id's Rage: Flawed, Flat, But Occasionally Fun


Rage is id Software's first game in seven years and its lead developer, John Carmack, has more than earned a spot in the video game industry's all-time Hall of Fame. Rage, however, doesn't live up to its pedigree*. While it's not a bad game, it's a shadow of what we hoped for. There's no character customization in Rage and the game world, while gorgeous, is fairly small. You'll see plenty of jaw-dropping scenery, but you won't be visiting 95 percent of it.

Tomorrow's weather: Cloudy, with a 100% chance of impact winter

The game takes place 106 years after Earth is struck by the asteroid 99942 Apophis. Prior to the disaster, the US government created a number of Arks as part of a plan to ensure human civilization wouldn't be irrevocably wiped out by the asteroid's impact. You awaken as the sole survivor of your Ark, stagger outside, and are nearly killed by mutants. A local roughneck, Dan Hagar, shoots them off your back, offers to give you a lift to the nearest settlement, and the game begins. Unfortunately, the plot doesn't.

Mission Structure, Plot Holes:

Rage's engine is capable of producing some stunning visuals, both across large amounts of terrain, and in closer environments.
The town of Wellspring is pictured on the right

Rage's Uprising trailer, released in early August, implied that the game is a struggle between the heroic members of the Resistance and the tyrannical Authority. In reality, you won't even encounter the Authority until more than halfway through the game. NPCs make disparaging remarks about the organization and claim that Ark survivors meet a bad end if the Authority finds them but for an evil dictatorship, the Authority plays a very limited role.             

That's a Sand Person Shrouded Clan member on the left, a rather cranky mutant on the right.

Instead of battling an oppressive government, you spend most of your time wiping out local groups of bandits, even when they don't actually offer a believable threat. At one point, the local sheriff tasks you with wiping out the Shrouded Clan due to the number of RC car bombs they've been manufacturing. Imagine the look Darth Vader gave George Lucas when informed that Ewoks would be responsible for blowing up the second Death Star, and you've got an idea how well this comes off.

Other than a few fetch quests and delivery speed runs, Rage's missions boil down to "Go to X and kill everything that moves." The lack of alternate solutions is downright distasteful in some cases—at one point, you're charged with killing off the Gearhead Clan because the mayor of Subway Town doesn't want to pay his electricity bill. NPCs repeatedly refer to your "special skills" when it comes to handling such jobs, until we began to suspect that the player character was packed off to the future as some sort of murderous enforcer.

* Note: If you intend to play Rage on a PC and you own an AMD videocard, you'll need to update your drivers. The game is effectively unplayable on Catalyst 11.9 or previous versions. Some Nvidia users have also complained of texture artifacts, screen tearing, and texture pop-in, but the problem seems more severe on ATI hardware. Nvidia recommends gamers experiencing problems install the 285.38 beta Forceware drivers.

Tags:  rage, id Tech 5

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