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A Truly Unreal Engine- Rage Review

Call of Duty 2’s release amidst the Xbox 360’s launch lineup was a harbinger of hope for first-person shooter purists. Sporting an impressive draw distance and a habitually solid sixty-frame per second output, the title suggested that future entries in the FPS genre might exhibit a similar level of technical performance. With recent triple-A titles such as Halo: Reach, Killzone 3, Resistance 3, and Crysis 2 suffering from uneven refresh rates and even sporadic breaks in the action, PC envy is becoming an emerging epidemic, as the polygon pushing ability of graphic cards are outperforming the capabilities of the 360 and PS3.

Leave it to the wizards at id software to quell any influx of invidia (or perhaps, nvidia). With a development period spanning six years, Carmack and company’s Rage can be a technological feat, delivering a rock-solid, impeccably sinuous framerate and draw distance which easily outperforms its console peers. However, the title’s highest level of performance isn’t without consequence – requiring two DVDs to be installed onto the 360’s hard drive to eradicate any trace of texture pop-in. Once the lengthier read times of the optical drive are circumvented, Rage is pure visual spectacle, flaunting sumptuously rendered vehicles, landscapes and characters. Even the game’s weapons models are drawn with enough duteous detail to earn a centerfold spot in Guns and Ammo.

Skillfully, the title’s visual proficiency transcends jaw-dropping vistas and an unshakable refresh rate. Rage’s animations are also top notch- with many foes moving about in pleasingly unpredictable ways. Enemies will scamper along the ground, summersault, and even launch themselves from environmental objects, making combat consistently unsettling. When injured, adversaries react realistically- persistently limping after a leg wound or even contorting their mangled body for one last-ditch attempt on the player’s life. Shrewd AI routines help solidify the intensity of firefights, with opponents reacting quite differently to players who prefer to take calculated shots from cover point, or those who favor an relentless assault. Although the game’s hit detection is usually pixel-perfect, firing through gaps in cover can be hit or miss.

As a catalyst for the ballistic barrages, Rage supplies players with a healthy arsenal of mayhem-makers. While the setting may be in the next century, the game’s plotline of an enormous asteroid crashing into the earth means technological progress has atrophied. As such, a majority of firearms, weapons, and vehicles are all crafted from salvaged material, giving players a suitable impetus for the title’s procession of fetch quests, ambushes, and side missions. With multiple ammo types as well as the ability to craft helpful items ranging to healing bandages to sentry turrets, the title presents a wide variety of ways to subdue the game’s human and mutant populations. Arguably, one of the most gratifying weapons is the wingstick- a boomerang-like device that can decapitate a foe before returning to your inventory.

Complementing Rage’s visceral shootout sequences is a capable driving model. Beyond dashing across bandit-infested deserts which link the game’s three hubbed hamlets, there’s also a healthy amount of racing to engage players. With opportunities for time trials, nonviolent lap-based affairs, and weapon-based competitions, there’s no shortage of ways to earn upgrade tickets capable of augmenting a player’s buggies and ATVs. However, with players given infinite instant respawns and the ability to absorb power-ups strewn about the track, combat races can feel incongruous with Rage’s otherwise convincing activities. Despite this fissure in the title’s continuity, racing is undeniably satisfying, with a just enough control nuance and physicality to offer a refreshing reprieve from gun fights. Along with two-player co-op section culled from the main game, Rage also offers multiplayer racing events on the game’s third disk. While the vehicular combat probably won’t put a dent into Twisted Metal’s sales figure, it is a pleasing, if transitory supplement that most companies would probably charge for. Kudos to id for keeping it as a free pack-in.

Like any ambitious title, Rage isn’t free of the irregular blemish. From the unforeseen insta-death at the hands of an RPG-armed militant to a lack of closure in the game’s coda, there’s certain to be a constituency who will vocalize the title’s negligible faults. Yet, players who allow themselves to become immersed in Rage’s foreboding environments and tense firefights are destined to be delighted by one of the year’s most gratifying first and third-person experiences.

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

32 comments

  1. Wow, great review. pretty different from the ones I’ve read so far.

  2. Edward Penishands

    Ok so your saying id Tech 5>Unreal Engine?

    If so, you’re freaking crazy.

  3. I’m not the biggest fan of FPS’s (as my handle would indicate) but I got to play this for a about 4 hours.

    WOW

    Yeah- it really does look that amazing. I doubt another game will top it graphically this year.

  4. Wait you hated on Gears or War 3 but like this? Is Rage really that much better?

  5. Wait you hated on Gears or War 3 but like this? Is Rage really that much better?

    • I don’t think he ‘hated on it’, just said it was a bit too simple and didn’t like shooting guys 20-30 times.

      I can agree.

  6. I have never seen Killzone 3 lose any frames or chug at all. stop lying.

    • Wow, have you even played it? In the opening section, the game just stops, I mean stop dead freaking frozen for 6 seconds as it loading.

      When you playing it frames are dropped all over the place. If you didn’t notice them, I might suggest going to an eye doctor. (that is if you read this)

  7. I’ll admit I was sucked in my the graphics. But the gameplay is really good and kept me going through the 10 hour or so campaign.

    Don’t forget, Id invented the FPS.

  8. Deagle, I’m with you on the framewhore bandwagon. It’s the reason CoD is so popular.

    I buy, rent or at least demo every FPS that comes out and nothing drives me crazy like a crappy framerate. Halo Reach’s single player campaign for all the hype was pretty bad. I know alot of other people feel the same way (Garnett Lee has compainted about a few time).

    I’d much rather have a fast framerate that great textures. I wish they’d let console owners have access to a slider like in PC games.

    • Yeah, I’m big on framerate too. Every console I buy I think framerates are going to get better. You know how the story goes.

  9. Good review and good job setting the record straight. Those 3/5 star and 70% reviews are crazy, especially if they are from the people that have given other shooters (ahem Gears of War 3) an A grade.

  10. Sad thing here.

    As the site is growing. (I see T-G mentioned more) more d-bags are coming. Part of me wishes you guys would stay small.

  11. “Kudos to id for keeping it as a free pack-in.”

    This ^^^^^

  12. One of the better reviews out there. Good work.

  13. Bonus point for using the word “coda” in a sentence and not sounding like a douch….wait, you did.

  14. I’m trying to wait for BF3, but with this, the wait is getting harder. Maybe someone will have a B1G1 free sale soon.

  15. Did you play the PS3 version at all? How does it compare (with and without) the install.

  16. Whats the shoot to drive ratio? I want to play mercenary/heo, not school bus driver.

  17. I bought it last week, and for me it’s pretty good, but I could see how some people would really like it. I’m just more of a MP guy.

  18. I saw this at Red Box. So you get all three disks when you rent it?

  19. I heard there’s some RPG parts that make it feel a bit like Fallout. What are these?

  20. Too bad the PC version wasn’t quite ready at launch.

  21. Deagle, since youre a driving guy, how is the physics model for racing.

  22. What? A FPS that the Deagle likes? Welcome back, my friend. Welcome back.

  23. Thanks for this article. It’s just what I was searching for. I am always interested in this subject. Will bookmark it.