by Chris Davis
reviewed on PC
Quaking in Your Boots
When I was six years old I remember sitting on my dad’s lap at his 486 computer watching him play Wolfenstein 3D. For me, id Software has always been a unique studio that doesn’t so much adapt to the times as it forges its own interpretation of what they feel a good game is. Say the names Wolfenstein, Doom or Quake in a crowded room of gamers and you’ll have a hard time finding someone that hasn’t played or at the very least knows about these amazing franchises. After Doom 3 was released in 2004 id all but disappeared from the development scene, really only appearing at their annual QuakeCon convention in Dallas, TX while letting developer Raven Software continue the Quake and Wolfenstein franchises. Raven’s continuations didn’t capture the magic id Software can bring to a game however. As such, desperate fans like myself were left waiting in the wind.
Rage, id’s first new IP since they introduced Quake in 1996, is something of an event for me. In addition to being the first time anyone will have been able to play a core id Software game in seven years it is also my first opportunity to review an id title since I started writing about games. After seven years though one must ask: is the magic still there?
Welcome to the Wasteland
Many have the justified fear that the end of the world will come from above in the form of an asteroid that will bathe our planet in fire. 99942 Apophis, an asteroid that’s 270m in diameter will pass by Earth in 2029 and 2036 and presents as a level 1 threat on the Torino impact hazard scale. In the world of Rage however, the threat is far greater as it is the size of Manhattan. Five years prior to its 2029 impact date the international community rallies together for the Eden Project, a program designed to ensure the survival of our species beyond the collision. Arks, underground containers designed to house the best and brightest amongst us, are constructed all over the world and while thousands are built, it isn’t enough. As the asteroid hurtles past the moon the Ark program initiates and you, the player, are sent into cold sleep.
You awaken with a start to a ghastly sight. Over a hundred years have passed and everyone but you who were placed in your Ark is dead. Stumbling outside, you are besieged by a group of bandits only to be saved at the last minute by Dan Hagar, a man who lives nearby and has gotten along by staying out of trouble. Saving your life has changed this though and as you drive off with him toward his settlement one thing is clear: the rules of the old world are gone and you must do more than live to get along. You must survive.
Rage’s post-apocalyptic story is about your journey to find your place in the Wasteland. Ark survivors are a rare order to find and as one you have the skills and know-how to make the Wasteland a safer place. The ultimate threat to the safety of the remaining human population is not the clans of bandits or the mutant hordes that have arisen since the fall of Apophis. Rather, the prime threat is actually the Authority; an advanced military body that thrives on pre-impact technologies and since you happen to be an Ark survivor they want you bad.
The Rage singleplayer experience is one that will draw many comparisons to another post-apocalyptic game series: Fallout. While the two share many traits in both story and gameplay, Rage is an entirely different affair as it is a directed narrative instead of a non-linear one like Bethesda’s juggernaut title from 2008. Rage does allow you to explore the Wasteland as long as you see fit but only by completing quests does the plot advance and allow you into sections of the map you couldn’t access before. While some may lament the lack of being able to go anywhere and do anything, id is able to deliver a stronger story than can be told through a game like Fallout. Fans of Bethesda’s wonder-series should be pleasantly surprised by id’s offering.
Rage’s campaign, despite being a directed experience, is still quite long; offering in excess of twenty hours of gameplay in a single playthrough. While the overall experience in the singleplayer is quite entertaining you will find that the ending is a disappointing affair that feels like it was cut halfway through development. Perhaps this is a sign that id has decided to capitalize on the success of the post-release DLC that made Fallout 3 and Fallout New Vegas so successful but, as it stands, you’ll be left wanting more.
Excellent singleplayer campaign
Multiplayer is lacking