Jason takes a look at ID’s Rage.

These days, I tend to consider myself an Indie gamer, for the most part. I play some popular FPS games like Team Fortress 2, but otherwise I prefer the magic and artistry smaller studios have been putting out of late. With that said, it should be noted I’m definitely an id Software fanboy. I grew up on Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and Quake, and I even bought Quake Wars: Enemy Territory when it came out. I was really looking forward to see what id would do with Rage and how a new franchise would establish itself. I’m going to make this write-up a two-part bit this week, and in this one, I’d like to pay the game some respects and explain why it would be worth the time and money to give it a play.

Starting up the game, players are greeted with pretty amazing visuals. All the textures and graphics right down to the character models are really impressive. When characters talk, their mouth movements echo how a person’s mouth would move in real life. Interactions with a few of the characters are notable in how well-scripted the NPCs actions are, like Coffer. Some of the scenes in the game are done really well, and the game features really pleasing aesthetics overall. The voice acting in the game is completely stellar. Map layouts and even weapon models look sleek and smooth. The whole game is designed to really tantalize the player’s eyes the whole way through to the end.

However, all the beautiful eye candy in the world can’t save a game that plays poorly. In the case of Rage, players are treated with some impressively tight feedback in gameplay that flows smoothly. Movement doesn’t feel jerky at all, and every facet of getting from point A to point B, including handling a weapon, feels responsive and empowering. Rage features a minor but significant focus on racing, and the controls here are easy enough to use and flow fairly well with a bit of time spent getting used to them. The game allows ironsight aiming if the weapon doesn’t have a scope, and this can be helpful at times when enemies use cover. Firing weapons and using melee feels like it should, and it doesn’t interrupt the stream of action. Having an item slot gives players more freedom to face challenges instead of just shooting everything that moves, especially when items such as the RC bomb car or wingsticks come into play.

In terms of pleasing a wide fanbase, there are some obvious parallels between past Bethesda-associated games and Rage. The most obvious is the constant reference to “the wasteland” (Fallout 3/New Vegas), even down to the map designs. The inventory system and crafting also evokes memories of Fallout 3, and the system in place that encourages the player to talk to NPCs in order to get sidequests is present in Fallout 3, Borderlands, and the Elder Scrolls series of games as well as this one. Watching mutants duck, roll, and climb over obstacles in order to tear your eyes out also plays into fond memories spent playing Brink. It really feels like Bethesda took some of its most-loved ideas from previous games and repeated some of the same elements in this one, and each of those previous games was a relative success.

Continuing with the fan service, there are a few secret rooms as well, serving as Easter eggs for old school gamers who remember id Software’s previous gems, in addition to dispensing loot. This is certainly a game that has tried to find a way to reward players for exploring the piles of rubble and dust in the world. There are plenty of ways to earn enough money to acquire everything a player would wish to buy ingame. Ammo is in a relatively common supply whether scrounged from felled foes or purchased from the shopkeepers. The handful of minigames provides some brief time away from the main missions as well as another alternative to raise funds for gear. The collectable card game within the game fits into about the same place in Rage that pazaak did in Knights of the Old Republic, and it’s relatively challenging enough to warrant multiple plays.

All of these elements combined give players lots of things to do ingame and amounts to a seriously good time. The enemies in every different area change enough to keep the fights interesting. Rage definitely has everything a console gamer could want in a game. There is plenty of action to go around, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Rage up for Game of the Year. There’s no doubt Rage 2 is around the corner somewhere, and id is probably hard at work on it as we speak. This is a game worth checking out, especially if you play with a pair of thumbsticks.

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