Rage is a beautiful game that you will either love or hate, depending, in reality, on what you were expecting from it, and the reality is, most people will find something to complain about – but that’s just human nature.  Essentially what Rage is, is a beautifully rendered bastard child created through the union of a First Person Shooter and Fallout 3.  There’s too much ‘other’ stuff to do to call Rage a pure FPS, and there’s way too much emphasis on shooting people and not enough on building your character and meaningful exploration for Rage to be a fully fledged RPG.

So what you really need to do, is put all your preconceptions aside and embrace Rage for the exciting, varied, action game that it is.

In some aspects I’d liken Rage to Dead Island, in the way both games have tried to add elements to the game-play that people weren’t expecting.  Both games are also mission based action games, that are in essence very linear, but allow you to choose (to a degree) the path you’ll take to finish the story.

Rage like Fallout 3 sees you entering the game after leaving the safety of your privileged life in an underground vault, sorry, bunker, called the Ark.  Once outside it’s a stunningly visualised post-apocalypic world where you discover very early on, most people just want to kill you.

Fortunately you are rescued by a kind soul who takes you back to his small settlement.  The wastelands are populated by various settlements where civilization still exists, but everything outside is on a mission to kill you.  It’s like you’re a magnet for every crazed killer in the wasteland – never do they ask what your intentions are, and the only way to speak to anyone is with your guns.

Fortunately shooting is where Rage excels, with a varied range of weapons that look, feel and sound authentic, and most importantly, deadly.  But it’s more than just the shooting, your enemy is not the usual hide or run straight towards you (well, some still are).  No, these guys will run from cover to cover taking pot shots at you, or the braver ones (generally the ones armed with only melee weapons) who do run towards you, won’t run in a straight line and are vary acrobatic.  Another nice touch is that they will be affected by where you shoot them and what with.  Hit a guy in the shoulder and he’ll cry out in pain and curse you, but he’ll also find cover and shoot back.

If Id had kept Rage as a pure FPS it would probably be a much shorter game (which people would complain about) but would be a solid offering in the over saturated genre.  However, Rage isn’t.  For one you can collect items that you find to create new items or trade for weapons and ammo.  It’s a mission based game as I mentioned earlier, and it has a heavy driving component.

The driving part varies between races in one of the settlements where you earn rewards and such, to driving between missions, or doing actual missions.  The driving aspects are all done in a third person view and whilst the vehicles handle ok, they are probably the weakest part of the whole Rage experience.  As with your character and weapons, the vehicles are varied and can all be upgraded, armored and have guns and rockets attached.  You wouldn’t want to venture into the wasteland with anything else.

And it’s about now that the game starts to get bogged down.  I was at the point where I was getting a tad annoyed at having to do all these pesky little missions, and Rage was looking decidedly like an also ran, when I was given a mission to get a defibrillator from the city hospital.  The city is accessible through the sewers and is not one of the communities where civilization still exists.  And the mission to the hospital shows just how linear the game is, but also shows just how much of a soil-your-pants adrenaline ride Rage can be.  Along with the usual suspects that you’re used to combatting, this journey through the rotting city introduces you to some of the mutated creatures as well as a number of boss battles.

It also drives home the importance of regularly saving your game.

And why, you might ask, would I risk my life to go and get a defibrillator?  Well, just so that the Doc can upgrade the one already installed in my body.  That’s right, if you die, you can zap yourself back to life – though  this isn’t a God mode type of thing, cause you will really die if you’re not careful – the defibrillator will only replenish so much life.

Back in the settlement and I’ve got more things I have to do – and a host of optional missions – to progress on through the story.  It’s hard to say if Rage succeeds into doing what it set out to do.  On the one hand I’m enjoying the game immensely, but on the other hand I sometimes find myself wishing for something more.

What Rage does well is visual presentation.  And it’s more than just the eye popping visual detail, it’s the creative environments and small details that will have you stopping and just taking it all in.  if nothing else, Rage should rack up many accolades for the sheer beauty of the game environments and characters.  It really is the best looking game around.

It also handles the combat well and adding a splattering of RPG elements keeps it fresh for the most part.

The trouble with Rage is that it does suffer from time to time from not quite knowing what it wants to be, and from being a little too much of a technical achievement for some Xbox owners.  If you’re like me and have one of the original, 20GB hard-drives, and you play a fews games that have hefty DLC content, you’ll going to have t make some tough calls if you want to do the recommended install disc one for optimum performance.  For me that meant giving up on playing any FPS games between no and when Battlefield 3 releases, and loosing some saved game data on games that have collected an inch of dust on their cases.

And then there’s the online play.  You’d think that, with their history, Id would have a solid FPS online mode, but sadly the only real combat is vehicle based.  There really won;t be much life outside of the main story-line.

Having said that, Rage is a game that demands to be experienced, and will, I am certain, find a solid base of hardcore fans.

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