RAGE 2 Review

By Mark Delaney, 1 month ago
"When all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." The old adage is meant to convey how those with limited resources can only go about solving their problems with the tools they have, not those they may wish they have. That mostly captures the spirit of RAGE 2, although its hammer-and-nails approach isn't due to a lack of resources — it's enthusiastically built that way. With the first-person gunplay of id Software and the open world design of Avalanche, there's a lot of pedigree behind the game's development, but a remarkably short campaign and repetitive enemy encounters can't take this stylish shooter from good to great.

RAGE 2

RAGE 2 takes place several years after the first game, and though it does tie in with it in several ways, ultimately none of those feel important. The story is background noise in RAGE 2's brash, pink world. Having played the original RAGE twice over the years, I hardly felt connected to it at all, which is fine. It's been years and the dual developers took it in a new direction for the better. The style of this new version of the RAGE wasteland is one of its best attributes. That live-action Andrew W.K.-led reveal trailer last spring carries into the anarchistic, uberviolent RAGE 2 seamlessly, and just the way you'd expect it to with id Software behind the game.

For their part, combat is the game's greatest feat. More accurately, it's the extensive skill tree and powers you unlock that make fighting and shooting so satisfying. Guns feel varied and chaotic and even very inventive at times, with one pistol hitting enemies with a spark which you then trigger into small infernos with the snap of your fingers, almost BioShock-like. The shotgun is extremely fun to use with its dual modes of a destructive spread shot or, if aiming down the sights, a more powerful single round shot that will easily tear enemies limb from limb. The powers you find by exploring the world's Arks make for some of the most visually satisfying combat I've seen in a shooter. With several different attacks like a ground-pounding Slam, a bullet-dodging Dash, and a damage-multiplying Overdrive, dispatching baddies has rarely, if ever, looked this good. It is immensely stylish, over-the-top, silky smooth and simply awesome — for the first few hours.

Then you finish the eighth story mission, likely become stunned to learn it's the last one, and are left with nothing else to do but mop up a familiar open world that feels, fittingly given the paired studios, like the offspring of DOOM and Mad Max. Various vehicles each offer different stats and abilities. There are plenty of side activities to tackle, from bandit dens to taking down mini-bosses, all to serve the game's three allied factions, each of whom give you yet more currency to spend on yet another skill tree in a game that has about a half dozen different ways to make your character better, faster, stronger — but for what?

Rage 2  Screenshots

Typically in a sandbox such as this, you grind out a number of side activities to prepare your character for the next big main quest, but in RAGE 2, you'll finish the story so fast that you end up overpowering your hero at one cookie cutter map icon so you feel even stronger at the next. It's a pure power fantasy and proud of it, and that's not an invalid north star for a game, but it's implemented poorly here and leaves players all dressed up with nowhere to go. It's too bad, because with a bit more variety and a few more actual missions and RAGE 2 could've been special. Instead, it's rarely better than good, though it's never worse than that either, so that's saying something. If you don't mind checklisting, the shelf life will feel much longer, but most people have seen this sort of game a dozen or more times over the past few years alone, and they all balance main missions and side missions much better than RAGE 2.

The achievements actually aren't so tough or time-consuming. Estimates on site are calling it about a 25-hour completion and that's unaffected by which difficulty you play on. You'll need to finish the short story mode of about 8-10 hours and tackle a great number of the open world quests, though even then not all of them.

Check out our Best Xbox One First-Person Shooters Available in 2019 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

RAGE 2 is a pure power fantasy and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. It serves up some awesome powers and skills at an irresistible pace and makes the player feel like they're ready to take on the whole wasteland in one go. The problem is the story is over so quickly that you're soon left with nothing to do but exactly that — drive around the world, stop at every icon on your map, blow up everything inside, and move on. The amazing gunplay and combat of RAGE 2 shouldn't easily get so stale, but because of an open world all too familiar and a story that hardly gets going before it ends, players are left to rule over a kingdom of dirt.
3.5 / 5
RAGE 2
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent approximately 15 hours in the pink wasteland, thoroughly enjoying the first half of them. He gathered 23 of 44 achievements for 425 gamerscore. A review copy was provided by the publisher.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves most kinds of games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of gaming, he likes bicycling, binge-watching, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.