Taking Liberties With Time
One of the most important parts of running a review website like this is time management. Out of the 86,400 seconds we’re given in a single day, I try and cram as much as I can into every waking moment. It annoys me then that Rage 2 is a game that takes liberties with my time. There are glimmers of brilliance in Bethesda’s open world romp; influences of both Doom and Bulletstorm can be felt throughout this 30+ hour title but all too often the game’s shining moments are let down by some mundane gameplay and a lackluster, emotionless wasteland devoid of life and personality.
The story sees you take control of the last ranger called Walker in the midst of a post-apocalyptic world on the brink of tyrannical rule. With multiple factions dotted throughout the land, one has risen up to gain prominence, imaginatively named the Authority. Taking place 30 years after the original game, you find yourself flung into accepting 3 different main missions for prominent players in the wasteland. After completing enough side missions, including fetch quests and clearing bandit camps, you then unlock an additional mission for each person before tackling the final stronghold and subsequently liberating the wasteland.
The plot itself is okay and there are a few shining moments, namely in some of the main missions which do a good job keeping the action fresh and exciting. Unfortunately the quest givers and general populace dotted around the world are bland and fail to leave a lasting impression. The comedy here borders between cringe-inducing and Borderlands level of satire but never quite nails the right balance it so desperately seeks. Exposition delivered by side quest givers drags on through unskippable segments and throughout the game there’s a horrible, niggling feeling that Rage 2 is wasting your time with meaningless exploration across the uninteresting landscape. That’s to say nothing of the lackluster driving too.
This formula of completing missions and leveling up a quest giver to advance is something Far Cry has adopted recently too which only exacerbates the issues I have with this game. Unlike Far Cry, which consistently keeps a high level of action flowing throughout, Rage 2 by comparison feels quiet, almost sombre at times, and not in a good way either. The actual aesthetic though, with its heavily saturated colour palette and dominant use of neon pink, is certainly unique and despite its similarities to New Dawn, has some really gorgeous backdrops that you’ll find yourself admiring. Unfortunately, much of the wasteland is empty with large stretches of road to drive over to get to the next destination. It all feels very tired and well trodden ground here, failing to ignite much in the way of originality. However, when the action does pick up, the game really shows some promise and in the thick of gunplay is where Rage 2 shows its potential.
Before even moving from the opening area I’d strongly recommend turning off motion blur in the options. The way the camera swings wildly around as you move, combined with the fast-paced gunplay, will almost certainly give you vertigo or disorientate you as the screen blurs. It’s very distracting to the point of almost being unplayable but once this is switched off, the combat is much more enjoyable.
I think Rage 2 frustrates me so much because the combat is really solid and robust. Guns feel great to use, movement is slick and there’s a real Doom-esque fluidity to these sections that work harmoniously next to some of the set pieces and explosive gun fights through the game. It’s adrenaline pumping stuff and as you progress through the game and add more upgrades and abilities to your arsenal, the game expands and becomes much more akin to the level of insanity PS3’s Bulletstorm injected into its title. It’s just too bad that these segments are so few and far between.
Instead, expect to spend much more of your time slogging it out through bandit camps and finding collectables hidden across the world in order to level up. Most of this comes in the form of storage crates and crystals which ultimately act as your currency – next to the horrible microtransactions of course – but earning them regularly requires you to search thoroughly through cleared bandit camps. Thanks to a handy UI, you do get an indication as to how many are left but as other reviewers have noted before, if you’re someone who wants to complete everything to 100%, expect to spend a lot of time on these segments.
Rage 2 is not a bad game but it’s not a particularly good one either. At its best, this bland open world is overshadowed by glimmers of brilliance in its combat. At its worst, Rage 2 borders on mundane and laborious, taking liberties with your time through meaningless quests and unskippable dialogue. If you value your time, Rage 2 is not a game I can recommend. It’s combat is spread far too thinly and the few shining moments are dimmed by a mundane tasks and mechanics we’ve seen time and time again, delivered with more flair in other games. A shame for sure but Rage 2 is another disappointing entry from iD Software and Bethesda.
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