I’m sorry. RAGE wasn’t on my list of games to play, but I was desperate for something to fill the gap between Forza 4 and Gears of War 3 and I had a very good reason for skipping the new Deus Ex game (because I forgot about it).
So I ended up with 3 discs of overwhelming under delivery. Based on the box and title, RAGE (all caps, but for good measure picture an anarchy symbol instead of the “A”) seems like it should be a high-energy hybrid of Borderlands and Fallout, both games that I really enjoyed (ahem… eventually). The premise certainly sounds familiar: lone wanderer emerges from facility where he was isolated from society for decades due to impending apocalypse and is greeted by post-apocalpytic world containing bandits/mutants/evil overwatch.
Of course you immediately turn into peoples’ errand boy. Listen, game developers, I understand that this is the mechanic for 99% of games out there, and there are even times here when it works. Want me to take those supplies to a neighboring camp or go talk to some guy for you? I can do that, just let me know when and where! Oh… you want me to plow through an entire gang of bandits with a pistol because you don’t like them? That’s… okay, what?
There’s a thing called context, and this game doesn’t have it. I’m not a super soldier who descended from the heavens to save the world. I’m just some random guy who stumbled out of a
vault spaceship that had to be saved from those same bandits about 10 minutes ago – giving me a pistol doesn’t suddenly make me your conquering hero. But this is a thing that just keeps happening. Go wipe out [enemy group] in [location]. I won’t say the combat is bad, but it doesn’t seem to have any real meaning. None of the groups you fight ever go away; you just end up getting distracted by different groups.
As the game progresses you hop from person to person, doing what basically consists of that same mission over and over. I think there is only one location that you actually visit twice via the story missions, but the side missions of the game generally seem to send you to the exact same place you just were again instead of introducing anything different or interesting. Later in the game you inevitably meet a resistance group that does what any good resistance does in games like this: sends you, the guy they just met, on a bunch of “critical” missions while they hang out in their secret base (pro tip: that airship dock may be a giveaway as to the location of your hideout).
It is at this point where I wish games like this had a “fuck you” button, because I could press it and the game would eject itself and walk its sorry ass back to the video store so I could go back to doing something worthwhile. Because no such invention yet exists I finished the game and, to quote myself when I was telling Abe, “it was a bunch of bullshit”. RAGE had a solid chance to make up lost ground on the second disc (how a game that has less than twenty hours of gameplay in a mostly linear environment can require two discs is beyond me). They tease with some information about how overwatch has had a hand in creating the mutants, but you never resolve that. And there are tiny snippets of the game where you actually end up fighting alongside others for the same purpose, whether it be clearing out bandits, escaping from prison, or capturing a power station, and those are the parts I wanted more of. That’s what the endgame should have been.
Instead the final missions are solitary and feel inconsequential. You fight some stuff, and then watch an impossibly short cutscene (HOW IS THIS GAME TWO DISCS) in which the game halfheartedly tries to convince you the world has been saved because you’ve sent a signal to all of the other arks to “awaken” them. It’s not like anybody who already came from an ark was almost attacked by bandits or abducted by overwatch. I’m sure they’ll be totally fine.