Monday, February 29, 2016


The MAD MAX game you didn't know you needed.

Hell awaits your soul, will you dare face more id Software reviews through the following links?

From id Software/Bethesda Softworks/JP Square Enix (Japan)
Played on Xbox 360
Also available on PS3 & PC

Type Post-Apocalyptic FPS
Year 2011

There's been a few Mad Max-inspired video games over the years, official or not. George Miller's franchise had a tremendous impact on pop culture as a whole and came to define the entire post-apocalyptic genre. The franchise had a huge lasting influence on fiction ever since, becoming the main inspiration behind huge successes like the Fallout video game series to the Borderlands games or the Japanese franchise Hokuto No Ken

But few have come this close to actually capturing the feel and sound of Mad Max.

RAGE is a post-apocalyptic action game developed by id Software (the first title following their acquired by ZeniMax), and published by Bethesda Softworks for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2011. The first of their games to actually have been developed with the console port in mind first.

Tim Willits (one of the original owners of id Software), who had been lead designer on Doom 3 taking over the creative director this time. The lead artist on the game was the French cartoonist Stephan Martinière, who notably used to work on original on Inspector Gadget for DIC Entertainment back in the day. The story of the game was written by Matthew Costello who is no novice here since he did tons of novelizations over the year and also wrote Doom 3 prior to Rage.

Spoilet alert, turns out he has a name, but you have to really dig for it. It's Lieutenant Nicholas Raine, former marine.

The game takes place in a world where the real life asteroid 99942 Apophis actually hit Earth during its estimated impact of 2029.  The world was then turned into this now-desert post-apocalyptic wasteland where humans strive to survive in small settlements. Criminals and mutants roam the country, there are these small factions and clans. And lots of cars survived the apocalypse apparently.

The story follows this unnamed protagonist (one of those personality-impaired main characters again??), the sole survivor of an "Ark". What is an Ark, you ask? They're these shelters people built in order to keep certain people in stasis while waiting for the end of the world. Our hero finally woke up in 2135 only to find the world destroyed on the surface. This project didn't succeed and all Arks seem to have been damaged.

Our hero soon meets this guy the settler Dan Hagar (voiced by noneother than actor John Goodman!!]). He explains him the world is now controlled by the Authority, a shady group that acts as a rogue government of sorts in the Wasteland. They're also looking for the protagonist for some reason.

He goes on a few odd jobs as he tries to understand what happened to this world. He discovers a few other settlements such as Wellspring and Subway Town, and finally helps fighting off mutants and the Authority.

As the story progresses the reaches of the Authority expand into the Wasteland...

Gameplay in Rage is sort of broken into two distinct parts.

The first and principal part of the game is played like you traditional first person shooter games.

Nothing radically different from you would expect from an id game. It's combat oriented with several weapons to collect. While the variety of the weapons don't offer any real big surprises, to be frank, there's at least a neat crossbow as well as Rage's only real unique addition. A pretty fun "boomerang"-type of long-range weapon called the wingsticks which is pretty fun and perfectly suited for stealth attacks.

You have to either collect ammo or buy it before missions. All weapons also posses alternate fire.

The game has a decent variety of enemies from mutants to gearheads, such as the "ghosts", the "jackals", etc.

The other part of the game is spend driving around to explore the world and navigate between locations.

And id didn't skip on this part since it's pretty well built, fun and playable too! You can also upgrade the car, repair it or buy others vehicles.

These vehicles will also be used for entering races.

The world of Rage is a huge open world sandbox but fairly easy to travel around and memorize. Driving around is also the best way to find hidden stuff and side missions.

And if that wasn't enough, there's also plenty of minigames to play with. Not just racing but also board games, QTEs, a card game which I wasn't really a big fan of as well as this fun arena battle called "Mutant Bash TV" - a throwback to the arcade classic Smash TV  of all things!!

As usual per id tradition, Rage was developed alongside their new engine id Tech 5, from John Carmack. It's a very impressive leap of technology after what they built back for Doom 3, sporting very impressive texturing, supporting huge modern resolutions and dynamic textures, a great range of dynamic effects and motion  Even playing this game on low settings back then proved quite impressive compared to most similar games at the time. id Tech 5 would go to only be used in a handful of titles but still impressing to this very day, such as Wolfenstein: The New Order, Wolfenstein: The Old Blood as well as The Evil Within!

