Title: RAGE 2
Developer: Avalanche Studios / id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: Action / Adventure / First Person Shooter
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: Out now!
Price: £49.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title. *Currently on sale for £31.99*
Following its 2011 predecessor, RAGE 2 is a first-person, open-world shooter developed by Avalanche Studios. The setting is your typical apocalyptic wasteland – a world devastated by an asteroid collision and now at the mercy of a violent militant group, known as the Authority. Choosing to play as either a male or female, you adopt the role of Walker, who has been raised by the Ranger Erwina Prowley following the death of your parents. When Prowley is brutally murdered, Walker becomes one of the last remaining Rangers and has to work with a series of allies to strengthen their operations and finally put a stop to the Authority.
Without a doubt, the best aspect of RAGE 2 is combat. There is only one approach to take, and that is full out, guns blazing, assault. The gunplay is fast and frantic and instantly reminded me of 2016’s fury-fuelled Doom. The Ranger suit allows you to move at breakneck speeds and slide around as you crush countless enemies. Building up kills sends you into Overdrive, an ability that boosts your damage output while regenerating your health. Being in Overdrive gives you an overwhelming sense of power, and the ensuing carnage is a cathartic experience.
Outside of combat, searching for Arks (old survival shelters) allows you to enhance your skill set significantly. Arks contain new weaponry and abilities, so I would highly recommend exploring the wasteland for these lucrative structures. The weapons in RAGE 2 are incredibly inventive and a blast to use. The Firestorm Pistol, for example, shoots combustible rounds that attach to enemies – pressing L2 then triggers Walker to click his fingers and observe his foe go up in flames.
A throwable item, known as the Wingstick, is essentially a death boomerang that has the potential to decapitate enemies with one well-placed throw. Alongside this novel arsenal, Arks also contain abilities to use in combat. ‘Shatter’ fires a kinetic blast, stripping enemies of their armour and sending them flying, while ‘Defibrillation’ gives you a second chance if you die during a tense battle. Both weapons and abilities can be upgraded through an extensive skill tree, offering some customisation options for your preferred playstyle.
There is also some variety in both enemy type and location. From tight, claustrophobic, underground tunnels to the open wasteland, Avalanche has done a solid job in keeping firefights from ever feeling repetitive. Enemy types range from shielded heavies to marauders that roam the world with baseball bats and grenades. Boss battles feature more frequently towards the end of the campaign. However, these characters are not as well varied and do not require a great deal of experimentation before taking them down.
Outside of gathering gear and upgrades, most of your time will be spent completing missions for NPCs. This is the usual selection of clearing outposts and eliminating enemy sentry points, alongside several other activities dotted throughout the wasteland. Traversing the world, whether on land or by air, is enjoyable and having a large number of vehicles to unlock meant that I never got bored with moving from mission to mission.
However, I do have one major gripe with the gameplay – the rate at which new systems are introduced early on in the story. From learning about project points that can be purchased to unlock new perks to upgrading your gear, to the different items required for these upgrades, far too many systems were brought in all at once and it felt overwhelming. If these systems were introduced more gradually, I would have taken more time to think about which upgrades better suited my playstyle. Of the ones that I did equip, I often felt they made little difference to my overall experience.
RAGE 2’s audio is a tale of two halves. Weapons pack a punch as they obliterate anything that stands in your way, with shotgun shells cracking and pistols kicking back with satisfying ferocity. The soundtrack is also great, with inspiration from Doom’s heavy metal score littered throughout the game. Unfortunately, the voice acting is mediocre at best. Characters are dull and one-dimensional, and the humour is a complete miss for me. I understand that RAGE 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously (you only need to look at the title art), but when characters are cracking jokes immediately after loved ones have passed it makes the scale of the situation feel meaningless.
The visuals are similarly mixed. With its desert wasteland and neon colour scheme, RAGE 2 feels like it has been taken straight out of George Miller’s ‘Mad Max’ (2015), which isn’t overly surprising given that Avalanche has already released a game based on the franchise. Though the map itself isn’t particularly vast for an open-world game, Avalanche has avoided the pitfall of creating everything in a similar shade of apocalyptic brown. The marshy swamps and luscious green jungles are a welcome relief from the sandy plains and keep the world and its encounters from ever feeling too repetitive.
Despite this, I couldn’t help feeling that RAGE 2 looked disappointingly average, especially in comparison to older titles like Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s not that it looks terrible, it’s just nothing particularly special. Navigating the in-game menu, however, is atrocious. Switching tabs between vehicle and weapon upgrades are sluggish and jittery, and the overall menu system is infuriating. I also experienced several performance issues throughout my 20 hours in the wasteland.
When driving around the world, pop-in was a regular occurrence and enemies often appeared a split second before I mowed them down. Similarly, the frame rate would drop considerably during encounters with several combatants. Admittedly, releases over the last few years have raised the bar when it comes to gameplay visuals and user-friendly interfaces, however, these features just made RAGE 2 feel dated and affected my enjoyment of the open-world experience.
RAGE 2’s main story is incredibly short, with just eight missions in total. I was surprised at the overall length, and if you choose to focus on the campaign, you could easily be finished over a weekend. Thankfully, there are a ton of side activities to keep you occupied outwith the main story path. Discovering certain location provides upgradeable items and money for purchasing resources, while optional races can be found around the map.
As mentioned before, driving is a lot of fun and lends itself well to these more competitive side missions. Collectables aren’t in abundance, but there is enough content to keep you busy for at least 20+ hours. Avalanche has also continued to support the title post-launch by releasing weekly challenges and plans to provide additional expansions throughout the remainder of 2019.
The trophy/achievement list is phenomenal, particularly with the variety of ways to kill your enemies. The ‘Pseudo Post-Mortem’ trophy challenges you to kill three enemies within ten seconds after restoring your health with the ‘Defibrillation’ ability, and ‘Off With Their Heads’ requires you to decapitate 100 unlucky people with your Wingstick. This approach to trophies and achievements encourages you to mix it up in combat, utilising your entire arsenal to devastating effect.
With RAGE 2, Avalanche has demonstrated their skills when it comes to designing combat and gunplay. An imaginative approach to abilities and weaponry stops encounters from ever feeling repetitive (although that’s perhaps not that impressive given the excruciatingly short campaign). Unfortunately, the story itself is completely forgettable, and the NPCs that inhabit the wasteland are one-dimensional. With an abundance of fantastic titles already released in 2019 and so many more on the horizon, it’s difficult to recommend RAGE 2. But if you’re looking to switch off from your daily routine, or fill that Doom-sized hole ahead of Eternal, then RAGE 2 may be the cathartic experience you’re looking for.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can purchase RAGE 2 from the PlayStation Store on the following link, https://store.playstation.com/en-gb/product/EP1003-CUSA10300_00-RAGE02FULLGAME00?smcid=pdc%3Aen-gb%3Apdc-games-rage-2-ps4%3Aleadproductinfo-buy-on-playstation-store%3Arage-2%3ASTORE-MSF75508-RAGE2CRM