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

Graphics and Gameplay

On a positive note, Rage is one of the most beautiful games we've ever seen, even with the current detail level issues. It's a good thing it is, because the game tends to make you revisit the same area multiple times on different missions. Luckily, the environments are worth a second trip.

The hapless Authority grunt on the left is about to demonstrate why carrying a large combustible tank on your back is a bad idea.
Rage's environments are varied, colorful, and evocative despite static lighting.

The game's various enemies are brilliantly animated and each tribe has its own style of movement, fighting, and taking cover. Members of the Ghost Clan are incredibly acrobatic and favor leaping and tumbling attacks, often armed with melee weapons, while the Shrouded Clan favors heavier armor, automatic weapons, and tends to fight from cover. Mutants, meanwhile, tend to boil out of nooks and crannies and will climb along the ceiling to reach you. The only downside is that the bad guys get to have all the fun. There's no cover system in Rage, and no acrobatic options for the player.

The game's various weapons are solid and sound great. Various ammunition types extend weapon usefulness—the game's starter pistol is a pea shooter when loaded with standard ammunition, but can take down even late game enemies in a few shots when equipped with Fatboys or Fat Mamma rounds. Weapons can be swung in melee attacks, but the hitbox feels too small and the swings are too slow to be effective against the game's quick-moving enemies.

Rage tends to spawn certain enemy types behind or to one side of you, but the behavior is much more organic than it was in Doom 3, when aliens had a tendency to come boiling out of the ceiling or pop out of nowhere from a room you just cleared. Mutants will often scramble through cracks in a wall or hammer their way in through an inconvenient wall. As a tactic, it keeps the pressure on without devolving to the level of a sucker punch. 

The driving races and missions are fun (and almost entirely optional).  Vehicles can be customized to a limited degree. If you're looking for a detailed driving model and tons of upgrades to tinker with, you'll be disappointed with what Rage offers, but casual players wanting to run a few quick races without sweating a bunch of details should find plenty to like.

A rogue's gallery of Rage. Characters are beautifully detailed

The game's controls were clearly optimized for console's first, PC's second. Scrolling with the mouse, for example, only switches between four predefined weapons, ammunition switching is bugged (it only functions properly if the weapon in question is on your preferred list), and there's no support for more than three mouse buttons. This is particularly glaring, given the need to juggle offensive and defensive capabilities when driving.

It's a small issue, but the lack of proper mouse support from the company that invented an entire genre of PC gaming, is a discouraging sign of where the big money is.

For example, mouse function during a card-based mini-game is particularly limited.  The mouse wheel can be used to scroll horizontally across one row of cards, but you can't click on a specific card to select it, or change the highlighted row without clicking on a down arrow.

Tags:  rage, id Tech 5

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