Author Topic: RAGE 2 [2019 -- id Sofware / Avalanche Studios]  (Read 346 times)

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RAGE 2 [2019 -- id Sofware / Avalanche Studios]
« on: September 19, 2020, 01:43:50 PM »
A blue smiley? I actually liked this game? I know, crazy, right? But bear with me because I only started to appreciate the game when I understood what purpose it could have for me. So let's continue with the review.

RAGE 2 takes place about 30 years after the events of the first RAGE. During this time the resistance waged a war against the Authority, a war that they thought they won by defeating the General Cross. Guess what, they didn't. Your character is what they call a second generation "arkist", meaning that you weren't in one of the arks but your parents were. You live in the little town of Vineland in the south of the territories when Cross decides to annihilate it, just because it hosts the rangers -- kind of the tough guys of the wastelands. During the attack, one of the rangers is killed and you decide to jump into his armor. Rangers' armors are special because they can be modified which in turn gives you augmentations or perks (seriously a lot of perks). Anyway, before the battle is over, the last of the "true" rangers die, the town is ravaged and you find yourself being voted the last ranger just because you wear the adequate armor and were trained by your foster mother AKA the best ranger ever.

Next thing you know you're on your way to meet the old resistance leaders because they have a way to defeat Cross but of course they need you to run some errands before that happens, like gathering bits and pieces. Who would have thought?

If I seem a bit sarcastic there it's because story is certainly not RAGE 2 strong point. That doesn't mean that the game itself is bad, just that if you are looking for a game with an astoundingly compelling story and great characterization, you certainly won't find it there. No, RAGE 2 instead definitely enters the "let me blow stuff and explode people to pass the time" category which is not bad in itself. All gamers need a fun and brutal mindless shooter from time to time and on that front RAGE 2 seriously delivers.

Although... it's not really RAGE anymore, is it? Technically, this new opus if far superior to its predecessor no arguing about that. The environment looks better and more varied, the game seems more populated, even outside towns hubs and there's even a collection of many data pads that can be found across the various locations of the game attempting to flesh out the world a little more like explaining the origin of the factions, the fate or discoveries of some characters...etc. RAGE 2 is definitely not the uninhabited desert that was the first RAGE. Once the initial loading is done, you can roam the game from south to north and east to west and vice versa without any loading screen even when transitioning between outdoors and indoors, ewactly like in The Witcher 3 (the resemblance between those two games sadly starts and stops right there).

But as I said, the franchise "RAGE" was kind of lost in the translation. Meaning that what I played looked like a Frankenstein monster assembled with bits and pieces taken from other games and featuring about zero originality, even if the whole ensemble in itself is working perfectly. I cannot even count how many times I found myself thinking "Ooh, they took that from DooM", "Ooh, That's a nice bit of Wolfenstein Youngblood there (the good bit fortunately)", "What? Borderlands?"... It's amazing how this game for some reason reminds me of Borderlands 2 despite different aesthetic approaches (and if Borderlands was single player only).

If I were to attempt a culinary analogy, I'd say that RAGE 2 is a base of RAGE with a stuffing of DooM, an icing of Borderlands, a speckle of Wolfenstein and even a zest (but just a zest) of Prey -- the one from 2017. It even looks like a cake with its friendly "pink is useful" color (every usable item in the game is painted pink so you can easily know that it can be used). Its not bad in itself, it may at time even taste good past the first spoon and once you get used to it.

That's the key point "get used to it". Initially after my first two hours of game I already had a bullet point list of a dozen of bad things, remarks and whatnot, that are for the most part still valid. But then I finally realize that I wasn't looking at this game the right way. If you look at it for what it is, a fancy shooter with a story that barely holds together and is there first and foremost as a pretext, subdued main characters that have barely anything to say and kiosk townsfolks merely there to provide you with points of interests then one can forget about being serious and get to the fun stuff... blow things and people, not necessarily in that order. The game requiring very little thinking from you it can become relaxing and fun, especially when you get all the cool powers and perks your armor can integrate which include things like blowing people with the power of one hand or falling from high places creating a vortex at the point of impact that attract enemies in the immediate vicinity before blowing them up and prevent you from taking falling damage yourself (if you don't perform your jump from too high a point) or creating a singularity with the tips of your fingers that will attract an enemy and make them fly helpless so you can strafe them better. All the weapons  can be modded so you can turn them into your favorite tools of mayhem.

Unlike some other games published by Bethesda, a cleared location won't repopulate (so you won't get away for an hour and return to find it with even more bandits than the ones you dispatched previously.). No a cleared location is definitely well... cleared, and stays that way. The good point is that it helps keep track on the map of what you already did (a little green tick on a checkbox indicates you cleared the location, a greyed location indicates that you both cleared the location and gathered all the good stuff that was there as well). The bad point is that once you've finished the game and cleared all the locations there's not much remaining to do... so it's time for a NewGame+ (you start a new game with all the weapons and the perks you already have and knowing the locations of all the spots in the game while all those locations are reset to "uncleared" and the story rebooted). Unfortunately the NewGame+ is a little bugged. Some locations does not indicate a "cleared" status even if you completely clear them (some items not registering as being acquired -- that problem does not occur in a normal game). Ah well... It's a Bethesda published game after all...  At that point, bugs are like a Bethesda tradition; never publish without them.

The bad points (I'd be sad to not mention them) are: well, as I said it's a aRPG with little actual RPG -- convoluted and complex questlines, lot of interesting characters to talk to about this and that, a multitude of interesting side missions... all those things that you can find in a The Elder Scrolls game for example, well, they simply are not in RAGE 2; nor were they in RAGE 1 anyway. Oh and, you remember Loosum Hagar the sweet little thing who taught you to play with windsticks? Well, she's still there but she's 47 now and she looks like crap... and what I mean by that is: all the important NPCs look like crap compared to the first RAGE. It's like if some of the devs said "hey, it's about blowing up people, who cares if they're looking good or not before you re-look their face with a rocket launcher?" OK, fair point... that said, did it need to apply to the main NPCs too, you know the few ones one doesn't get to blow up?

The vehicle combat is not what I'd call "fun". The reason for this is not the game mechanics but rather the control profile (at least for controllers, I didn't try keyboard and mouse) that is designed in such a way that fighting is a pain in the ass for at least all the gamers who use the controller in a certain way (specifically with the trigger finger on the trigger) because the profile was specifically thought for people using the gamepad the other way (with the middle finger on the trigger and the trigger finger on the shoulder button -- go figure). You can switch the controller between three different profiles for vehicles but none of them is really satisfactory for all the people using the controller a certain way (I have no percentage because comically enough nobody has ever seemed to thought about compiling statistics on the way gamer dispose their fingers on a controller).

Fortunately enough you can ignore vehicle combat most of the time. Speeding away from your attackers is enough (they seem to be better at ambushing than pursuing).

In the same vein, the customization of your character is pretty easy. You can choose to have a male voice or a female voice. That's it, it's really the only thing you can customize as far as appearance go.

There's a few other bad points but what the heck. You're not itching to play an ultra-serious game here, right? Because if you are I'd recommend anything except RAGE 2 (and the Borderlands franchise). However if you just want a game to take your mind off the sad reality of RealLifeTM then that might be your ticket to fun. Just don't expect any storytelling quality whatsoever; just mad driving and trigger happy time with brutal slaughter.

Maybe wait for the bargain bin though..

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. -- A. Einstein