Review: RAGE (XBOX 360)

You know, there’s some sort of unwritten rule amongst games bloggers/reviewers/writers. I’ve heard it mentioned before that you should never review a game without finishing it: it smacks of a lack of professionalism, a lack of commitment and, most importantly, it doesn’t seem fair to call a race before it finishes.

Fuck that. When I drop forty bucks on a game I want it to entertain the shit out of me: at least keep me interested until the end. If your product fails to even meet that basic requirement then this is what you get: a bile-filled rant on how your game cheated me out my hard-earned money. Simply put: me seeing Rage through until its end would be like finishing a meal of dog shit and ass hair because it came served on a plate. There are principles and then there’s stupidity.

This game should be fantastic, it’s made by ID for crying out loud. Do you remember Doom? Quake? Of course you do: seminal works that laid the foundations for so much of what we hold dear today. Rage could, and should have been a stark reminder of just why John Carmack and co. are held in such high regard. It should have been a return to form for the corridor shooter: full of brutal violence, cheap thrills and crotch-swelling power fantasy. Instead, you get a mere tease of excellence: the proverbial carrot, if you will.

Shooting sections are merely an accompaniment to painfully tedious travelling sections and paper-thin plot devices to will you into another dungeon. Enemies respawn out in the wild with tireless efficiency, making me question why these dumb fuckers keep hanging out on this particular stretch of wasteland after I’ve already taught them thirty, maybe even forty lessons in pain. Still, they come back: but these aren’t your regular sand people. Shit, those Tuscan Raiders were smart: at least they had the sense to come back in greater numbers. The dumb fucks of Rage’s charmless canyons insist on sending the same three hapless goons at a time, as if they’re waging some sort of fruitless war of attrition. Maybe theirs is a psychological war: wearing me down, slowly but surely, until I finally quit the game tired of seeing their stupid fuck faces and shitty Mad Max automobiles. Well done, you bastards, I guess you won.

Rage is a horrible, Frankenstein’s monster of an experience: old school shooting mechanics willfully stuck in the past clash with modern expectations of open world hubs and the illusion of ‘choice’. This culture clash could be a beautiful blend of depth and frivolity, but the two styles simply serve to highlight each-others weaknesses. Simple, brutal violence in underpinned, and undermined, by the need to PICK UP EVERY FUCKING ITEM YOU SEE and the open world shenanigans are tiresome masquerades that simply serve to usher you into another location with another set of disturbingly similar-looking enemies. In-breeding is rife in the wasteland, it seems.

At its best, Rage does provide flashes of ID’s glory days: reminding you of a time before aiming down the barrel was the standard, when enemies were tougher than nails and a time when certain death could be around the next corner. In those rare occasions, it shines. Refreshed from your frenzied festival of death, you are convinced that this game could work, hell, you may even start enjoying yourself. Then, as if to blindside you, as if to purposely kill your buzz, the HUD reads: ‘Travel back to town X and inform NPC Y of what you have done.’ Why!? What the fuck? You have to travel another twenty game miles across the same tired old shitty wasteland, dispatching another set of the same old shitty goons in order to tell some annoying quest dispenser that you’ve just completed the same quest you’ve already proved yourself more than capable of!? Spare me. Send those fuckers a letter, a telegram, shit, anything, but please don’t make me go back there.

Putting my profanity-filled rant aside for just a moment: Rage is a complete mess of a game. It is little more than a clash of styles that only serve to undermine each-other and provide some barely translucent facades for endless fetch quests and shooting galleries. The overwrought cinematic thrills of contemporary shooters are nowhere to be seen and the visceral thrills of the past are undermined at every turn: trotted out like an elderly relative wearing her wedding dress: a sad display where we all either clap awkwardly or try to usher her away promptly before booking the lobotomy. I’ll leave that one to your conscience.