Rage 2 Review
Open world games have largely become synonymous with coming along with a checklist of activities to do over the years. On paper that sounds great! games are expensive, and so people are looking to get as much bang for their buck as possible. However this can actually go one of two ways. It could be similar to a Ubisoft title where yes the gameplay is fun, but there’s never really a strong narrative or connection to the world driving your actions, you’re really just playing to blow shit up and have a good time. It can also go down the path of a Rockstar game, where the story and world building are incredibly strong, making immersing yourself in the world, and seeing the end of the characters journey the top reason to play. Rage 2 falls mostly in the first category, both to its credit and its detriment.
ID has never made shooting bad guys feel quite this good before
The past few years have made the type of old school, fast paced shooter come back in full force. For years it was more traditional shooters like Call Of Duty, and Battlefield that dominated the market, but lately it feels like that’s been dying out. When ID released the original Rage back in 2011 it was essentially a fun technical showcase. Yes the gameplay was solid and the story had interesting elements, but the game truly existed to show off their new iteration of the IDtech engine, and it fell flat for most people looking for something more. While the engine was undeniably impressive, particularly for how good it ran on console, ID didn’t truly come back into the spotlight until they released Wolfenstein: The New Order in 2014, and their Doom reboot in 2016. That’s why when Rage 2 was revealed to be a partnership between ID and Avalanche studios (from Just Cause and Mad Max fame) I thought it sounded like a match made in heaven. ID could bring their fantastic shooting mechanics to the table, and Avalanche could develop a beautiful, vibrant open world with plenty of interesting activities to tackle. Sadly only one of them lived up to the hype.
The combat and gunplay in Rage 2 can be described easily. It’s responsive, tight, and once you’re done there’s sure to be several mutants gore on the battlefield. Every gun never stops being fun to use, whether you’re popping an enemies skull with an assault rifle, lighting them on fire with explosive rounds from a revolver, or throwing them across the room with magnetic bullets. It’ll never fail to entertain you, even after doing it all again for the 200th time. The powers you unlock are also great fun, Ground slamming foes into oblivion feels wonderful, just like force pushing somebody a hundred feet into the air. There’s also an extensive upgrade system for your guns and powers that helps give the gameplay an extra level of depth, making some of the grind worth it.
Avalanche’s Open Worlds Have Never Felt So Dull
I don’t really know what to say about the open world of Rage 2, because there really isn’t anything there to talk about. I mean sure it’s got all the trappings of a typical Ubisoft open world. There’s bandit camps to clear out, collectibles to pick up, oh and don’t forget about the generic races to compete in! The problem isn’t just that it’s generic, the real problem is that it’s been done much better before. The open world feels lifeless despite the load of activities peppered on the map, the game goes from decent looking to blurry and downright ugly, and the car feels floaty. It never stands out in any area except for its shooting mechanics.
You Thought The Original Rage Had A Bad Story? Oh Boy...
Okay so the story of Rage 2 can be perfectly summarized like this. You’re a handsome little army guy stationed at a camp. A bad ugly fella storms the camp with his army known as the authority and kills your stepmom who you get to know for literally less than five minutes. You’re angry and want revenge, (although you’d never know it because both the voice acting and writing are filled to the brim with pure laziness and cringe) and now you’re off to make a couple generic friends and defeat the equally generic big bad guy.
The original Rage didn’t have a great story. Your character never spoke, the people you met were only ever slightly interesting at best, and the authority, once the mystery of who they actually were was gone, turned out to be pretty generic. But atleast there was some mystery, atleast the characters actually had a chance of being mildly interesting, and hey the art style for the game was still suitability grim and could promote a sense of unease. None of that’s in rage 2 at all, including the grim art style, that’s been taken out for a boring combination of pink and purple that manages to look even less interesting than this years Far Cry New Dawn. Oh and is the ending better than the infamous ending of the original? I don’t know how they did it, but they somehow managed to make it even more inconclusive and abrupt than the last one.
The Verdict: Should You Buy Rage 2?
No you shouldn’t, atleast not at full price, but one day in the future when it inevitably goes on sale, or if you can find it to rent, I would still recommend it. Yes I just spent the majority of this review criticizing the game, but I can’t stress enough just how good the shooting is. It’s some of the best gameplay I’ve ever seen in an FPS game. When you’re in a bandit camp ripping enemies to shreds with explosions going off around your character at 60 FPS, it’s truly a thing of beauty. I can’t help but wish they would’ve dropped the open world idea altogether, written a better narrative, and just made a typical FPS game. It would’ve been great.
Shooting and powers feel fantastic
The upgrade trees are extensive and add an extra layer
It runs very well and does look beautiful at times
Solid sound design
Horrible story and bland characters
Lifeless open world
It can look washed out and ugly at times
Gets repetitive much faster than it should