Saturday, 13 July 2013

Rage: Game design review

Created by ID responsible for Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, Doom 3. Rage is suppose to be the next-generation shooter using the ID5 engine back in the 2010. I read the reviews about the game  and watched some gameplay with many reviews giving it 75-80%. I thought I would be getting a shooter with some questing and driving elements. Unfortunately what I got was a shooter with too much walking around, talking and driving.

First of all the shooting is rock solid. It's very fun and very exciting. Weapons all handle well and the physics are pretty good. However nearly all the non-shooting sections are just busy work or unnecessary, the section below highlights various features and explains what I felt padded out the game unnecessarily.

Game Issues:

Town areas: It's fun to walk around the town for a while but like in so many RPGs, there's nothing to do but accept quests, play games and stock up on supplies. I personally think a menu driven interface would have been fine rather than having to wander around town.

Driving: Driving is fine but feels very basic. Furthermore, driving and shooting are separated by clearly marked areas. You can't for example, drive into a base and take out a generator for example and then hop out of your car like in Farcry. No, you have to drive up to the roadblock demarcating the end of the driving area, hop out, walk to the entrance and proceed indoors. Also you have to spend money to buy ammo and repairs which means you have less to spend on your normal weapons.

Combining items is okay: As you walk around you'll be able to pick up stuff and combine them into various items. It's a simple effective system but I find it a little bit out of place when you get back to town and have to browse the shop to find parts you're missing to craft certain items. Again, it just seems to pad things out rather than allowing me to jump into the action.

Quest interface: Each main quest is compulsory so I don't understand why you need to click 'accept the quest'. It feels redundant. Also, each quest is accompanied by a long text displaying what the quest giver is saying, another redundant feature.

Enemies are mostly humans: Most of the enemies you fight are humans or mutants. Yes, they all dress quite differently but the humans mostly act the same and have very similar weapons. Each faction you fight does have one or two different unit types to mix things up but it still feels a bit too similar at time.

Lack of autosell: There are bits and pieces that you can pick up that serve no purpose except to be sold. But there is no autosell button so you have to manually sell your junk.

Lack of boss: There are several bosses in the game but nothing particularly memorable or worth noting. For example you have your typical 'giant mutant' and 'car with turret' bosses.There isn't even a final boss either, just you in a room full of respawning mutants.

Lack of levels: Most of the 'levels' are designed well but the game has actually very few levels and most of them are fairly small. What's worse is that there is a main quest level where you have to return back to a city and go through the same level again except in reverse! Furthermore the side quests/missions in the game take place in the exact same levels as the main quests so you're just repeating what you've already done in the already sparse levels.

Earning money feels like grinding: There are two ways to earn money. 1) Accept side missions and 2) Play minigames. The side missions as mentioned above are repetitive because they take place in the levels as the main mission. Some of the mini-games are actually quite fun but in mini-games you have to risk your hard earned cash and unfortunately the rewards aren't that worth it.

Mini-card game is expensive: I think the mini-card game is actually quite fun but the cards are very expensive or you have to find them in the various game areas! Furthermore, you need more cards in your deck to make a viable deck meaning you probably won't have a good deck until at least 75% of the game is done.

Unchanging world: I don't really mind an unchanging world too much if this was a linear corridor shooter but for a game that attempts to be a mix of sand box and action the world feels unchanging and static. None of your actions feel particularly eventful in the larger scheme of things. I guess I was hoping to see some buildings get destroyed or built as you made areas safer. As it stands, it's pretty much being attacked by the same bandits over and over again as you drive around.

Pointless RPG character class: There's an RPG-like class selection at the beginning of the game where you can specify what bonuses you might receive such as dealing more damage. However nothing really comes of this, you don't get to improve your skills or anything. Again another pointless feature.

Overall this is a mechanically sound shooter spaced out with way too many unnecessary mechanics. I love old-school shooters like Doom, Quake, Painkiller and Serious Sam. I started playing wanting a 6-9 hour linear shooter and that's all I was asking for really. Instead what I got was a shooter with driving, crafting and questing unnecessarily shoved into this padding out its core gameplay mechanics. This should be scoring 50-60% not 80% or 90%. I don't recommend buying this when you could have a more satisfying game by purchasing those old school shooters or games like Crysis.

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