Review – RAGE 2
When RAGE 2 first got announced, my colleagues at WayTooManyGames started bantering about how the game looked like the typical “Leo game”. It looked like a dumb, loud, unapologetic, and incredibly over-the-top title, just the way I like it. The folks at Bethesda even hired one of my favorite musicians, Andrew W.K., whose music can easily fit in with the description I just mentioned, to play at their 2018 E3 conference, as well as voice a character in the game. Suffice to say, I was really looking forward to RAGE 2 and after finally getting my hands on a copy, I can affirm that it was worth the wait, although it does have a few design choices I ended up disliking.
Right after the game started, I was feeling… underwhelmed. Yep, RAGE 2 doesn’t start off with a bang. You’re forced to play a small (and liner) tutorial level without any powers, just killing a few mutated baddies while being exposed to a ton of uninteresting backstory. That’s the thing I disliked the most about RAGE 2: anything related to its plot. It’s not terrible, but it’s something you’ve seen a few times before with different coats of paint. It tries to take itself too seriously and it fails at doing so, something I like to call “the Far Cry 4 syndrome”. More on that later. The moment this mission ends and you acquire your superpowered suit of armor, you’re given a car and you’re allowed to freely explore RAGE 2‘s open world. In the words of Anakin Skywalker, “this is where the fun begins”.
It’s amazing how different RAGE 2 feels when you’re not bound to its dull story. It is extremely fun to mess around in its vast open world due to a handful of reasons. First of all, its gameplay is fantastic. The combat mechanics are sublime, with a vast array of satisfying weapons to wield, tons of superpowers to acquire and upgrade, an overall fast-paced aiming and reloading system, as well as tons of explosions onscreen, aiding in the game’s overall visual spectacle. The vehicular controls are equally great: the cars all control as well as your average racing simulator, with the added bonus of featuring machine guns and rocket launchers, the majority of which feature lock-on mechanics to quickly turn RAGE 2 into your own personal interactive version of Mad Max: Fury Road.
The vast majority of the sidequests revolve around destroying property or killing tons of enemies. In any other game, I’d have complained about that, but in RAGE 2‘s case, that’s a very strong point to its favor due to the aforementioned excellent combat mechanics. You’re actively looking for trouble, looking for stuff to blow up, as well as enemies to turn into red jelly. You are an overpowered one-man (or woman) army against hordes of mutants and insane goons, and that feels amazing. The game even rewards your insanity by recovering your health whenever you activate your Overdrive mode, encouraging you to go berserk as frequently as possible. You always feel like that blind dude with the machine guns from Fury Road.
The remaining sidequests either feature new superpowers to acquire or upgrade tokens to collect. I liked that the game allowed for me to increase my arsenal of superpowers on my own, without the need of progressing through the dull story in order to acquire (most of) them. I only went back to the main story every now and then just to unlock a few more skill trees in order to pimp my ranger suit to even more ridiculous levels.
I also loved how there isn’t an emphasis on “freeing outposts” or complete side objectives for the sake of it, just like tons of other open world games out there. The entire map is visible from the start, and while not all icons show up on the map right from the get-go, you can easily buy information from intel brokers in any given outpost if you’re not in the mood of exploring the wasteland like a blind dog. To sum things up, RAGE 2 is a very entertaining sandbox. Too bad that it takes itself too seriously.
I mentioned that the game suffers from “Far Cry 4 syndrome”. Both games share the same issue: they’re dumb titles that, instead of celebrating their own stupidity by being as loud and unapologetic as possible, they try to provide players with an unnecessarily serious main story that goes against the entire mayhem-friendly focus of the gameplay. They also suffer from having unlikable and/or unremarkable characters, from the protagonist to the villain.
I expected the game to be a video game version of Andrew W.K.’s “I Get Wet” album, just like its marketing campaign made it look like. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. I feel like the marketing team actually knew the game better than the developers themselves, as the game would have turned out to be a masterpiece if it had a less serious plot, more humorous moments, as well as a heavier, more mosh pit-inducing soundtrack, instead of its decent, but unremarkable score. I was really expecting for Andrew to have a bigger contribution in the game itself other than a cameo role.
With that being said, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my time with RAGE 2. On the contrary, I had tons of fun with it by exploring a vast wasteland and murdering every single living creature that crossed paths with me. RAGE 2‘s fantastic controls and entertaining sandbox gameplay more than make up for its mediocre storyline and small amount of technical issues. This is a very entertaining open world shooter that, despite taking itself too seriously, is still well worth your time especially if you, like me, enjoy wreaking havoc in a video game just for the sake of it.
The wasteland looks gorgeous, with tons of colors and excellent lighting effects. The framerate is also pretty solid, even if it’s locked at 30fps. The same can’t be said about the character models, as they look dated and feature janky animations.
The combat mechanics are amazing. Every single weapon packs one hell of a punch and killing enemies feels extremely satisfying. Since almost all sidequests revolve around killing and destroying, exploring the overworld becomes less of a chore and more of a fun pastime.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the soundtrack, but I can’t help but feel like an upbeat metal soundtrack would have been the ideal score for a game like RAGE 2.
Fun Factor: 7.5
If it wasn’t for the mediocre central plot, RAGE 2 would have been a masterpiece, given how fun it is to wreak havoc throughout the wasteland.
Final Verdict: 8.0
RAGE 2 is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
A copy of RAGE 2 was provided by the publisher.