This came out on Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Mac, but I'll be playing the PC version on my beat up old rig. I've actually tried the game on my system once before when it first came out but I was kind of put off by the way it was a sluggish glitchy mess. But it's been a few years now so I'm hoping that all the patches and drivers updates since then have gotten it into shape. Shouldn't take long to find out.
(Click the pictures to view them at twice the resolution. That's FOUR TIMES the pixels!)
Amazingly back in 2011 the game came with even less graphics options. There was no texture detail option, no anisotropic filter option, and you couldn't even turn the v-sync off. It's possible that the game was designed to dynamically adapt and choose the settings that work best on each system automatically, but it ran like ass on my PC so that obviously didn't work. But let's max it all out for now and see how far I get with that.
"Your PC has an insufficient number of cores."
Well I guess I won't be maxing out the texture detail then. I always thought I had plenty of cores as well. I've got as many as an Xbox 360 at least and I bet it doesn't whine when you run it on that.
I should be careful what I say about it though as it's actually a real asteroid and it really is coming our way. Also I've heard that it may be named as much for the Stargate SG-1 villain as it is for the Egyptian god, which amuses me so much that I'm just going to go ahead and take that as an incontrovertible fact.
Oh don't worry, the real asteroid's likely going to miss us by 35 million miles.
Humanity had a few decades to prepare for this however and have built a number of tunnelling Arks: vehicles designed to dig below ground and wait for the worst of it to be over. Clearly they've taken a bit of inspiration from Noah here, but while his Ark was packed full of two of every animal he could find, these Arks contain a handful of nanite-enhanced survivors in cryonic stasis.
I have to admit, I had to watch the intro several times to get all that clear in my head as you have to watch carefully to make out every aspect of the plan. Luckily for me, id have ensured that I always get a chance to take in every subtle detail of their cutscenes, as they've made them all ENTIRELY UNSKIPPABLE.
106 YEARS LATER.
Oh hang on. No no, something is terribly wrong here. The computer panel... it doesn't have the awesome GUI surface tech that Doom 3 and Quake 4 used! I can't move my crosshair around like a mouse pointer and press the buttons, this is just awful.
I see now that there's nothing left for me in here, time to head outside into the bleak miserable wasteland.
Holy shit that looks pretty. Even on my ancient PC with the settings turned to 'pitiful' it still looks incredible, and not a glitch in sight! Though the textures do take a second to appear when I turn my head and it's running a little sluggish.
Hmm, I wonder what happens if I don't get in the buggy and try to make run for it instead...
RAGEguy' from now on. Plus I didn't exactly lose much progress, seeing as I quicksaved back at the buggy.
I'm glad to see that id are still carrying on the quicksave tradition by the way, seeing as they were the ones who popularised it in the first place.
My rescuer (played by John Goodman apparently, though I couldn't tell) explains that these bandits are causing trouble for everyone in the wasteland and they'll after me in particular because of my Ark suit. I wasn't really listening though because I was too distracted watching his little Doomguy bobblehead wobble around as he drove.
There's nothing wrong with the dialogue or acting, it's just that I got the point a few minutes back and now I'm eager to get on with things.
Wait, he wants me to murder the bandits? ALL the bandits? Just go up to their base and shoot the whole lot of them dead? He doesn't expect much does he? I don't even know anyone out here yet; for all I know he's a bandit and he's sending me out to kill innocent people.
Well he's given me a 12 shooter revolver, 40 bullets and a quad bike so I guess the least I can do to repay him is go back out there and see if anyone volunteers to be shot dead. Did I mention that he's given me a QUAD BIKE?
There ain't much wasteland for me to drive around on out here, it's not exactly Fallout 3, but they've kindly given me enough road to get this thing up to top speed at least. I'm going to hit the boost and aim for a ramp, see if I can catch some radical air.
Okay, Rageguy's scream when he falls off his quad bike is amazing. It was worth playing this just to hear that. Fortunately it takes more than a horrific bike accident to kill our hero, or even maim him, so I'm back on my feet and ready to raid this bandit base in seconds.
Wow, that gave me an instant frame rate improvement and now the game plays like a dream. Another victory for graphics options. Right then, now I'm ready to get into a fight.
Okay I'm ready, what do I have to press?
Seriously, what am I supposed to do, he's getting ready to disembowel me here!
And... he's just stabbed Rageguy to death. Wow, I guess it actually wasn't a QTE.
