (watching mutants navigate the environment is creepy as heck) and the sound design is wonderful, with rich ambient sounds and time taken to give human enemies "radio chatter" that actually provides valuable information on the remaining enemies left to engage, etc.

In terms of what went wrong: the driving element is perfectly serviceable, even on a KB+M, and your vehicles have a number of upgrades you can purchase for them (not much depth here, but its something) however driving around the "overworld" to missions gets pretty dull after a while. There are races to take part in when in a friendly town, but the races are either staggeringly easy (this isn't a racing game so the other cars drive "fair" without any rubber banding, I ended up almost lapping other racers in this mode) and other races that involve a sort of capture the flag mode in an open arena can be frustratingly difficult since the AI does cheat and is aware of where the next flag is going to be placed. Luckily, only a couple very easy racing missions are required to progress the story, the rest are purely optional.

The game cannot accurately be descibed as an open world. You get a mission, you drive to the mission, you blast your way through a very pretty corridor shooter style map with some boxy rooms, then you exit this maze near the entrace of the level and go back. Most mission areas are used twice: once as a story mission and once more as a side mission, but unfortunately nothing really changes on the second run through the level and there is no attempt to use newfound abilities to open new paths or channel the player through a novel experience. The game could have really been something special if it was more willing to commit to its "metroidvania" elements instead of taking the "lazy" way out. One major story mission actually has you doing a prior story mission exactly in reverse (start where you ended the first mission and work through the whole thing backwards with a different set of enemies).

Lastly, the ending. Yeah, it was *really* abrupt. No final boss fight, no tension leading up to an obvious ending, nothing. Even the final cutscene was a straight up 30 second cinematic with no voiceover or anything. The final battle is a very easy wave defense thing and then the game just... stops. It really does feel like id either ran straight into a drop dead-line or they flat out got bored of making their own game and just decided to push it.

Ultimately, I spent about 16 hours going through the game at a reasonable not-rushed-but-I-do-want-this-to-be-over pace, and I had fun along the way. The game is definitely worth playing for $5 and unlike some other "OK" games I've played, this one does some things spectacularly well and other things are very "meh" as opposed to just being a "meh" experience all the way through, and that is worth something.
 

DigDog

Lifer
Jun 3, 2011
11,178
897
126
where to start;

first, id software, that amazing software house behind games such as Quake 3 Arena, and whose netcode is still used in part in modern shooter games, THAT software house, released a game with popping textures and said they could not fix this without some intense rework which, a guy on youtube fixed by changing 3 settings in the console.

RAGE kept Q3's strafejump movement (gain speed by alternating W+A and W+D keypresses simultaneously with angled mouse movements) and yet designed the maps so as to be small, cluttered and useless for strafejump.

The weapons are seriously nerfed compared to any previous Doom / Quake game.

The art design is really mediocre, with the grey/brown palette dominating everything, which, you may think, is appropriate for a postnuclear wasteland setting, and it COULD be, but also add the ridiculously bland postnuclear wasteland story, and the combination of the two is "here is THE SAME EXACT STORY you have seen ten times before, in game form".

Driving was mediocre, AND it was tied to advancement, so if you were a FPS fan but hated driving games, well sucks to be you, here's 10 hard driving missions you must pass in order to advance in the game.

Oh and no grinding - no, you're on a timer, with a fixed amount of health, and also a lot of randomness. You hasve to sit through these and pass them or you will be stuck.



So, you played RAGE, and did not die. ok? That is a pretty darn low bar, son. I also played RAGE, got it about 1 week after release (had no money), and i cannot think of one good reason to prefer it over ANY other game.
Ok maybe the mission in the TVshow was not horrible, but that's about it.
Borderlands is vastly superior, while being similar in scope.

And the issue is all down to game design; if you make all mobs either shoot hitscan weapons or move faster than you, and design the maps to be tight corridors, then it's not a surprise that you'll spend half the time crouching and half the time walking backwards. Add a bland and boring storyline with no memorable characters, and you got RAGE.

Really, almost ALL the positive reviews were either "oh but look at these textures they got SO MANY PIXELS" or "THANK GO I ONLY PLAY QUAKE AND DOOM FINALLY I HAVE ANOTHER DOOM OR QUAKE GAME TO PLAY".

<- has been playing Quake every day since 2008
 

GodisanAtheist

Platinum Member
Nov 16, 2006
2,415
837
136
So, you played RAGE, and did not die. ok? That is a pretty darn low bar, son. I also played RAGE, got it about 1 week after release (had no money), \
- I appreciate your thoughts. Looks like you picked up the game around launch and got burned hard. I'd likely feel very similarly if I picked this game up at or near full price. That's precisely why I make these posts.

I'm playing the game for the first time roughly 9 years from release. Got it on sale some long time ago and I'm just getting around to playing it. Paid $5 for it, so I'm not stuck with the preconceptions that come from having payed full price for the game. Hardware and memory have advanced to the point that the game doesn't encounter the same or any level of streaming issues on modern hardware and looks great. Its 16 hour length, while probably hugely disappointing for big fans expecting big things at release time, was just the right amount of game right now. Lastly, we seem to have gotten the flood of post-apocalyptic everything out of our collective systems a bit so the fairly generic art style has a chance to stand on its own merits instead of getting compared to the last 5 games everyone played.

In that light, I felt that Rage was not an outright bad game and really did some things well and other things in a very slipshod kind of way. But if you're looking for a chip off the old post-apocalyptic block its not a bad option to pick up and play. Frankly I was able to actually somewhat enjoy the game compared to something like Borderlands, which I've never been able to get into at all.
 

DigDog

Lifer
Jun 3, 2011
11,178
897
126
my opinion of rage got worse as time went on. I dont mean play time, but .. time.
I liked it when i got it, and suffered through the bits i didnt like (the first boss was HORRID), but as i thought back on it i think ID focused on things which were nto important and did little work on thinsg which were.

Of course it's unfair to compare a big-ass $$ studio doing Borderlands and a much smaller one as ID is, but in the end i think that rage was a game worth some degree of technical prraise, but ultimately mediocre. Gameplay = boring old stuff, story = boring old stuff, visuals = a bit better than boring old stuff but not really used to any potential (think instead the Far Cry series).
And i played the whole game hoping it would be as good as Quake 1 or as Doom 2 but .. it wasn't. It wasn't BAD, but it was not at all as good as the old Doom games.
After about a year later, i realized that there was nothing memorable in that game.

Take .. again, the example with Borderlands. Im not one of thos emassive BL fans, at all. BL doesnt have the movement system of the ID games (which is what makes the later Quake games so great), mobs are bullet sponges, and the weapon drop system become repetitive after a while. And the visual diarrhea of colors is really hard to stomach for more than half an hour at the time. But.

It's got great characters - Claptrap, Tiny Tina, Moxxy, Mr Torgue, Handsome Jack; it's got great dialogue.

The weapon system is .. DIFFERENT. It's not really something classy and well designed, it's more like looot-box-gambling insanity whose charm wears thin pretty soon, but at least it's NEW. It's something that we haven't seen since Diablo (which had the stats, but not the weird mechanics of the various weapons). And you really only spoil the fun once you start grinding for that one perfect weapon.

The visual style is unique. It's in no way as detailed as Rage is, but it's certainly something which is different.

Again, i know, unfair comparison, but i think that ID put all the effort in the wrong places with Rage. And it's because they lack invention - it's time to design something AS GOOD AS DOOM, not YET ANOTHER VERSION OF DOOM.

I mean .. sure, make another doom that is as good as doom, but dont make a version of doom that only has higher rez textures, but is slightly worse in everything.


Another comparison, for example. Take the old, classic FEAR.

If you havent played "F.E.A.R." i say, you drop whatever you are doing and run out to buy it.

It's a game you can criticize for years - it's all gray, bleak, and the environments are extremely repetitive. The game s overly long and badly paced. And it's all, ALL OF IT, just you in a slightly different than before office layout shooting the same exact monsters as before but a couple more of them.

However .. it's got things that no other game has.

The guns are AMAZING. And if you are a game designer, you gotta know what other games are your competitors, and what they have done, before you, BETTER than what you are designing now.
Grab a FEAR shotgun and pulverize your enemies. find two extra grenades and feel like a god.

The AI was actually very simple, but well implemented which gave a feeling of being against real humans, and the game was actually hard. Decent pathing and a decent AI script and you couldn't just hide behind a corner.

It's got scary stuff in it, and by no means anything we haven't seen before, but those jumpscares happened at the right time. And it's even got a couple of memorable characters.

So there you have a game where all the effort was put into the right places, and even if you can criticize other aspects of the game, it's ok to excuse those things because the real meat and bones of FEAR is done so well, that it overshadows everything else.

RAGE didnt have that.
 

DAPUNISHER

Super Moderator and Elite Member
Moderator
Aug 22, 2001
22,049
2,431
136
Thanks for the reviews. Have not played it, but started Rage 2 on game pass, and so far it is unremarkable in every way. Only through the initial stuff and first boss, so hoping it gets much better.

Played a lot of the first 2 Borderlands in co-op, very enjoyable. Trying to play solo on the presequel, and cannot get into it at all. The redundancy is boring, in a rinse repeat way. Have to try it with others and see if it can engage me again, like the old ones did. I doubt it though, this style of loot and shoot does not do it for me anymore.
 

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