I got to play Rage as part of the Promotional Grant, however Jeff put a small dent in my enthusiasm with the following tweets:
Warning: Id’s Rage is very, very bad IMHO. Neat tech, terrible game. Well, there goes $60.. I say “bad” because I have absolutely no motivation to keep playing Rage after 2 hours in (I loved Doom3). The tech really IS amazing tho.
Granted, two hours is hardly enough to judge an entire game, but I can see where he’s coming from. I have been ‘enjoying’ myself so far, but its surely not flawless. As Jeff mentioned, the tech makes it look great. Great and realistic lighting, massive environments
But I have a feeling this is mostly skin deep. What do I mean by that? Physics engines in games like Half-Life 2 have spoiled us, but I hate how objects in Rage are so static. You see a table covered with papers and other objects, but no amount of movement and bumping against the table will make them move and feel ‘alive’.
Which brings me to another small beef of mine. As a gamer used to RPGs and shooters like Max Payne, I tend to scour around levels looking for useful stuff, like ammo and supplies. Initially the game makes you pick an armor and I decided to roll a Fabricator, hoping to craft awesome weapons or useful items.
However, the world turns out to be sparsely filled with these items, making me regret my choice. While its still worth the while to open up locked doors or check out seemingly empty rooms, most of the time its better to stop searching and simply enjoy the fighting.
But the fighting takes me to my next point: the weapons, they suck. I hate games where it can take one or magazine of ammo to take down a single opponent. It doesn’t matter how often you hit them or where, there seems to be a fixed amount of damage an opponent must take before going down. This reminds me of games like Halo or Resistance, where it sometimes feels like your shooting with a pea shooter. Now there are guns and types of ammo that ail this problem, but the ammo for these are sparse and like I said: there are hardly enough resources to craft them.
Lucky for me, most of the time I can simply hide behind some object, pull out my sniper riffle and take them down in 2 (!) headshots. This is made possible, because the enemies have a total lack of AI. Now this may be because of the difficulty setting and it certainly doesn’t hold true for mutants, but nearly all the other enemies you encounter in the game are just sitting ducks. Sure they take cover, but you know just as well that they’ll have to resurface to shoot at you. There’s no moving around, trying to flank you or ganging up on you, so the game basically dissolves into a high res version of Duck Hunt.
Then there’s the racing. The racing is ‘special’, the races are never really challenging (might be the difficulty setting), the cars don’t drift, which makes taking corners awkward for anyone used to racing games and again the physics are terrible. The only reason you won’t win a race is because you either don’t know the track or because their cars are better than yours. While the races are supposed to be a refined version of Mario Kart, which means you get to shoot at your opponents all the time, its far more effective to simply drive as fast as possible. After a while you’ll have a safe distance between you and the runners up and you can drive to the finish without any problems.
Outside of the races there are also ‘fights’ against one or more bandits, who try to blow up your car. The further you get into the game, the more bandits you have to shake off. Sadly, unless you have a rocket launcher on your car, taking out 5 bandits can cost a ton of ammo and being up against their rockets makes for an unbalanced match. What’s worse, you only get paid 10$ per bandit you take out, while one round of ammo costs 25$. Its basically not even worth your money to take them out, if not for the racing tickets it gets you.
So do I think the game is worth $60? Probably not, the game looks good, but other than that every element of the game has been done better somewhere else. The only reason to play Rage, would be if you already played everything that’s better than it. But then again, the fighting against mutants can be quite exciting and regardless of its flaws I have enjoyed myself for over 10 hours already. So if you love shooters and see a nice special offer on Steam, I would recommend it. If you had to pay full price, hold your money for the ‘real shooters’ coming out this holiday season.