You'd imagine that a system like this would take away all the challenge in the game, but there is one slight catch to it: it takes bloody forever to charge up again after it's been used, during which Rageguy is entirely killable. It should save a bit of wear and tear on the quickload key at least.
It's a little early to say perhaps, but the combat seems fine. It's definitely a pure first person shooter at heart and the combat feels like a direct evolution of id's style. I can believe this is by the same people who made Doom 3, and not just because I'm only fighting two or three people in each area at a time.
Some enemies charge at me, jumping and rolling around to avoid my aim, while others get their heads down behind the furniture, but they're all easy enough to see (in motion anyway), and they actually react to having bullets put into them, which always helps. It takes a few more bullets than I'd like to put them down though, even when I sneak up behind them and shoot them right in the head, but I'm sure that's something I'll learn to come to terms with in time.
LATER, BACK AT JOHN GOODMAN'S GARAGE.
This is the shop screen. Here I sell trash for money, then spend money on gear! There's no need to worry about comparing weapon stats here, as it seems that every weapon is unique and useful to me in a different way. I'm not replacing my guns, I'm building up a tool set of weapons, just like in every other id first person shooter.
15 seconds of extreme biking later and I was stuck listening to someone else at the other settlement drone on... before I was allowed through to listen to this character drone on. I'm all for storytelling and interesting characters, but these are just long unskippable mission briefings and all they're doing is testing my patience.
I get all the info in my journal afterwards so I really could just leave my computer, go out for a walk, come back when it's finished, and miss out on nothing.
By the way I can't visit any of this scenery, it's all just a pretty background. The actual level I get to play through is a straightforward linear series of connected rooms, just like any other typical first person shooter.
SOME TIME LATER.
Oh I started another job by the way. This time I'm here to get some vehicle parts from a gang, by shooting them all dead. Every quest in this is about shooting them all dead.
Also not once in a level have I ever been shouted at to go somewhere, ordered to shoot someone, or punished for hanging around and exploring. Much the opposite in fact; there's plenty of stuff around to see or grab. In fact I could really use an in-game map to help me get my bearings back after I've gone wandering. I've got my radar mini-map out in the wasteland, but it disappears when I'm indoors.
Well it appears that I've drawn too much attention at this mission hub so for the safety of myself and others I'll have to move on to the town of Wellspring. Maybe there I'll find what I've been looking for all this time: a storyline.
Every since Rageguy woke up and climbed out of his Ark he's been doing nothing but short sidequests for people, with no apparent goals of his own and no ongoing plot around for him to jump into. Which just makes it all the more annoying when people take forever to tell me what they want me to do.
ONE SHORT TRIP DOWN A DIRT ROAD TO THE BOTTOM RIGHT CORNER OF THE OVERWORLD LATER.
Fallout 3, but as far as post apocalyptic junk towns go, I think Wellspring has Megaton beat.
|Fallout 3 (PC)|
I'd comment on how crappy everything looks from up close, but I do have the graphics set to low here. I presume the game can look much prettier than this if you've got more horsepower under the hood. Though I honestly don't care much either way, as it's rare that I have reason to shove my face right up to anything like this.
I won 20 futurebucks on it then decided to walk away. I need my cash for ammo, as enemies tend to be bullet sponges in this and searching their bodies only gets me so much back.
No, I need racing credits. From winning races.
The FPS to racing ratio is heavily weighted in the FPS levels' favour, but I still have to complete a number of these racing levels to progress through the string of side quests the game has in place of a storyline. Which is fine for me, I like racing games, but I can see how it might annoy people.
I mean imagine if your survival horror was suddenly interrupted with a tennis match you had to win to continue the game, it'd be a bit annoying wouldn't it?
I won't bore you with the rules; it's a card game based around attack and health scores and I always lose at it because I'm absolutely terrible at these kinds of things. But it's a little extra content you don't often find in your typical first person shooter.
SEVERAL MISSIONS LATER.
The game may be a first person shooter at its core, but the metaphorical RPG flavoured icing on top does present me with some genuine choices every now and again; even if it's just what order I play the levels in.
FAR NORTH ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OVERWORLD.
Oh, it turns out I have to travel to a hospital right in the heart of the Dead City, now home to unspeakable mutated evil. Well thank fuck for that, I finally get to visit a city! I thought I'd be stuck out here in the wasteland for the whole game. I just hope I don't have to go through a bloody subway station to get inside it like in Fallout 3. That game really knew how to suck all of the joy out of the apocalypse sometimes.
