Bethesda / Avalanche Studios (studio)
14 May 2019 (released)
23 May 2019
So it’s been just under a decade since we saw the arrival of ID Software’s take on Fallout. How did it fair back in 2011? Pretty meh to be honest as it received a decent reception but failed to grasp FPS fans for the long run and didn’t gather much of a cult following. Still it had its admirers and now Rage has been given new life by the studio behind Mad Max and Just Cause. Can this talented developer make the most of ID Software’s solid but flawed FPs and expand upon it to something greater?
Let’s find out.
Rage 2 takes place some 30 years after the event of the original game. The world has slowly began to heal and civilisation has been busy rebuilding from the ruins of the past. But things aren’t all peachy as there are those who still believe in causing chaos, many who thrive on their greed and murderous lust and also the maniacs who plan on overthrowing the world in total dominance. So it’s not much different from our world at the moment.
You play as Walker (I know, original name), a trainee Ranger who’s been given a big break when their community is ravaged by the menacing Authority. They’re the opposing force in the original game and they’re back and led by the crazed general Cross looking for revenge. So things spiral out of control, blood is shed and before you know it, you’ve become a Ranger. It now becomes a game of making contact with some of the wasteland’s most renowned Resistance members and setting up the opportunity to destroy the Authority and extracting your revenge on General Cross, who also wanted revenge.
In regards to the story, Rage 2 doesn’t improve on many aspects from the original game. Why the story is much more focused and less bloated than the original, it’s a straight forward affair of good vs evil, you’re a bland, generic solider with little personality and the only thing interesting about you is that your hands look like that of the Doom Slayer. The supporting cast is made up of people who try too hard to be quirky and likable and the rest are just dull, roughed up veterans of the wasteland who take on the fathering/mothering figure a little too on the nose.
There’s very little here that’s interesting and compared to Borderlands or Fallout, which too be fair don’t have great stories, at least have great side stories and supporting casts which really make the journey a lot more interesting.
So the story doesn’t fair well but the strongest aspect is the combat. Imagine snippets of the brutal, visceral and enthralling gunplay of Doom 2016 infused in the world of Rage. When Rage 2 sets up the action, it does so beautifully. Movement is incredibly agile, the encounters are intense and the gunplay is highly enjoyable. Guns have a powerful impact on enemies and can be upgraded to be even more devastating. There is an array of powers which the player can implement during combat, giving them an edge over the situation. These powers include Slam, Vortex and Push to name a few. Each providing a tactical advantage in each encounter and combined in the right way with a few rounds from your guns can mean everything in your oath becomes nothing more than mincemeat.
There are plenty of different locations, ranging from gas station (which hold plenty of explosive materials), high rise hideouts, underground complexes, sewers, swamps, factories and more. Level designs for shootouts is executed superbly, making every fight enjoy, fresh and intense.
It’s a shame that there’s not much of a variety of enemies in the wide open world itself. With what feels like 70% of it being made up by the generic “Goons”. From time to time you fight a special enemy and the most interesting encounters are the “Crusher battles”. But these are far and few between.
Aside from fighting, there’s plenty to explore with a massive open world that’s littered with undiscovered locations, dangers and rewards. There are hideouts to reclaim, mutant nests to destroy, Races to complete and Fallen Rangers to find. Most of these side objectives come into play with the main game, as you complete side quests; you unlock projects which allow you to upgrade various aspects to your character, making you faster, stronger and harder to kill.
But many of these side quests are quite repetitive with hideouts making up the most of them and these being nothing more than slaughter fests. It’s a shame as the Crusher and Fallen Ranger objectives are pretty entertaining and offer a nice break from all the relentless chaos. Don’t get me wrong, I love the shooting and the mayhem, but more variation in objectives and side quests are needed to break up the onslaught. Although from time to time you will cross paths with a Convey mission, where you’re tasked with taking down a large convey of enemies as they protect
But it’s impressive to see how much there is on offer in the world but at the same time, see there’s not much depth. Rage 2 can be a huge amount of fun and that’s the best way to look at it, as mindless and senseless fun. It’s unfortunate that the story is even more paper thin than before but I wasn’t expecting Fallout style of storytelling, yet it could’ve included more interesting characters. It’s nothing substantial for the long run but Rage 2 is more about the insanity in the wide open world.
While the first couple of hours are slow to be honest, the journey becomes a lot more enthralling and captivating once you upgraded a few perks and gained a couple of the bombastic weapons. The action is intense and electricfying, the driving combat is engaging but attacking conveys while in the air is much more exciting. Some side missions are pretty neat and offer some backing to the world’s lore. It’s just a shame that much else is a rinse, repeat of go to hide out and kill goons. Literally you kill goons.
Rage 2 does well to bring some insanity with its high octane action and striking visuals, but has little meat on the bone for story and majority of side quests. Still, worth checking out.
++ Intense and brutal action/combat
+ Vast and beautiful world to explore
+ Immense amount of content
-- Story is very weak/lacks interesting characters
- Majority of side missions are repetitive and grindy
An Xbox One Review copy of Rage 2 was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.