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Rage Xbox 360 Review
Better The Second Time Around
A few years ago a little unknown, and slightly over hyped, first person shooter came out called Rage. The game took an unusually long time to develop, suffered some delays, and was eventually released in a finished but technically unfinished form. After renting the PS3 version from Redbox about two years ago I wasn't really impressed. It just wasn't the game Id Software made it out to be. I just recently had the chance to play through it again with new DLC and on a new platform (Xbox 360). Has this changed my view of the game? A little bit.
The fact that this game is made by the legendary Id Studios greatly reinforces what you should come to expect; a fun, solid first person shooter, with a decent set of missions, and a fair amount of depth thrown in. Now when I say the game has depth don’t expect Fallout 3 levels of it, there is a well organized inventory/weapon selection/crafting screen but that’s about it. There is also a small amount of exploration (without a proper map) but otherwise it’s a fairly linear experience.
In a sense this comes off more like a realistic looking Borderlands without the subtle cartoony charm of that series. When I first played this it was a rental on PS3, I couldn’t get the Xbox 360 version because Redbox doesn’t rent out games that are more than one disc and I honestly didn’t feel like blowing $60 on buying it new. Why is Rage on more than one disc? I still don't quite know personally. The way people were acting about it before release they made it seem like it would be a seven disc game. The game looks pretty but it's not so much of a powerhouse that it should require multiple discs. On the PS3 (which had a useless 15 minute 8GB install) I wasn't very impressed with the look of the game, it was still fun but I couldn't really get into it. The characters weren't very engaging even the fact that they got John Goodman to voice the first civil human you meet didn't really blow me away (he didn't sound like he was into the role he was performing). The whole experience came off as kind of a disappointment. Though I came across this on Amazon for a cheap price, noticed the DLC was being sold for next to nothing on Xbox Live, and thought I would give the game another go but with all of the additional content. I’m kinda glad I did.
First 15 Minutes of Rage
Story and Presentation
Rage takes place about 200 years into the future (kind of like Fallout) after Earth has been decimated by a meteor. You play as a soldier who was tasked with protecting a team of scientists all of whom were cryogenically frozen in a "ark". 200 years later the "ark" wakes you up to find that the team is dead. Here you start your journey in the post apocalyptic wastelands. The majority of the game consists of blowing up and shooting enemies to pieces, with a somewhat tedious racing side activity thrown in. However when you get to the final chapter of the game you will start to feel like it’s unfinished (and it is). Id originally cut out a large amount of content in order to fit the game onto current gen consoles and PC, and with the way the story plays out you really get that sense that you’re missing out on something. They also made a lot of mention of the graphics being very superior at the time, and they are in some areas, but most places you can notice blurs in the textures that bring them down to PS2 levels (especially in the PS3 version where they don’t load properly most of the time.)
The above is focused around the single player portion of the game. The Multiplayer/co-op sections are a mixed bag. The co-op can be played solo or with a friend but are much easier with at least two players. The multiplayer on the other hand was a lost cause from the beginning as no one played it then and no one really plays it now. It mainly consists of racing other players and is very vehicle based. The racing aspect in the single player is already tedious and troublesome so it's no surprise that gamers didn't leap at this feature. The vehicles themselves while out-and-about in the single player wasteland are pretty cool though, and you have enough of a variety in customization and performance to know what car you’ll need for what portions of the game.
Gameplay and General Info
The control scheme is basically a copy/paste from games like Call of Duty but with some major differences. You are able to carry four weapons at once which can be switched out from the Armory screen at any time. Left Bumper uses a gadget (selected with the D-pad, also can be swapped and customized through the inventory screen). Holding down the Right Bumper opens up the weapon screen where you can use Left Stick to swap guns and Right Stick to select different ammo for that selected gun. This is a sweet feature that I wish more first person shooters adapted. The Back button brings you to your typical "command center" screen where you can manage your arsenal, inventory, craft gadgets such as gun turrets and hand grenades, and review your objectives and quests. However what this game is really lacking is a proper map. Sure we get a small radar on the upper corner of the screen, but that doesn't really help when you are driving through the wasteland looking for rare plants to make items from. They have combated this by giving the player a GPS navigation for quest lines, but if you're into free-roam and exploration you are pretty much s.o.l.
Single Player: Yes
Co-op: 2 players locally or online. The servers are pretty vacant but the co-op missions can be played solo.
Multiplayer: Yes but the community is about as much of a wasteland as the game’s setting. No one really plays it.
Number of discs: 3; disc one and two is the “campaign”, disc three is the multiplayer and co-op.
Recommended HDD space: 22GB for disc one and two, game saves, and all DLC.
Overall Length: 13 hours, 17 hours with DLC
Rating: Mature 17+ for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language
Graphics: 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Sound output: Dolby Digital
Control Scheme: Xbox 360/PS3
Left Stick/Left Analogue Stick: Move
Right Stick/Right Analogue Stick: Look and Aim
Left Trigger/L1: Zoom
Right Trigger/R1: Shoot
Left Bumper/L2: Use quick-use item (hand grenade, bandage, spider bot, etc.)
Right Bumper/R2: Toggle previous weapon, (Hold) Open weapon/ammo selection screen
Left Stick Button/L3: Sprint
Right Stick Button/R3: Melee attack
A/X: Action button
D-pad: Quick Use Item Selection
Back/Select: Inventory/Crafting/Armory/Objectives Screen
You Can Buy This Pretty Cheap On Amazon
I recommend a playthrough, and the DLC is selling for very cheap as well. Hopefully on next gen consoles they will do a remake, or re-release with everything they had to cut from the original game (including the already available DLC).
The Bottom Line
For what they managed to give us it’s a pretty good game. The gadgets you can craft are unique, even having a crafting mechanic is pretty cool in my opinion, and adds a unique flavor to the overall experience. I recommend buying the DLCs since they add to the length that this game desperately needed. The Scorchers DLC ($5) adds about two hours to the game, a lengthy new set of side quests where you fight against a new bandit clan. It also adds a new weapon, The Nailgun, that fires Nails in a machine gun like fashion, a powerful Rebar round that pins enemies to walls, and a Railgun feature that sees and shoots enemies through solid objects. The Wasteland Sewer missions add an extra hour or so to gameplay, contain a ton of loot, and if you like killing Mutants there plenty for you here. The only problem is it’s $10 (unless you’re lucky enough to get a copy with a free redeem code). Then there is The Anarchy Edition content ($2) that adds a sawn off shotgun, a pair of clawed knuckle dusters for powerful punching, and a special suit of armor that comes with all of the benefits of the game’s other three armors (you’re only allowed to pick one).
Without the added DLC the game is a bit bland in vanilla mode and only comes in at a depressingly short 13 hours. I say depressingly since for a game trying to be a free roaming post apocalyptic opus you would expect something at least in the 30 hours range, but oh well. If you want a more mature yet similar Borderlands experience this is for you. If you’re expecting something with a great deal of depth like Fallout 3 you might be disappointed. This is first person shooter first and foremost, the exploration comes second and there is only so much you can do throughout the course of the game’s semi-linear narrative. Hopefully Id Software will do this game justice on next gen like they did with Doom 3 BFG Edition. Giving the public the game that they originally intended on releasing. Even if they need to release THAT on three discs as well.
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© 2014 Eric Seidel