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Rage review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • One of the most beautiful games ever
  • Awesome FPS gameplay
  • Nifty driving as well
  • Racing minigames are superfluous
  • Some noticeable pop-in of textures
  • Disappointing last section

After spending just a few hours in Rage’s world, we were overcome with a feeling not just rare in videogames but in any work of fiction: We actually wanted to live there. It’s a more comfortable version of Mad Max, with all of the cobbled-together and lawless excitement but without the horrific desperation. Sure, the people have it rough – it’s the apocalypse, after all – but the towns we visited are downright cozy with their rustic charm and endearingly crusty characters. If we didn’t have to worry about raving mutants or the oppressive Authority, we’d totally rent out a little shack in Wellspring, hang out at the bar, and play some cards or participate in the races.

Note: The PC version of Rage has encountered some serious issues with graphics cards. See the end of the review for specifics.

It’s not just the sheer amount of detail that makes Rage’s world feel real; it’s also the imagination used to make it a place we want to just hang out in, like the aesthetic touches that make the towns feel both futuristic and retro-western, with a sprinkling of steampunk for good measure.


A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Rage is id’s attempt to create a hybrid game, both in its genre and in its multiplatform approach, which is quite the departure for a traditionally FPS focused, PC-centric company. Rage is still an id FPS at its core, but it’s also an RPG complete with chatty townsfolk and plenty of items to purchase and craft. Oh, and it’s a racing and car-combat game as well.

It’s a rather different turn for an id game. We whiled away the hours with RPG-ish distractions aimed at increasing our money and options. There’s no experience to earn, but we increased our power all the same through savvy purchases. Side missions provide money and items as rewards (or engineering recipes, which really boosted our power with high-end items). There’s also a special currency earned by winning races, and this currency is the only way to upgrade a vehicle, so players who want a totally intimidating Mad Max set of wheels must compete in races.

Above: The buggy is the main vehicle during the game, but there are a couple other sets of wheels available

The racing – which includes time trials, conventional races, and Mario Kart-style combat races – is fun and well-designed to the point of not feeling tacked-on, but we wish it had been a required part of our progression. Since the only way to buy vehicle upgrades is through race winnings, races were obviously meant to be an integral part of the game, but they turn out to be totally unnecessary, at least on Normal difficulty, because all the vehicle upgrades aren’t needed to survive out in the wasteland – we could easily just race past enemy vehicles on our way to the next on-foot FPS section, ignoring the car combat completely.

This would be a mistake, though, because the car combat in Rage is great. Once we equipped our vehicle with machine guns, rockets, pulse cannons, mines, spiked wheels, shields, mini-drones, and other goodies, the combat is sublimely satisfying in its explodiness: enemy cars burst apart with gorgeous burning wreckage, making destroying them addictive.

This solid foundation transitions into the multiplayer, which tosses aside the expected deathmatch and anything else resembling a shooter. The multiplayer is purely car combat, with several modes designed to take advantage of the speed vehicles permit. Our favorites are Triad Rally, where we had to drive through three consecutive beams of light to score, and Meteor Rally, where fallen ore must be collected and then returned to a randomly spawning capture zone. Mastering usage of different weapons and items becomes increasingly fun due to unlockables, and the well-designed maps engender exciting close-calls with swooping turns and huge jumps (with one jump leading to id’s iconic quad damage bonus). There’s nothing quite so heroic as flying off a huge jump to soar over half the map and then rain a cannon shot into a group of enemies while still in mid-air. We doubt the multiplayer will have long-lasting appeal, but it’s a fantastic change of pace from typical multiplayer – at least for a few hours.

Above: Surviving an encounter with two players giving chase isn't easy, but man is it exciting

There’s also a mini co-op campaign, but there’s not much to say about it. It’s a separate series of two-player levels that take place in environments we had already seen in the single-player campaign, with minor adjustments. Those who need to squeeze everything they can out of a game will be glad these missions are here, but for us they were only fitfully entertaining.

The less-obvious wonders

Rage also manages to avoid a standard weakness of open-world games: “mushiness.” Oftentimes in large, nonlinear games, there’s too much world for it to be all carefully designed –missions seem to occur within random buildings tossed together in the same manner as all the other unimportant set-dressing strewn about the world. Rage accomplishes the unexpected: it’s an open-world game, yet when we entered a “dungeon” it felt like a fully detailed, painstakingly crafted level from a strictly linear FPS. Rage is as if id took Doom or Quake and then broke the levels into chunks and then peppered a huge outdoor world with the pieces.

