Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fallout Lite

Game: Rage

System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC

Release: October 2011

Rage was one of those games I really wanted to love. The classic post apocalypse setting. Vehicle races and combat. Open world environment. Gorgeous graphics and smooth gameplay. All are ingredients for a great game, but something was missing. That something was variety.

If you've played the first half of Rage, then stop. The second half is exactly the same. Find the main town. Get some guns and vehicles. Upgrade equipment by earning money from completing missions and races. Watch towns get taken over by the "Authority" as secrets from your past are revealed. End with some sort of climax. Rinse, wash, repeat. It's like having sex twice in a row. Everything is still fun, but you've seen it all before and it takes longer to finish.

The plot is almost a blatant rip off of Fallout 3. Instead of Vaults there are Arks. Instead of The Enclave there is The Authority. Instead of ghouls there are mutants. The main character wakes up/escapes/leaves the Vault/Ark to change the chaotic world that has risen from the ashes. Outside they encounter multiple factions that range from wild mutants to small settlements to large cities. Rage is like Fallout stripped of the compelling plot, interesting setting, and RPG elements. It's Fallout Lite with vehicles.

Gameplay is what you would expect from a title developed by Id. In this regard, the creators of Doom and Quake have not lost their FPS touch. The controls are smooth and responsive. Driving is fun, and reminds me of my days working on Mercenaries 2: World in Flames. Weapons are your standard FPS arsenal with the exception of the crossbow and wingsticks. The latter is basically the boomerang the kid used in the movie Mad Max, and both are a vain attempt to provide a stealth option.

Enemies could be smarter, and most encounters follow the standard FPS rhythm. Melee characters will charge blindly into your cross-hair. Gunslingers will attempt to hide behind cover yet always seem to poke their head out just long enough for you to get a shot off. If you stay in one spot for too long, then a grenade will be tossed to force you from cover. None of this is bad, but it hardly provides anything unique to a saturated genre.

The standard gameplay formula is enhanced by the top notch graphics and sound. I found myself staring at the vast landscape and beautiful clouds for minutes at a time. Character models are nicely detailed. The voice acting is a mix of no names and celebrities like John Goodman, but all deliver their lines well. The music fits the environment, but doesn't particularly stand out. All in all the presentation is the strongest selling point for Rage.

Presentation alone, however, doesn't make for a great game. The unoriginal plot was poorly executed. The repetition is terrible, and affects everything from pacing to gameplay. If this game was released when the PS3 and Xbox 360 launched, then it could have been a hit. Yet after so many years of shooters Rage fails to stand out from the crowd.

No comments: