The brilliant minds of Avalanche who made the massively underrated Mad Max (2015) and iD Software, plus the people behind the superb DOOM (2016) teaming up to make an open world first person shooter sounds amazing! But that’s just it, it sounds amazing; but in practice not so much.
Considering Avalanche’s involvement, I was very excited to see the exquisite vehicle controls and combat that we’d seen in Mad Max 4 years prior. Unfortunately it isn’t here, the vehicles just aren’t enjoyable, combat is meh, not bad but certainly not as exciting as Mad Max’s. The motorbikes slide around and feel very loose to control, dune buggy/cars feel heavy and clunky to drive. The only vehicle I enjoyed driving was “Icarus” and that’s because it flies! No longer was I forced to fight to drive in a straight line or to take a corner well. Traversing the big, lifeless world felt boring in Rage 2, compare that to Red Dead Redemption 2, or even Spider-Man where the traversal is sometimes just as fun as the missions you’re heading towards. Put it this way, you won’t find me taking the car for a spin in Rage 2, it can stay in the garage faaaar away from me.
But let’s go back to the good, by God is the shooting perfect! iD have really outdone themselves this time around, everything feels right and the connection of bullets feels visceral. Every (on foot) combat encounter feels extravagant, it really is quite ‘extra’. Utilising “Nanotrites” Rage 2 gives the player super powers and they are very useful. The way you mix abilities up in Rage 2 feels like a well choreographed dance, every melee attack has a satisfying crunch, each bullet flies with violence and grace. Mixing that visceral and supreme combat with the colours and graphics of the game really flexes what iD are capable of.
Wow, what a gorgeous game. I played on the Xbox One X which performs at 1080p 60fps. Now it isn’t the 4k HDR romp that everyone gets their kicks from nowadays, but it really doesn’t matter. Avalanche & iD really use the colours well here, combat has mixes of red, yellow and oranges for larger-than-life explosions plus the iconic white and pink of the box art. Everything mixes into a genuine work of art. When you aren’t blowing stuff up and decapitating people with Wingsticks (the best weapon any game has, don’t @ me) graphically the game still holds up well, character models are high Res and detailed, textures never seem muddy or low poly, the Apex engine is flexing in spades.
The Story (Or Lack Thereof)
Honestly, was there even an effort here is my question. I don’t want to be overly harsh, tons of people put countless hours into what I would still describe as a good game. But dear god, it took me 7 hours to finish the story and I didn’t even focus on the story missions at all! The open world formulae is fully present here: go overtake this camp of bandits, go collect these collectibles, the main pull of the game is the mechanics and I get that, I was hyped for the shooting not the story. But it amazes me that it took me longer to complete Rage 1’s story when it’s an extremely linear game.
I’m currently debating with myself if I enjoyed Rage 1 more than Rage 2, I’m honestly unsure at the moment but I’m very much leaning towards 1. It’s truly a pity, the characters on display could actually have some interesting stories, fleshing them out is something I would’ve loved to see. I’m not expecting a 30 hours super intense campaign, But 7 hours is just inconceivable in this generation. The story wasn’t interesting, the stakes were never really intense, it was just so easily shrugged of. The best way to describe it really is:
Rage 2 is a good game, but it isn’t an experience. In a world where we consider video games art, I can’t say Rage 2 is art. Maybe BTEC Art, the paint strokes are there, in the combat and graphics, but there’s just the rest of the integral parts missing. Considering it’s £5 less than Days Gone, you’re getting way less than £5’s value in this. I sincerely hope that the DLC’s that come Rage 2’s way have some at least half enjoyable story telling, other wise I’ll certainly have #SomeRAGEgrets with buying the Deluxe edition (but that Wingstick really is dope as hell).