Bethesda’s most recent ventures haven’t proved quite as fruitful as they may have hoped, but there was once a time in which almost everything they touched became a near masterpiece. One such pile of creative genius that many were able to enjoy was id Software’s shooter, RAGE. However, despite being a perfectly capable and mostly enjoyable shooter, things have been pretty silent on the RAGE front, until the announcement broke that RAGE 2 would be coming. And now it’s time to head into that apocalyptic world once more!
So, the sequel kicks things off some 30 years after the events of the first game with players stepping into the shoes of Walker, a son of one of the original Ark survivors. After just a few short minutes you quickly realise he’s just as much of a badass as those that came before him.
The story launches with a devastating attack on the base of your people with the man behind it being none other than General Cross. After bringing with him an army of destructive Mutants it’s not long before your leader is killed, and you are set on a path to halt the villainous General Cross once more.
That is essentially the main plot line, and should you so wish, you can just blast your way through the missions, get to the end and enjoy the rather eye-catching visuals along the way. Should you want to get everything out of RAGE 2 however, then you’ll need to find yourself running errands for the various towns-folk of the land, clearing bandit hideouts and generally proving yourself as a useful extra set of hands, all while keeping an eye out for some extra Nanotech abilities and vehicle upgrades.
If I was to describe the feel of RAGE 2, I’d tell you to imagine the movement and combat of DOOM, mixed with the overly colourful apocalypse setting of Far Cry New Dawn, before adding in some typical RAGE weaponry and enemies. Whether that sounds good or not will depend on your taste, but if you’re looking to RAGE 2 to provide a similar experience and feel to that of the original, then you’ll be slightly disappointed. It is very much its own game.
So the gameplay sees players traverse six unique regional territories, with a wetlands and jungle-type environment on show alongside the typically vast stretches of open desert and barren wastelands. Within these different regions, players can expect to find plenty of combat and this is an area in which RAGE 2 shines. It only took a short while for me to find my favourite weapon combo before I started hunting down every enemy I could find, all with an evil glint in my eye. Sure you have a decent selection of weapons to choose from – nine in fact – each of which are perfectly capable of decimating the enemy, but if I had to recommend something in particular it would be to soften up an enemy with a cheap Wingstick shot, before blasting them away – quite literally – with the shotgun. My god is it satisfying!
I could run off numerous stories of how I’ve run into bandit camps and watched on in concerning delight as enemy mutants fly against the walls after a charged shotgun blast, and yes there is an element of futuristic innovation to the weapons all these years later, however it has to be said that across the gunplay in general RAGE 2 is quite simply incredible, with tight gunplay being on show from start to finish.
Enjoyable gunning is one of the key factors to a successful open-world shooter, but you do also need to have an decent story for players to engage in, and whilst you won’t exactly be blown away by the narrative found across the roughly 12-hour showing, the story involved is somewhat entertaining and has enough to pull you through to the end. That said, there is a big element of going somewhere, shooting something, fetching something, and then coming back, which can start to grate after a while. Thankfully there is enough story woven in to keep things feeling interesting enough and the repetition doesn’t really become an issue until you’ve wrapped things up with the main campaign and begin mopping up the side missions.
Talking of side missions and one feature that proves surprisingly enjoyable is the racing. From the start of the game, Walker has access to Phoenix, the upgradeable combat vehicle of choice for rangers that comes with a fully loaded voice and catty personality to keep you in toe. When it comes to racing however, RAGE 2 very quickly begins to feel like Mad Max meets MotorStorm; something we should all be praising.
A major key feature this time around with RAGE 2 are the new Nanotrites. Throughout the game Walker will gain access to various powerups/abilities known as Nanotrites through locating the various Arks spread across the land, and after a quick injection to send the power coursing through the veins, and a brief tutorial showing how to use it, you’ll be the proud owner of a fresh new devastating attack. These can vary quite dramatically, and it will depend on your playstyle as to which ones you want to use when unlocked. My Nanotrite of choice has been one which allows the wielding of a Kinect Blast of energy, sending enemies flying across the area they were standing in. It fast became an obsession like the shotgun.
Finally, and we have the visual and audio design, and as expected, these are on point. The murky feel of an apocalyptic wasteland is captured wonderfully within RAGE 2 on Xbox One and whilst I still prefer the setting and feel of the original, the modern colourful-type we have on offer here is one that will be appreciated by many. The audio is an equally magnificent masterpiece with weapons, enemy cries, vehicles and just about anything else that pops up in the wasteland sounding true to the setting. The dialogue has certainly had care and consideration put in to levy a sense of feeling into the characters; that in itself allows them to feel engaging throughout.
Overall and if you enjoyed DOOM, had a blast with Mad Max, or simply want a fresh take on a colourful apocalypse after beating Far Cry New Dawn, then RAGE 2 is certainly a game you’ll want to check out. It doesn’t feel like a true sequel as such but if you want more RAGE, it does an alright job of that too. Without comparing though, RAGE 2 is a capable and mostly enjoyable shooter, and even though the side missions become overly repetitive and the story isn’t something you’ll remember for years to come, this may just be the craziest shooter you’ll play this year.