Friday, February 24, 2012

Video Game Review: RAGE

Sorry about vanishing, I'm doing catch-up for the Songaday and will have that posted real soon! Hate getting behind on these things.
RAGE: Anarchy Edition Review

So, my bro got RAGE for Christmas (from me, I knew he wanted it!). He got most of the way through and stoppedfor a while, just switched games. Not uncommon for him. And so a bit ago I decided to try it out. And now I'm done with it.

Overview: As a setting, RAGE is a post-apocalyptic game. You play an ARK survivor, a person who was put into stasis pre-apocalypse who woke up eventually. Most of the survivors get killed when they come out (or are captured by The Authority and never seen again).
As a game, it's a first-person shooter built by id Software (the Doom and Quake fellows). It also tries to make a big deal out of its driving segments. Does this sound familiar? Maybe just like Borderlands minus the loot system? Yeah. It pretty much is at its core.
I'm playing the Anarchy Edition. I suppose its just like a Game of the Year edition for games that didn't make it to Game of the Year :/.
Oh yeah, and I played on Easy.

Gameplay: Okay, so the gameplay is, um, alright. In fact, what it does it does pretty good even. The aiming is smooth - I've never felt it so smooth before, though the sensitivity felt weird sometimes but I always have issues with that. There's a pretty good variety of guns.
Here's the rundown:
Fists: Why would you ever use the fists? The enemies either mob you and beat you to death since you can't have melee weapons, or they just shoot you up?
Pistol: Pretty decent actually. Weak, but an alternate ammo fixes that well enough (it's expensive and has half the clip size, but double strong). There's an upgrade that's a scope that's REALLY nice.
Combat Shotgun: Blam blam blam can I keep it? It looks really good and shoots just as well. Only problem is I use it so much I'm always buying more ammo!
Sniper Rifle: Also really nice. I love snipers.
AK: Technically Assault Rifle, but it's an AK. It's not that strong but the game throws you lots of ammo for it, so you always have a fallback.
Crossbow: Useless. The game tries a stealth thing but it doesn't work, enemies all notice you if they glance vaguely in your direction, one kill even if no one is around usually triggers them, etc. The electro bolts are pretty nice in the level you get them, at least.
Rocket Launcher: Maybe useful if you try a man-vs-vehicle thing, but why would you EVER do that?
Authority Machine Gun: The upgraded version of the AK. It has a scope, it's better in all ways except the bullets are rarer (by a lot) and cost a bajillion dollars. I liked it though.
BFG: It's an id title. Last level only, I won't spoil it since these are always entertaining.
Also, every gun has some alternate ammos, so that's a very nice touch. The gun list is varied yet unsurprising
Driving is a big part of the game as well. There are a few different types of car, and they stagger the release a bit, so you get "better" ones as the game goes on. If you please, though, you can just take the start car, do a few races and buy the upgrades, and by the time you start getting the "better" cars your already upgraded ones can handle themselves. The races aren't too bad and mostly deal with memorizing the tracks and how to whip around the corners right. ALL of the cars' handling is too slippery for my liking anyway.
Health regenerates - it's a modern FPS after all. HP regen is a bit weird visually - it does the usual edges-go-red-with-hits thing, but it takes a bunch of hits to start up and then escalates to REALLY red really fast. Not as bad as Gears of War 1's, but still not a perfect ramp.
I want to mention the enemies. Now, there are, in general, 4 types, and then a few specials for each. They are:
Mutants: Desert mutants who can only use melee, do all sorts of hopping and swinging around, are smaller than most, and who give no pickups or ammo on death. Kill them best with the Authority Machine Gun since they're fast and spraying bullets at them is likely to get you enough hits. Shotgun's good if you can keep 'em in the right range. They LOVE spawning behind you though.
Lite Bandits: Low on armor, but they carry guns and melee in about a 50/50 split. Gun ones will stay away from you and pick away at you, so find cover and use the sniper to headshot them - it's a oneshot if done right. Melee ones are gonna run right for you, and they're big enough and slower than mutants so the shotgun works really well.
Heavy Bandits: They wear armor and all use guns! Snipe snipe snipe. Unfortunately, they wear helmets, so it takes more than one headshot, and these guys take cover. Some patience and these guys become the least threatening. They're major ammo sponges though.
Authority: Heavy Armor, take lots of bullets, use lots of grenades, have riot shields, advance on you while using guns, these guys suck. Later levels have a lot of these, take 'em however you want. Snipe their heads off, shotgun them to little bits, fill them with MG bullets, it all works about the same amount with these guys. EMP shots are specialized to work on them though.
You'll fight each several times, though the exact levels of skill and behavior changes each time, which is nice, but they file into these categories usually.
Crafting. It, uh, allows the creation of a few things. I don't use them usually. The main one is a Lock Grinder that can get you into optional rooms full of ammo and stuff, and that's nice. Carry a bunch of them. Other than that, the only non-ammo item that really matters is Bandages, which, when used, drop your damage to 0. Helpful in the middle of a fight. I didn't need them TOO often since I'm on Easy, but I had a policy of carrying 20 at any given point since they're pretty cheap. There's a couple other things, like Wingsticks (which are like blade boomerangs. My bro likes them, but I never used them), RC Bomb Cars, and Sentry Turrets. Honestly, I think it's just easier to ignore them.

