Friday 7 June 2019

RAGE 2 ★★☆☆☆

‘Rage 2’, the sequel to ‘Rage’, is the latest game to have been published by Bethesda and was developed jointly by Id (creators of ‘Doom’) and Avalanche Games, who created ‘Mad Max’. It’s yet another open-world first-person shooter, this time set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. You play as Walker, the last surviving ranger who must stay alive amidst the mutants (noted as having cleft-lips and cleft palates as one of their main features, which there has been some controversy over).

You can see immediately from playing that Id took much inspiration from ‘Doom’, with many of the gameplay aspects shooting-wise feeling very similar, with just a few extra abilities. There are abilities from double jump to ground pounds and they are all fully upgradable to suit your personal style. The weapons have upgrade trees however they are quite small and linear.

Avalanche developed the open world for the game and unfortunately, this is where the game falls short, especially when competing with open worlds like ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ and ‘Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey’. The problem with making a post-apocalyptic wasteland is that it will always tend to be rather dead and lifeless (think brown, with various shades of brown and occasionally some more brown) and I got the feeling that Avalanche just ran out of ideas of what to populate the world with.

Sure, there are many activities littered all over the map to discover, which you can do by yourself or by getting tips in the various towns. But these activities are quite limited in type, being mainly exploration areas or some sort of combat encounter with one of the factions in the game. What I’m getting at is that the game gets fairly repetitive and, because the main story is quite short for a game of this genre, a lot of your time will be spent doing these side activities.  I’m sure others will agree that there is only so many times you can shoot the same 2 - 3 bandit character models in the head before it gets a bit tedious.

While you are travelling through the world you will certainly notice that there are some breath-taking scenes, and graphically it is very advanced as you would expect on the Id engine. The developers try to add some colour within its town and so on but it just seems a bit off in this world and doesn’t fit with what a rage game should be.

All of the above might not matter if Id and Avalanche delivered on a story with the excellent writing of the original consoles but again it just falls flat. The main character of the game is unlikeable and not relatable at all, making terrible jokes while slaughtering hundreds of bandits and mutants. I found Walker to be overly arrogant, which made me completely apathetic to his cause. The story is sub-par with a villain straight out of a sci-fi movie from the 90s, and the payoff at the end of the game was really not worth going through all of the tedious activities beforehand. If I’m honest, I felt like I could have spent my time doing much better things.

I loved ‘Rage’ when it came out in 2011.  It felt so ambitious despite a couple of issues, but the game had heart and was a labour of love. ‘Rage 2’ feels like a hollow world and a bit of a mess, so should be bought on sale at the very earliest (or second-hand, of course) if you’re considering buying it.  The moment to moment gameplay is so fun but it is let down by almost everything else in the game.

Hannah Read

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