Id Software released Rage way back in 2010 and while reception to the game was mixed at best, a sequel, nine years later, has just been released that seeks to right the wrongs of the past. With that said, Rage 2 ultimately falls into the same trap that many open-world games do.
In collaboration with Avalanche Studios and Bethesda, Id Software’s Rage 2 is however a colourful, cyberpunk, post apocalyptic action-fest. Is Rage 2 worth your while though?
Control your Rage
In Rage 2, players will take on the role of Lieutenant Walker, a young survivor in a military-esque camp known as Vineland. Vineland gets attacked right off the bat and a Ranger dies to a beastly abomination.
Your character eventually defeats the beast and loots the Ranger’s body for his body-armour suit. Ranger armour is locked to specific pure-blooded humans though and true to clichéd writing form, your character happens to be one. “Go go Power Rangers” we guess?
Having donned the Ranger suit, and surviving the attack on Vineland, players will soon discover that their adoptive mother has tasked them with bringing down the bad guys known as The Authority.
General Cross and his mutant robot army are out to cleanse the world and reshape it while killing everyone else in the process. It’s therefore up to you to stop him. No pressure, down with The Authority!
With the basic premise of the story set up within the first 30 minutes of the game, Rage trickle feeds you information through character interactions and missions. Soon enough you’ll be able to make use of an ability known as “Focus”.
With focus, you’ll be able to explode barrels, harvest a mineral known as “Feltrite” and obliterate enemies with blasts of energy fired from the palm of your hand. Focus is your superpower of sorts and the Ranger suit makes it accessible to you.
With the Ranger suit and Focus under your control, Rage 2 introduces the concept of Nanotrites and lost Arks. Arks are storage containers dropped from orbit that contain Ranger tech that you can use.
Finding these Arks are therefore essential to progressing through Rage 2 but it’s not necessary to go out of your way to locate every single one of them. Looting Arks does however significantly increase your combat abilities and effectively turns you into a one man army.
In addition to Feltrite and Nanotrites, you can collect weapon and vehicle parts too. All of these resources can then be used to upgrade either yourself or your tools of destruction as you progress throughout the game. This brings us to one seemingly small thing that’s quite frankly, rage inducing.
Opening the game’s menu and swapping between tabs is painfully slow. There’s a solid two second delay between switching tabs at times and it makes it feel as if the game is struggling to just load a menu. Thankfully though, the game world itself doesn’t suffer from this same problem.
The story of Rage 2 is ultimately let down by the fact that it’s too short. You’re thrust into the heat of battle, given an overarching task to do and it’s all over within seven to 12 hours. The open-world aspects of the game pad it and extend this duration but the more side missions and exploration you do, the more powerful you become.
This in-turn makes the rest of the game trivially easy as you have a wide array of powers and weapons at your disposal. If the main story was longer, this might have been mitigated somewhat and would have been far more enjoyable as you make use of your late game superpowers.
Alas, this is not the case and you barely have time to enjoy your powers before the story is over.
Rage against the Machine
Gameplay in Rage 2 boils down to standard first-person-shooter elements combined with using your Focus superpowers. Players will have access to an array of fun to use weapons and vehicles and there is a lot of mindless enjoyment to be had in the game.
The progression and unlock system is rewarding and upgrading your skills and weapons pushes you to explore and do more side-missions. The side-missions however are disappointingly similar and it all feels like you’re doing the same thing over and over again. Go here, raid that camp, defeat that, rinse and repeat.
It’s formulaic and while it works, much more variation could have been implemented into the game.
Driving vehicles in the game is an extremely disorienting experience. The camera control for vehicles takes some getting used to and overall, it’s not a smooth as it should be. Using the vehicle based weaponry though is however, immensely satisfying.
The varied types of weapons available makes vehicular combat a solid choice over the FPS gunplay at some points in the game. The game’s world however is rather large and driving vehicles around takes up a significant portion of game time that could otherwise have been spent on gunplay or story content.
Returning to the gunplay, Rage 2 features an Overdrive mode that you can trigger when you’ve gathered enough charge. This mode effectively turns you into an almost invincible killing machine while the colour saturation of the game skyrockets and neon colours dominate.
Overdrive mode is the most fun you’ll have in Rage 2 and thankfully, the game is very generous about letting you use it. The only drawback to this lies in the fact that because of the game’s colour saturation going wild, the flashing neon colours might induce nausea or photo-sensitivity in some individuals.
The game does feature a very prominent photo-sensitivity warning upon startup though and this is clearly necessary given that the graphics are very vibrant and intense throughout. A photo mode is also included should you wish to take gorgeous screenshots showing off the game’s great lighting systems.
The soundtrack used is on par for the type of game Rage 2 is. Electronic rock scores and adrenaline pumping beats are used and the voice acting is over the top on purpose. This gives the game some character and since most of the NPCs encountered in the game are also so eccentric in nature, the overly dramatic voice work works out.
There’s even a car with a friendly robotic operating system that talks to you so kudos to the voice actors for making Rage 2’s cyberpunk over the top world surprisingly enjoyable.
Rage 2 is a short, fun-filled open-world adventure with a story that could have been so much more but sadly isn’t. It blends together elements from multiple games we’ve seen over the years such as Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs, Grand Theft Auto V, Doom, Borderlands and of course, its predecessor, Rage itself, while never truly excelling.
In the end what we have is a Neon-fuelled, over-saturated, over the top game with just enough to keep you busy but not enough to keep you coming back for more. It’s a shame that it’s over far too quickly because the potential for cyberpunk FPS storytelling greatness was there and its shortness let it down.