What’s all the RAGE about?
Recently, I acquired id Software’s 2011 shooter RAGE during an Amazon sale. Most of the critics I trust either gave it a thrashing or an okay score, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to see id Tech 5, especially for the meager asking price of $10. After five or so hours with the game, I was addicted. But what about RAGE enthralled me so much?
The framing device is incredibly simple. As one of many survivors of a global disaster, you emerge from your protected hole to find that Earth has fallen into the hands of the usual dust bowl apocalypse pick-and-mix; roving gangs of savage bandits, quirky characters in positions of power, and your odd straight man. If you’re getting flashbacks of Bethesda’s incredibly similar Fallout 3, that’s okay. You’re really not the only one.
RAGE and Fallout 3 are different in two distinct ways, though; Rage has some fantastic combat, and Fallout 3 is a deep RPG, although I’ve seen wading pools deeper than RAGE. Once you exit your Vault-like area, a mysterious savior arrives in a dune buggy, hands you a pistol, gives you a waypoint and tells you to kill everything you see. No, I haven’t missed a single step. That is literally the opening of the game.
In addition to that dreadful opening, there are driving sections, fetch quests, and a paper-thin rebellion plot. Not to mention the game comes on a whole 3 discs and requires 22 GB to install the game to the Xbox 360′s hard drive. All of the preceding issues on their own can be serious problems for me. But I’m super excited to play more RAGE after finishing this article and I was racking my brains trying to figure out what exactly about the game is so appealing.
And then I got it. It’s the shooting. RAGE has some of the most satisfying gunplay I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Enemies react in some cool ways to gunshots, between staggering upon being shot, realistic death animations, and sometimes they can just get back up when you think they’re down. There’s also some good flow, thanks to a short time-based minigame that triggers upon death. This minigame, when executed correctly, instantly revives you and kills nearby enemies.
The weapons are plentiful too, with a really great shotgun and a bladed boomerang making short work of the weaker groups of enemies. There’s also different ammo types, and it’s worth experimenting to see what fits your play style best. So the combat is enough to justify RAGE’s existence.
What is it about really good shooting that overshadows everything else? Fallout 3, which I mentioned earlier, has some unfortunately unwieldy combat, but I sunk weeks into 3 and New Vegas. They had these immersive worlds with a lot of fun quests given by interesting characters.
Deadly Premonition is another game with excellent story and characters, but playing that game can be a chore at times, with its outdated combat system and admittedly sub-par driving. But the story makes slogging through all the gameplay problems worthwhile. Final Fantasy X is in the opposite position; there’s some really fantastic turn-based gameplay there, but the story and characters are terrible. Every now and then, a game comes along with flaws that would cripple any other, but still works in spite of itself. RAGE is one of those games, if you ask me. The shooting is so addicting that I can forgive everything else RAGE fails at.
How about you guys? Any flawed games you can’t help but love?