Above: The wasted world is consistently beautiful in its desolate starkness

Rage also introduced us to one of our new favorite weapons: the wingstick. We never expected something as innocuous as the wingstick to become such an addictive, crucial part of Rage’s gameplay, but we love the darn things so much we’re going to miss them when playing other shooters. Despite the underwhelming name, wingsticks are totally badass: a three-winged bladed boomerang with homing capabilities. Toss one out and the pleasing electric whirr it emits as it seeks to behead our enemies is always satisfying. But what makes wingsticks integral to Rage’s gameplay is twofold: they one-shot most enemies, and they sit in a quick-use slot, which means we didn’t have to equip them like a standard weapon. That meant we can throw one at any time, no matter what weapon we’re using or what we were doing. Caught with our pants down while reloading? No problem! A wingstick was soon protruding from our ambusher’s face.

Along with the wingsticks, Rage provided us with other nifty quick-use items like turrets, sentry bots, and exploding RC cars – all necessary, because the variety of enemies in the game had us constantly switching up how we play. Even the way that enemies clamber around the environments adds another layer to familiar FPS combat. Enemy gangs each have a theme, which also affects their weaponry, but we really enjoyed how they simply have different movement styles. The Ghost clan used acrobatics to run at us, somersault, and suddenly spring up and swing from the ceiling. The Jackals make use of ziplines and perform captivating handstand-slides along railing. This adds not only an element of novelty to each enemy type, but it also changes their silhouettes, meaning that the way we tracked targets constantly changed throughout the game.

Above: The crossbow is also a cool stealth weapon, with electro-bolts, dynamite bolts, and our favorite, the mind-control bolts, which turn your enemies into walking bombs under your control

Rage also mixes it up with it comes to shooter conventions. You can save the game anywhere, but there’s also regenerating health and even a defibrillator that gives you a free “extra life” every few minutes. With so many ways to avoid death, the game is able to increase the threat level of enemies. That said, with so many tools to save your ass in a pinch, the game isn’t particularly difficult on Normal. If you’re decently skilled at first-person shooters and want a challenge, we’d suggest starting the game on Hard mode.


The most graphics ever?

Rage sports something called the megatexture – it uses a single texture for the entire game and then continuously streams it. The result is a world without repeating tiles and also a bit of magic: for the console versions, you get a game that simply looks better than anything yet achieved this generation. Rage has the best-looking rocks we’ve ever seen, and man we never knew rocks could look so cool. As a side bonus, Rage has a framerate that just won’t quit – we’re talking 60 frames-per-second, no matter how amazing things look or how far the draw distance gets or how many enemies clog the screen. It’s just flat-out amazing what this tech has achieved. It’s not perfect, though: There is considerable pop-in where textures go from blurry to detailed.

Above: When the game looks good, which is most of the time, man does it look damn good

The problem with such graphical splendor? It raises the bar on what we expect from the game while we’re playing it. Everything here looks so ridiculously detailed that when the levels of detail pop in or don’t load properly and leave blurry textures, it stands out like crazy. Unfortunately, there seems to be a difference between PS3 and 360, and the odd part is, despite the PS3 having a mandatory install and the advantage of Blu-ray cramming everything on one disc, the pop-in is more noticeable than with 360’s optional install. Your worst bet is playing the 360 version without installing, however – and remember, it’s roughly 25gb to install.

Build up, but no release?

Rage is engrossing, beautiful, and intense for the majority of its campaign, but then it begins to stumble. The first problem is recycled content, where missions forced us to return to locations we’d visited before and replay them with only minor variations in the enemies and layout. Most of these are side missions, but there’s one main mission that had us play through another main mission backward, and it’s a fairly long section, which is disappointing. Rage’s gameplay is so good, though, that it’s not a huge deal.

Above: The Authority, despite being the climactic faction to fight against, turn out to be the least interesting enemies

What’s more disappointing is Rage’s final act. For a game that has all the appearances of an epic RPG, the reality is something much shorter – we beat it in about eight hours, which included completing some, but not all, of the side missions. Length on its own is not an issue, but Rage had us believing we’re on a sprawling, epic journey that will build up to a crazy battle against the Authority, and then it just completely fizzled out. We won’t spoil what happens, but let’s just say the final sequence was anything but epic, and we literally asked as the credits rolled: “Really? That’s it?” We must stress that the last part of Rage is in no way horrible, and that the game as a whole is polished, massive-feeling, and continuously fun. It’s just that, particularly for an id game, it built up and then left us hanging. We’re still talking about a small portion of the game, which means the campaign is great for the majority of its length and the lowest it ever gets is still at least very good.


Is it better than…

Far Cry 2? Maybe. Both games feature FPS combat, lots of driving, and RPG-lite elements, but Far Cry 2 is bigger and more ambitious in its vision. However, Rage might be your cup of tea if you prefer more single-player-style design in your open world, and of course the post-apocalyptic setting will appeal more to some over the African Savannah. Rage also features more creative weaponry, but even though it beats Far Cry 2 in terms of looks on a purely technical level, Far Cry 2 has a luminous aesthetic that still hasn’t been topped in any game.


Doom 3? No. Id’s last great game was more epic in scope despite being linear, was crammed with imaginative architecture, and featured absolutely terrifying environments and enemies. It was amazing for its time, but we doubt it would age so well. Rage certainly doesn’t rely on “monster closets” and its world is much more varied, it just never reaches the intensity that Doom 3 achieved.




Resistance 3? No, but they’re not far apart in quality. We know that one game is a linear shooter and the other is an open-world driving/FPS/RPG, but they’re also competing shooters in a crowded holiday season, meaning you’ll be considering which FPS to get in the current crop. Resistance manages to be denser with amazing moments, while Rage goes for more spread-out pacing (not just due to its open world, but also with fewer set-pieces within its FPS levels). Resistance builds up to an exciting climax while Rage just peters out.


Just for you, Metacritic!

Rage is many things: open-world driving and racing game, meticulously designed first-person shooter, stunning realization of a living post-apocalyptic wasteland, and it does all of these things well. It ends just as the party is really getting going, but even the pre-party is fantastic.

Note: The PC version has encountered some major problems, but it's not the same for all machines. First, if you have an ATI card, be extremely wary as many users have reported being completely unable to play the game. There has been apparently a driver released to specifically address this problem, but it seems some users still can't get the game to work. We played the game on a high-end gaming PC with an nVidia GTX 580 - while the texture popping was the least noticeable compared to PS3 and 360, we experienced very bad screen tearing, so much so that it was constantly distracting and making it difficult to pay attention to the game. There's no v-sync option in-game, and we've heard that if you try to force v-sync it can cause other problems. Apparently the game auto-detects your machine's specs, but then there are almost no graphic options you can customize yourself - just resolution, anti-aliasing, and gamma. If you don't have a high-end machine, you may experience texture popping and other graphical bugs that are even worse than the console versions. The game underneath these problems is still a great experience, but we cannot recommend a purchase until the problems are patched.

Oct 4, 2011

More Info

Release date: Oct 04 2011 - Xbox 360, PS3, PC (US)
Oct 07 2011 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Bethesda
Developed by: id Software
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language

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58 comments

  • jscriber100 - January 28, 2012 8:02 p.m.

    good game but didnt live up to the hype.great graphics,great shooter,great action but its all short lived.shortest campaign for a shooter ive ever played and its mostly side missions and mini games.the best part is the enemy AI but the worst is no doubt the broken story
  • StonedMagician99 - December 17, 2011 10:14 p.m.

    Having completed the SP and played the MP of this, Battlefield 3, MW3, Bulletstorm, and Gears 3, I can comfortably say that this was my favorite shooter of the year. I played it on PC, and experienced no problems whatsoever. The single-player was amazing. Great graphics, competent story, and excellent gaeplay seal the deal for me. Disappointed but not surprised that it wasn't mentioned in the Platinum Chalice Awards. Oh well. Welcome back, id.
  • codystovall - November 21, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    This was just a better looking Borderlands and I prefer Borderlands. Looking forward to Borderlands 2 and I dont mean this...
  • majamaki - October 20, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    Rage is a fantastic game when you focus on the heart of the game which is the first person shooting. To me the racing part could have been dropped, and just add more quests to kill mutants and bad guys. The gun play is tight, fast, and frantic with a good amount of variety in enemies to keep you on your toes.
  • Bossco - October 10, 2011 6:11 a.m.

    I bought this game yesterday, I'm a few hours in and, so far, I'm loving it. As for the whole "real gamers only ever play on hard" comments, I consider myself a real gamer. I've been gaming since the late eighties, I own, or have owned pretty much every major console thats been on the market since then, I read Gamesradar everyday, but I only ever play games on the easiest setting. The reason, I have a full time job, 2 kids, a girlfriend, other hobbies and an active social life (I like a drink.) I simply dont have time to spend hours and hours mastering a game on the hardest setting. I just want to play through, enjoy the story and feel like a total badass. Most of my mates are exactly the same as me. there is no shame on playinth through on easy...
  • KainCC - October 8, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Force vsync in your gfx control panel to get rid of the screen tearing but good luck with the texture popping.
  • GhostbustTyler - October 7, 2011 7:46 p.m.

