GOOOD MORNING WELLSPRING!
I was rather fond of the first Rage game. Yes, it was generic at best, but it had its own flavour from id Software. Post-apocalyptic open world with somewhat colourful characters, you could deem it as a Serious Borderlands. Well, it was in 2010.
Now, Rage 2 is here with a bag of new tricks and treats. However, just like a candy hunting spree, the general story is short, but luckily the game makes up for it in very fun ways.
TIME TO RAGE! AND IT’S OVER.
The story itself is short, like very short, it only took me long to finish because I was too busy painting the gravel roads red with goons as my paint, and the front end of my Phoenix as the brush. I did do a few side quests because I just happen to be in the neighbourhood, so figured why not?
When I did put in the time to progress the story, nothing really big or bold happens, it just kind of turns into a shooting gallery, but what a fun shooting gallery. It’s basically “drive to this place and find that”, “run there and shoot until everything is dead” or “locate the deadbeat wanna-be rangers and report back” type missions and side quests. You can also count in the hunt for storage containers and Ark containers as a mini side quest. Yes, they are rather unique, one of them having a bright pink lid, but they are really well hidden, sometimes in plain sight that grants the infamous “facepalm”.
The story itself begins 30 years after the first game, some development happened and things looked moderately well. Then the Authority attacked, things go pear shape rather quick and it is time to jump in. After a quick “Hi, How Do You Do?” you are in the action, and meeting the mechanized nuggets from hell.
After disposing of your foes as the last Ranger, and taken through the basics, you are set on a task to destroy The Authority. It is then where the focus is set on, around the 3 individuals holding the key to completing your mission. General Cross is still around and this time he isn’t just a piece of info on a fact sheet. His introduction at the start is rather scary in that post-apocalyptic sense.
Your missions are paced like an open world game, you choose when you want to take them, leaving you free to go about your business, mainly taking out goon camps more than I did my ex. So on that alone, I decided to do just that, play around a bit and explore. The world around you is really nice to look at, even if it is a wasteland. There is not a single or night time minute that goes by where the game doesn’t look amazing. Night time is especially great looking with all forms of light standing out, even at a distance. Also, the route marker is also easier to see as I have overshot my turn far too often.
There are bucket loads of side quests, but most boil down to shoot until everything looks like strawberry-jam covered retail mannequins. From mutant nests, bandit camps and The Immortal Shroud convoys, there is enough to go around.
That being said, even if I were to mainly focus on the story part alone, I would have finished it really quick, like a lukewarm Cornish Pastry during a lunch break, hence why I starting stretching out the game mid-way through collecting the needed currency for my upgrades.
I AIN’T NO POWER RANGER
You are Walker, the new and last Ranger after the events of The Authority attack. You can choose either a male or female character, no cosmetic options what so ever, a no brainer really, and then the game begins.
So after starting with a pair of running flip-flops and a pea-shooter, you soon get upgraded to power armour and a gun that shoots actual bullets. I would assume my gleeful smile was a good indication that this was going to be fun.
Being a Ranger grants you special weapons and abilities, all of which is obtained from finding Arks and claiming the reward inside. Whether it’s a new weapon or ability, you are given a short tutorial to get a feel for it, after that you are free to go. Personally, I feel like this breaks pacing somewhat. I am thrown into a firefight right after the tutorial anyway, so why spoil the surprise of a new weapon or ability on stationary targets instead of a goon/mutant practically yelling “PICK ME!”? It is not game breaking, but something I could have done without.
However, these interruptions are not just limited to a short tutorial, there are notifications for showing and making sure you know of your reward after taking out a convoy, century turret or a mutant nest, taking you from 100mph to 0mph…Why!?
Let’s talk weapons. Rage 2’s gunplay is incredibly solid with some Doom 2016 DNA mixed in, and it works really well. Pulling off headshots feels satisfying every time you hear the popping sound of a projectile creating a new breathing-hole in some poor sap’s head.
Most of the weapons have a secondary function. For example, the Shotgun, when aimed down the sights, ready’s up a slug to knock back or kill an enemy. The Rocket Launcher has multiple lock-on mini rockets, great for crowds.
I relied mainly on my Assault Rifle and Shotgun for answering general queries, and the other weapons do have their uses depending on the situation, but generally won’t be used as much, other than for literally sheer bloody fun, especially after you get at least 2 Ranger Abilities.
TIME FOR SOME REAL FUN.
There are four Ranger abilities. Shatter, Slam, Barrier and Vortex. Combine these super-hero like powers with your other passive ones, a decent amount of mindless fun goes a long way.
Shatter is great for knocking back enemies, with a chance of curing the odd headache permanently.
Slam is my favourite as I always try and get the enemies to be directly underneath my punch, creating a scene that generally can be described as “imagine shattering a jar of Strawberry Jam with a sledgehammer.”
Barrier provides portable cover when there is none around
Vortex creates a small black hole pulling enemies towards itself, opening further experimentation options as it doubles as a launch pad for you to deliver action movie style Slams.
PIMP MY RANGER.
Each ability can be upgraded, even though the way going about it is a bit strange. You use Feltrite to unlock the next upgrades level and then upgrade the ability with a different currency. The only vehicle that can be upgraded is the Phoenix, and it is mainly the weapons and durability. I don’t have a particular issue with the menu, it is just a bit laggy, so I tried to stay out of it as much as possible by doing bulk upgrading.
Overdrive is your go-to ability when the action is getting just a bit too hot. The ability recharges quick depending on quick you can increase your multiplier during gunfights. I have gotten away with 5 recharges during an eviction notice delivery at a bandit camp. It works really well when you need to get out of a tight spot fast by boosting your health, weapon damage, movement speed and activates the secondary of most weapons while firing from the hip.
The sound design is pretty decent most of the time with the occasional missing audio clip here and there. Vehicles, weapons, explosions etc. all sound are meaty and provide impact, and with audio queues from subtle, like the twitch that tells you an ability is ready or pumping industrial metal when battling a convoy, you are always aware of what is around you.
With the addition of the racing segment knows as Chazcar Derby, this adds a flavour and the game, like mixing two flavours of instant noodles together, Chicken and Cheese or Thai Chili and Prawn. You won’t get many tastes from either but it goes down pretty nice.
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA
I am happy they added a camera feature to the game, I love to take photos in-game, gives some creative freedom for my inner paparazzi. There are also themed frames to make your photos playful and camera settings to fine-tune your shots. The best setting of Photo Mode is to change the time of day, so you don’t have to wait for the right time to get the shot you want.
IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN…UH VERDICT!
Rage 2 carries the formula of Doom of fast-moving action to stay alive while avoiding goons that lob grenades like a confetti-dispenser but gets bogged down by its action pieces by being too brief, even though you are never too far from the next group of mutants begging to be your next hood-ornament.
The graphics are stunning, albeit a bit low textured when viewing things up-close, but then again, Rage 2 is not the Slow Down and Smell the Flowers type game either, so chaotic art in a sense.
As stated blindingly obvious from the start, the game does what it does well, but falls short in terms of story and general action. Luckily, the in-game difficulty setting leaves the door open for either just casual fun or a serious workout for the senses. Nightmare difficulty is quite the rush and makes you work for survival during a firefight.
The platter of goodies Rage 2 offers is enough to say you had a good time, whether it was for 10 minutes or 2 hours.