RAGE – Updated

[Multi Plat.] - Review: RAGE finally hits, but is it all that it was cracked up to be?
The Details
  • Title: Rage
  • Web: Official Site
  • Developer: id Software
  • Publisher: Bethesda
  • Released: 7 October, 2011
  •  
  • Platforms: PC XBox 360 PS3
  • Reviewed On: PC

RAGE, the game PC gamers have been waiting for, the game that was supposed to raise the bar, the game by the legendary father of all FPS’s, the game of broken promises. Where to start, I don’t know. I guess the first thing I should point out is that I’m a PC gamer and as such, had high hopes for id’s next game, especially because these guys invented the FPS genre. The first sign of trouble for me was when Bethesda turned up, now I don’t know about anyone else, but I personally think Bethesda’s games suck on PC, straight out of the box. The always need modding simply because Bethesda always do a half-arsed release on the PC, they just don’t can’t be bothered to sort things out, important things too. Things like mouse smoothing and acceleration in the menus, it’s annoying as hell, yet they do it with every PC release, no matter how many times people complain and it’s always the first mod to appear. RAGE is no different and it’s the first thing that makes me regret paying them.

The architecture is imaginative and unique. Just a shame you can’t explore any of it.

So, onto RAGE, we’ll hit all the good points first, the gameplay. Granted I haven’t actually finished the game yet due to stupid bugs and constant crashing, but from what I’ve played I really enjoyed. The gun play is top-notch and when mixed with the superb animation of the characters, it’s brilliantly fun. Shooting a character in the leg causes them to drop to the floor and squirm, hilarious! Then you simply pop a bullet in their face, two or three times, because apparently shooting someone in the face doesn’t kill them instantly, bad design decision. But I can overlook this simply because the characters reactions to being shot are so damn amusing and realistic (except, obviously, face shots).

Look at him squirm! I shot him as he ran for cover, now he’s at my mercy! Mu ha ha!

The characters animation is truly brilliant, the way they move around the world, jumping over obstacles, it’s great and I didn’t notice them jerking, all of it was very fluid. The vehicle play is also excellent, it felt right using a keyboard for once, similar to Battlefield. I haven’t had the chance to actually do a race in it yet, as I’ve become stuck at a loading point that simply refuses to load (something extremely common if the forums are anything to go by), but I imagine they’re fun, though I could be wrong. Questing is supposed to be quite a big thing in RAGE, you find an NPC, hit E on him and a quest description window pops up, this is where things start getting aggravating. The mouse acceleration in the menus is truly infuriating, it’s like some sick mini game where you fight against the game to click the ‘accpet’ button, only to miss it and hit the decline button. I’m unsure as to how they program the mouse control within a game, but I’ve been told that they simply have to engage with the standard windows mouse driver and then they’re done. What they appear to do is program to totally separate mouse behaviours, one for the gun play (which is perfect) and one for the menus (that’s appalling). My question to anyone out there with the answer is ‘why?’ Why do something as stupid as that? Strange.

The annoying quest menu, with its annoying cursor. Don’t worry, the inventory is same, they wanted to share the pain.

So that’s it for the good points, unfortunately, and we didn’t even finish those without hitting a bad point. It’s a shame. Onto the graphics! The graphics of RAGE is something that has been getting hyped up for quite some time now, all this jabber about megatextures and such things. Well, the actual graphics are beyond disappointing, especially on the PC. All through the development, MR Carmack claimed that the consoles wouldn’t hold back the PC, yet all we have is a console port (there’s even a splash screen, what sort of PC game has a splash screen?). The textures are some of the worst I’ve seen in a long, long time. I’d say they’re on par with Half-Life 2, which I shall just remind everyone, came out in 2004, a whopping 7 years ago. Now, the theory behind the whole megatextures thing was to have unique textures on the land scape, so nothing repeating, ever. The only problem with that is that the textures get gigantic, it was reported that the uncompressed version on RAGE came to a staggering 120GB. RAGE was released at a tiny 21GB, so some seriously heavy compression was used on shrinking the textures down and you certainly can tell. I’ll just point out that the screenshots were taken with the settings maxed.

This is a major focal point during the first main mission. Unfortunately, I don’t want to look at it.

The whole argument that the textures don’t repeat is also null and void, as you can see the repeats in several locations. This is simply down to a lack of source materials, after all, if you use the same source images over and over again to create textures, they’re going to appear to repeat. This just makes me ask, why? Why bother with the mega textures? They’ve been released at such an appalling resolution that you really can’t tell if they’re unique. As I’ve said, the textures aren’t as clear and crisp as those found in Half-Life 2 (back in 2004). I’d rather see high quality repeating textures, than unique blurry messes, or to put it another way; I’d rather eat the same high quality food every day than eat ‘unique’ variations of animal feces.