I need to confront the Anarchy Edition. Alright, it's got four things in it. More listing!
Double-Barreled Shotgun: Wait, its even CLOSER range than the Combat Shotgun, wastes ammo twice as fast, and isn't all that much stronger even? You start the game with it, so I guess its pretty okay right at the beginning, but as soon as you get an upgrade to the combat shotgun it's outclassed.
Rat Rod Buggy: This is the only car I ever used. Very high usefulness.
Fists of Rage: A damage boost to the most useless weapon in the game? No thanks.
Crimson Elite Armor: So, early on, the game gives you a choice of three armors: one that makes things cheaper, one that decreases crafting costs, one that decreases damage. The Anarchy Edition brings a fourth one: It does the job of ALL THE OTHER THREE. Super mega overpowered, takes away one of the few meaningful choices in the game.So basically, the game is decent gameplay-wise, but doesn't do anything to really make it stand out from the crowd, or from its superior Gearbox cousin Borderlands (which predated it by two whole years). But it's still fun, and that's what matters.Plot: The plot is, well, not new. Character (who has no name. Not that you name him, he just goes the whole game being called "the Ark survivor" the whole time) comes out of stasis to a destroyed world in a wasteland, with a tyrannical government in control of everything, and you join the resistance and stuff and fight the authority.

In the end, you wake up all the Arks at the same time. I don't really understand why this would help spark "the revolution" as the game says. You hit the button to wake up the Arks, and the game ENDS. **** this. It is REALLY unsatisfying, and was blatantly  "We want to make a sequel and so will force you ask for it by not giving you a real conclusion."
Screw you id.

The plot is unbelievably linear. No branching. AT ALL. There are side-quests, but they're mostly just working through stages backwards or doing "survive for time"-style missions, and they have no revelance to the true game. In other words, this game's plot sucks and should not be why you play it. Which is disappointing, because "You wake up from stasis, the apocalypse happened!" is a great hook! Also, there's tons of doors and stuff they could have made explorable or stuff, but they just seal them off permanently. Why include those doors!? They're just making you wait for something that will never come.

Sound: The music was back and forth with its quality. I really liked it when it emphasized the western/wasteland style, and the piano piece that plays in the intro cutscene is quite haunting. The credits song also has a great feel. However, a lot of the songs are loud/dissonant things meant to be sorta terrifying while you're in the enemy stronghold or fighting off mutants or something. Not so good, very generic. Focus on the wasteland theme, id!
Sound effects are decent, nothing special but not bad either.
Voice acting is hard for me to comment on - usually I play with no sound on and just read the subtitles. However, I did hear some of it, and I liked it. The accents weren't ridiculous usually, the lines were well delivered and flowed pretty seamlessly. So good job there id.

Graphics: This is the games high point I think. You turn on the game, and you're met with the opening cutscene, which looks GORGEOUS. Then you're thrown into a VERY good looking game. Animation is smooth and everything is moving pretty dynamically. My standard low point, the stone texture (I hate most stone texture) genuinely impressed me. Look up at the sky, and you'll see the most incredible video game sky you've ever seen.
The character models are great. They move and gesture (though it's a bit exaggerated at times) and are all VERY well designed. It helps that there isn't a generic model for NPCs, if you aren't meant to shoot them then they have a name and a unique design. And the designs are brilliant. They all look like real fellows scrounging their way through the apocalypse, trying to keep things going. You have people obviously dressed for professions they're doing that make a ton of sense in post-apocalyptic setting (an oil-drilling place had a guy in a worker's uniform, tricked out a little bit, and it all just clicked for me). Whoever did these concepts deserves some recognition, this is Massive Black type work. I actually looked up Massive Black's site to see if they WERE the ones doing it, but no.
The animations for the enemies are all very very awesome. They look generic individually, but they're always moving - the mutants bob and weave and jump off of scenery to get at you, the bandits reach up and blind-fire and look out from all sorts of spots of their cover, everyone is really interacting with the environment. You need to see them to appreciate them.
There are a couple flaws though. The first is minor - sometimes things are designed with exaggeration. The Sheriff and his office are my main examples, it's pretty stereotypical. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
The other flaw is pretty big: texture pop-in. When you look at something, it can take up to 10 seconds for the texture to fully appear. I think this is related to their technique - textures come in layers. As soon as its on screen, one texture appears, and they keep loading successively until you see the top one. If you go from a town to the wasteland, watch your gun when you appear - the textures will just pile on until it looks awesome. I see the benefit though. We don't wait a long time on lame base textures, and instead have something nearly-good while we wait for a couple more moments. It never happens with enemies, so you're never confused about that. I just thought I had to say something about the pop-in, because it IS very long. Maybe a couple less intermediate stages could quicken it up.

Conclusion: I think that's it. Overall, a great looking, good playing, okay sounding game with a lame plot wedged in. There is no replay value. The multiplayer is just the driving stuff, so that sucks. It has its issues, but it's still fun. All in all, 7/10 is what I'd go with.

Play This Game If You Like: Action shooters, amazing graphics, post-apocalyptic settings
Don't Play This Game If You're Expecting: Original or satisfying story, gameplay on par with  Borderlands, a good driving game.

End Recording,

No comments :

Post a Comment