I hadn’t played the first Rage back when it dropped in 2011. As an id Software fan, this was an oversight that I tried to correct a couple of weekends ago. I’m glad I missed it on release. Don’t get me wrong, the shooting as always was top notch, the driving - a first for id - was not bad, but the world was just so much lifeless brown meh. Rage 2, this time developed by both id and Avalanche, of Just Cause and Mad Max fame, follows much of the same template, for better and worse.
The game starts you off under attack by "The Authority", an organisation that arose after an asteroid hit the earth. These men and women believe that the asteroid was an opportunity to cull the weak from humanity, and that humanity’s best hope lays in cybernetics. To that end, this faction has replaced most of their body’s with various cybernetic limbs and parts. Their leader, General Cross, is your typical mega maniacal monster hell bent on world domination. Of course, you, as Ranger Walker, are humanity’s last and only hope, after Cross and the Authority wipe out the Rangers, leaving you as the lone survivor, the only one able to use nanotrites and all the superhuman powers that it confers on you. Disappointingly, they did not pay Chuck Norris all the money in the world to voice the male version of Walker, an opportunity that is unlikely to ever come around ever again.
And that is where the problems with the game begin. The story is lacklustre at best, a rote by-the-numbers lone-saviour story that pushes you from mission to mission, but is so stereotypical that you just don’t follow or care to read into any of the log entries that could add flavour to the world. I can honestly say that Walker’s motivation is something that I did not consider once. All I knew was that Rage 2 required me to complete certain missions, in order to restart "Project Dagger", so that I could progress to the final boss battle against Cross. Walker’s history as an Ark survivor, or was it the child of Ark survivor’s, isn’t expounded upon, except as the reason as to why he or she has nanotrites in their blood, and can thus use Ark tech - be they weapons or abilities.
Where the game shines, in a testament to id’s FPS history and Avalanche’s Apec Engine capabilities honed in the Just Cause series, is in gunplay. Firefights are visceral, fast-paced and, most importantly, exciting. Running around blasting away at bandits, mutants, and The Authority is never dull. The game moves at a pace that rewards reflex trigger-pulls rather than careful consideration of tactics and cover. Using the wingstick is just as much fun as the demos and trailers suggest. Watching that bladed death-stick fly at and destroy an enemy never gets old. Add to that the various nanotrite powers, that'll either devastate your enemies or get you out of a sticky situation, and you have a combat system that will keep you entertained for hours on end, and will have you wanting to play through the side missions, simply to engage in more combat.
The game moves at a pace that rewards reflex trigger-pulls rather than careful consideration of tactics and cover.
The cars feel heavy and ponderous, and even when you use the boost, the sense of speed is just not there.
Grumpy Old Man who still collects toys (THEY. ARE. NOT. DOLLS), PC Gamer lured to the Dark Side of console gaming, comic book reader and fan of all things pop culture.
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Avalanche Studios, id Software
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
14 May 2019
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