This is a cracker, the actual texture goes from being crisp and clear into a blur. My assumption is that it was made this way as it doesn’t appear to be a graphical error.

Also, if you go and look at the advertisement images and videos, the ones labeled with ‘actual in-game footage’, you’ll notice that they’re a hell of a lot better than the rubbish that got shipped to us. id’s excuse for this (after blaming graphics card drivers and calling ATI and pretending they did everything they could) was that they couldn’t distribute such a large game. I call bull s**t.

Some parts can look stunning, but the majority of the game is plagued by the low res textures.

This excuse only applies to consoles, with are limited by their disc medium. PC are limitless, end of. They could have distributed the entire thing through download, though 120GB at the standard 2MB/s UK download speed would take at least 17 hours, factor in traffic management and you’re probably looking at about 4 days to download. I waited longer than that for Half-Life, Day of Defeat and Counter-strike to download way back in the day when Steam was just a little green baby. Also, they could have used their imagination a little, what’s wrong with flash memory? They’re cheap, companies give away 1 – 2 GB sticks at events, so why not use them seeing as the customer is paying the bill. They could have used more DVD’s to be fair. Maybe even made a separate pack that shipped with a P&P hard disk drive that had the sole purpose of installing the game. External Hard Drives can be picked up for less that £50 for 500GB, so imagine the discount a publisher would gain. No, instead of engaging their brains they simply went “repackage the 360 version”. They didn’t even bother shipping with adjustable graphics settings.

This one just keeps popping up. It’s repeated throughout the game and my God, it’s ugly as hell.

On the up side, the characters look superb, with the exception of their fingers being made up of about 5 polygons each. The textures for them are crisp, clear and very nicely styled. If only the entire game could look that way. Also, lighting, it’s a very important part of a game. It sets the atmosphere for a start and can make or break an entire level. RAGE’s lighting is completely static, like Half-Life 2’s (7 years ago), it’s baked into the level during the building process. It’s not necessarily a bad point, but it limits the level designers quite badly. It also means there isn’t a day/night cycle or whether variations (think STALKER).I’m still debating with myself over this point, so I guess I’m neutral, it’s not like a day/night cycle is needed, the game isn’t free-roam/sandbox (despite what the devs have been saying for the past year).

Characters look pretty darn sexy, except those fingers…

What else is missing? Something that’s been in games for a very long time, something that most people probably don’t even notice now? Oh yeah, physics! They’ve gone AWOL! Well, that’s not actually true. RAGE does have some physics, an example would be the various banners and flags in the levels. If you jump at them they respond and bounce off the player, but if you touch anything else in the level, well, it’s glued in place. It’s actually very distracting and detrimental to the gameplay. You’ll get into a massive gun fight, bullets flying everywhere, but nothing  moves. It breaks your immersion. In games like Counter-Strike:Source (2004) when you through a grenade and BOOM! Followed by bits of debris and general trash flying around the room, it just makes for a very satisfying and immersive game. I really can’t understand why flags have physics and nothing else does though. It’s odd, like the rest of the design decisions in this turkey of a game. Oh, there’s also multiplayer, but I haven’t tried it simply becuase I had a bad enough time getting the single player to work.

Update 13/10/11:

I was finally able to progress beyond the crashing point. I was finally able to race and I can now confirm my original thoughts were correct, it’s fun! Unfortunately it was all short lived as I once again cannot progress due to crashing (now no longer limited to the loading screens), also certain saves will no longer load, including checkpoints and quick saves. I’m honestly shocked that a company would actually release a product in such a state. id/Bethesda’s answer to all this? It’s still everyone else’s fault. Hmm.

Original Score: 6/10

Judgement
Pros:
  • Great gun-play, with some seriously brutal fire-fights.
  • interesting scenery that, on occasion, looks superb.
  • Driving is fun!
  • RPG elements are welcome, even if slightly under-developed.
  • Beautiful, fluid character animation.
Cons:
  • Bugs, everywhere.
  • No support from Dev or Publisher.
  • No physics on anything, except flags, which just looks weird.
  • Head shots don't count!?
  • Ridiculous mouse acceleration in menus.
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NaytoE
Web Master at CoupesCorner
Nathan is lumbered with all the technical stuff behind CoupesCorner. If stuff breaks, it's always someone else's fault, but he'll fix it, because he's a pretty awesome guy.

Nathan loves tactical shooters, RPG's and Bro-Ops games. Some all-time favourites of his are Black and White 2, Postal 2, the Rainbow Six series and Pokemon. He also loves playing guitar and fishing with his dad, when Lozzy isn't busy making him do stuff...
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