Most Intriguing Idea: Streaming the whole world as a single megatexture rather than texturing individual objects in it.
Best Design Decision: Compelling enemy animations.
Worst Design Decision: Making the game open-world.
Well, Rage sure is a mess, and it stands as a good example of the truth that if you have an idea and you have talent you still might not have the right talent for the idea. Rage could have been an above-average to excellent corridor shooter, despite its puny and weightless weapons, but as an open-world game it’s poor. The world is a standard post-apocalyptic wasteland devoid of interesting scenery or almost any kind of life aside from screaming (all-male) bandits and screaming (all-male) mutants. It’s traversed using ridiculously floaty muscle cars that get in silly car fights, of which there seem to be an inexhaustible supply despite the absence of anything resembling a car factory or indeed an industrial base of any kind. There’s a lot of space to drive around the open world, but there’s not a lot to actually do except go to the places where missions are.
The levels themselves are decent shooting galleries, although universally infected by a compulsion (associated with the open world) to make a short one-way route available between the objective and the entrance so you can easily get back to where you left your car. It’s curious to me that the game never even went so far as to shake things up by having an easy-in/hard-out mission where the objective was achieved immediately and the goal became to escape. The enemies are beautifully animated, but whatever benefit this grants the game is nullified by their poor AI – overly given to charging – and the de-immersing effect of shooting a half-naked guy with a shotgun at point blank range without killing him (to say nothing of dumping half a clip into an enemy’s unprotected face before he goes down). The late game is also given over to monster closets – especially noticeable in the final level (and final battle!).
In places Rage looks very good for what it is, and the technical skill underlying its construction is undeniable. Unfortunately, the core design is archaic, the open world is a bore, and the post-apocalyptic aesthetic is fairly tired.
Verdict: Not recommended