Rage was a passion project for id for a very long time, and it's easy to see all the references that inspired it. Aside from the obvious take on the Mad Max trilogy, it also takes a lot of inspiration from classic games like MotorStorm and Burnout.

The game is a fairly fun and straightforward experience. Kind of built upon id's last few titles such as Doom 3, Quake 4 and Wolfenstein. A lot of the game is actually optional, they never force you to do much driving if you don't want to, you have the ability to still get money and most upgrades through combat or by racing.

The world of Rage is not entirely linear. While the story itself is pretty straightforward, there's plenty of secondary optional missions to explore the world and find various hidden surprises (including fun, if short, easter egg recreations of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake 1!).

The game employs a similar system and progression as Wolfenstein 2009. There's this huge HUB world you can explore, which is your way to access the different stages and missions. It makes the game fall in-between your usual traditional linear shooters and "action RPG" (it's not quite an RPG, but close, think Zelda games, kinda).

It's no a true RPG, which I suspect a lot of people where thinking this game would be because of the Fallout comparison. There's no real progression linked to the character, but you can actually upgrade vehicles and weapons.

You cab find new kits to build weapons. You need to collect ammo and spare parts.

The game took a pretty long development. It originally started pretty dull, grey and boring. So I'm glad id took the extra time to both work on the engine and polish and expand the game.

Still, some parts feel a bit rushed, or overlooked.

It's a really gorgeous looking game, and in fact it still remains so to this day. It was one of the best looking titles when it was released, it's fast-paced, has great framerate and details. This was such a huge complex game for the last gen, it even required several DVD discs on the 360 and PC!

Where the game doesn't impress as much is the lazy way the story finds itself inserted in the game and the fairly standard gameplay. But I wouldn't exactly call the execution boring.

There was some DLCs released for the game. Aside for a few missions and weapons DLC, some contained in the early Anarchy Eddition via free access, there also was a fun sewers-cleaning story involving a mutant infestation as a fairly long sideplot and "The Scorchers" DLC which offered a final chapter originally cut from the final release of the game about this clan trying to kill everyone in the Wasteland which was also pretty fun. (I'm still waiting on those Rage 2 hints, id!!). That last piece of DLC also added an "Ultra Nightmare" difficulty and allowed to keep playing the game after the main storyline's completion (which should have been available in the original game to be honest). These DLCs would have a few new characters, enemies, areas and minigames as well as the great new weapon, the nailgun!

Despite releasing modding tools for the game, the modding community never took much on the game and there were only a handful mods created.

Finally the game also had mulitplayer modes: "Road Rage", free-for-all arenas that made use of the vehicles based around kill points kills and "Wasteland Legends", short co-op missions similar to a short campaign.

Rage was really not a bad game. It's a great shooter. Mixing modern action games mechanics with an old school FPS formula. The enemies were really the star of the game, getting to shine in the game by jumping around, climbing the ceiling, dodging you, etc. The AI was pretty great for these enemies roaming these complicated environments. They are so fun to see, face and defeat!

It's a fairly long game for a shooter, with a lot of content. In fact there's too many side missions really, it can get a bit repetitive. 

The plot didn't really get much focus until late in game. The gameplay works well, as you'd expect from a game from the guys who made Quake II and Doom 3. It's kind of old school, since you can carry all of weapons at once while relying on a modern regenerating health system.

The game also contains tons of references to id and Bethesda as well.

The music was really impressive, covering a wide range of genres whenever it needs to. From a more epic cinematic musical score to fun rockin' guitar tunes. It was composed by Rod Abernethy whose name might be familiar to Dead Space fans.

Overall, Rage was a fun FPS title that receiced a pretty harsh reception at the time, but it really didn't deserve it.

Some called it dull or bad, but this is far from being a bad FPS game. The story, while not really originally, worked as a nice pretext for the settings. It's a fun original IP, for a change. With great action, gorgeous-looking graphics. And a solid decent gameplay. And let's not forget the great AI work!

The real problem I have with the game is the lack of a proper closure and no. Real. Final. Boss. Fight!! Come on, id!?! At least throw in some Cyberdemon in there if you don't know how to end a game! (It worked for the Wolfenstein RPG!)

Despite all its flaws and all, it's easily one of my favorite games from id. I always love new IP starters! 

A port of the game was supposed to be released for the Vita, but, well... Is the Vita still a thing? Seriously though, it was scrapped pretty early on for development issues.

In a way, it's the best Mad Max game ever made.
I give it:
2 / 3 VaultBoys!

No comments:

Post a Comment