It's so much more fun than Rogue Trip 2012 and 007 Racing!
Though I still keep instinctively opening up the menu to look for a map that isn't there. I'd sacrifice any number of dice and card minigames if it meant that id had the resources spare during development to implement a map screen.
Well, except for the loud stomping noise coming from outside, knocking dust down from the ceiling with every step. That's kind of... foreboding.
This guy is a mutant by the way and I've been fighting his smaller brothers occasionally along the way. They're a lot like regular enemies, except they dissolve into goo on death instead of leaving a body for me to loot. The inconsiderate bastards.
FURTHER INSIDE THE CITY LEVEL.
And now I've ended up locked in a room with them jumping in through gaps until I've killed enough to get out. Like Doom 3 the game loves to catch me off guard by spawning new enemies, though it's never unfair about it; new threats generally spring out from in front of me.
Plus I picked up a secret weapon earlier...
I've been using them as a finishing move, sending one over after a spray of machine gun fire to finalise the arrangements, and somehow this isn't getting old yet.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE CITY.
Well he's covered in glowing weak points and I've just found a rocket launcher, so I let you imagine how the fight played out.
Okay the real boss is dead and I've collected my upgraded defibrillator, so now I can go get it installed and carry on looking for a storyline. What was I up to anyway? Oh right, looking for a sponsor so I could get into another car race so I can win a vehicle badass enough to travel past the gangs patrolling outside the Dead City... which I travelled past to get here.
Alright, so now I have to survive a televised deathmatch against a horde of mutants to get this guy to sponsor me in a big race so that I can win a new car that's tough enough to... drive to a place I've already been to.
You want to know what's really dumb? It's only a delivery job! I have to become a television and grand prix superstar just to move some boxes a half mile up north!
MUCH MUCH MUCH LATER.
I haven't been cut off from the old areas though, the whole map is still available to me.
The closest I've come to the RPG-style elements having any influence on the combat are these weapon and armour upgrades I can get in the shops now. Things like a laser sight for my rifle, a shotgun magazine conversion, a recoil supressor for my AK, and lots and lots of alternate ammo types.
Maybe I want to fire rockets from my shotgun, or EMP rounds, or perhaps a mind control dart... if I've got the money or the crafting materials, I've got all kinds of options.
I think it's fitting that my post just kind of ends after dragging on too long and without much closure to anything, as that's exactly how Rage plays out. It's like a game built entirely from side quests, with the developers deciding to cap the last of them off with a CGI cutscene and call it the main plot. The tale of the Resistance fighting against the oppressive Authority starts to take the focus in the second half in the game, becoming the closest thing the game has to an ongoing storyline, but it's hard to have a satisfying resolution when they've set nothing up to resolve.
If I may indulge in a metaphor that relies on you having detailed knowledge of an old sci-fi movie from the 70s, the game is kind of like Star Wars... except without Darth Vader, Peter Cushing, Star Destroyers, the Death Star, Uncle Owen, Aunt Beru, Han Solo, or the droids, and our hero Luke Skywalker spends the first three quarters of the film doing various unconnected jobs for people so he can get a new speeder, go to Tosche Station, and pick up some power converters. Not because he wants to mind you, he's just asked to get hold of them at some point in a long one sided conversation that he's not paying attention to. Also there's pod racing in there too.
The only reason that this underwhelming story even matters though, is because the game forces you to pay attention to it. You can't skip dialogue at all, not even the bloody shopkeeper dialogue you get every time you arrive at a shop, and the only possible responses to these monologues is 'accept' or 'decline'. A good game lets players skip though all the expensive CGI and voice acting, because a good game is written by people confident that if they've done their jobs right players won't WANT to.
But anyway, enough about the story already, what about the gameplay? Well for the most part it's a straightforward first person shooter descended from Quake II and Doom 3, with an old school approach to how many weapons you can carry at once (ie. all of them) and a new school approach to regenerating health. The guns are fun to shoot and the enemies are fun to shoot with them, plus there's other stuff to throw at them while you're doing it! Once I got my head around the fact that I would have to put several rounds into an enemy to put them down I found myself embracing all the ways I could do that and enjoying the hell out of the game for what it is.
Hey look I gave another high grade to a first person shooter, you think I might be a little biased towards the genre there perhaps? You can discuss this controversy, the game, my site and many other interesting and relevant things in the comments below!