    Just beat it and honestly, I'd give this a 6. I'm beyond disappointing in how underwhelming, boring, and repetitive this game becomes. I had fun for the first few hours then everything turned into a giant fetch quest with some shooting parts in between. The Vehicle combat is clunky and annoying, especially when you just want to get from point A to B without wasting rockets at point C. Some shooting sections are fun, but the Dead City levels are so drawn out and get so annoying (especially if you run out of buckshot for your shotgun) and doing the entire level over again backwards is just a kick in the balls. I was never brought into the story, the beginning literally felt like it was throwing too much at you and hoping that only the half that matter stuck, I never felt emotionally attached to anyone, and the last part is horrible. I don't get why this needed three disks on 360. The second disk contains only about 5 or 6 missions and barely 1/4th of the Wasteland. Speaking of the Wasteland, as much as it says to explore it, there isn't much to explore for except maybe some rare plants, but later on you can buy them from stores so that kills the point of it. The ending? God awful I was seriously expecting something huge, but all there was, was a half hour shooting area and the final part is just killing 30-40 of an enemy type that only appears in that section of the game. Also, for a game that boasts about having such beautiful graphics, there is waaaay too much texture pop in and having great graphics does not excuse all the other flaws of this game. Dispite having a few funs parts and fun mechanics, this game was a majorly over-hyped disappointment and I feel ripped off. Serirously, everyone save your $60 for Arkham City in a few weeks and just pick up this 6-10 hour game (if you want to finish all the quests like me). Way to break my heart id.
  • UnseenminorityK20 - October 6, 2011 10:57 a.m.

    I just installed this last night and I have to say that I am really amazed at the graphics. Since I am playing it on the pc I have experienced the screen tearing, pop in and such. I just wanted to share if anyone is playing it on pc there are a few workarounds to the texture pop in and the lack of advanced graphics settings available. I did a quick google search: " rage advanced graphics settings" and found many options to improve the gameplay. After applying the new settings I had almost no pop in and greatly improved graphics crispness. I just wanted to share because it helped me enjoy the game that much more and still kept the 60 FPS.
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - October 6, 2011 2 p.m.

    Did you find a solution to the screen tearing?
  • UnseenminorityK20 - October 6, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    No not yet but I will definitely post if I find one that works.
  • Rikoshi - October 5, 2011 8:08 p.m.

    So incredibly dissapointed in this game. I felt like i was just getting into the game, with the cool weapons and the rides. All of a sudden its like, ok u win. game was way to short and even on Hard difficulty it was incredibly easy. should have put on very hard.
  • Doctalen - October 5, 2011 12:18 p.m.

    I would have bought it if the game was longer. 25gb install for an eight hour game? No thank you.
  • RedOutlive10 - October 5, 2011 7:19 a.m.

    If it's not better than Doom 3 it's almost bashing the game to me. Doom 3 was way too repetitive and predictable, see weapon/goodies, enemies appear. Open door, enemy appear, just killed the mood of the game, it felt like a startling experiment that started to fail after you figured out they were doing the same thing over and over and over.
  • psycho ninja 4 - October 4, 2011 11:04 p.m.

    So the game lives up to the hype. I might look into it.
  • jennyleezy - October 4, 2011 10:55 p.m.

    I can tell that the author's totally gushing about the game... but defending regenerating health? Seriously? That's pretty low, considering how much you guys used to bash it..
  • GamesRadarMatthewKeast - October 5, 2011 12:11 p.m.

    I don't know how it got interpreted that I was defending regenerating health. I merely described the mechanic without saying whether it was good or bad. If anything, it was a criticism because I said it makes the game a bit too easy. I also recently reviewed Resistance 3 where I specifically said I liked that it didn't have regen.
  • GhostbustTyler - October 4, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    Been playing this for a few hours and I'm having fun with it. Even if it is only eight hours and I get done with it soon, I'll be happy with the experience I had. I disliked the beginning though, it does not pull you in like Fallout 3 does. It just throws a bunch of things at you and hopes that half of it sticks as it quickly throws you into the first mission. When I'm done with this I'll just trade it in for Spider-Man Edge of Time. Might get a lot of hate for it, but I'm not really interested in all in Dark Souls. I don't have the patience to time attacks haha.
  • W1LDxSH0T - October 4, 2011 8:18 p.m.

    this game disappointed me :( when i first heard about it i was super hyped for it, but as time went on and i saw more and more about it the game just seemed to get less interesting. besides from looking amazing nothing else was really going for it
  • Fiirestorm21 - October 4, 2011 7:21 p.m.

    Welcome back, id.
  • Jacko415 - October 4, 2011 4:01 p.m.

    Called it. Rage looks pretty, but other than that its just more of the same stuff.

Showing 1-20 of 58 comments

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