RAGE 2 Xbox One X Review

 

 
Overview
 

Genre: First-person shooter
 
Rating: MA
 
Release Date: 14/05/2019
 
Overall
 
 
 
 
 
2.5/5


User Rating
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Positives


- Weapons feel and sound amazing
- Controls and Combat are fantastic

Negatives


- World is empty and bland
- Stuttering and pop in issues
- Story is overly serious and uninteresting
- Campaign consists of only 8 missions


Posted June 3, 2019 by

 
Full Article
 
 

From the moment the game’s existence was leaked by Walmart Canada in 2018, the narrative surrounding RAGE 2 has focused in on the game’s bombast and zaniness. With the game co-developed by Just Cause creators Avalanche Studios and id Software, the pedigree was there to support the bombastic trailers and promise a game filled with crazy abilities, fantastic weapons and heaps of explosions and gibs. Beyond the weapons and gibs however, RAGE 2 is a bland, lifeless open world game almost entirely missing the craziness of its marketing.

RAGE 2 throws you right into the thick of things, as the settlement you live in is attacked by an army of mutants. Despite the seeming prowess of your hi-tech Rangers – exosuit wearing, warp-dashing, killing machine soldiers – the settlement is overwhelmed and its leaders killed. Having taken the exosuit of a dead Ranger during the chaos, you become the last living Ranger. Tasked with continuing the completion of a mysterious project called Project Dagger, it’s up to you to seek out allies, gain abilities and eventually wipe out the threat posed by General Cross and the Authority. While much of the marketing around RAGE 2 made the game seem crazy and fun, the story is anything but. Deathly serious most of the time, any moments of attempted humour feel completely out of place and fall flat. The serious tone of the story feels at odds with the manic gameplay segments of the game, and I quickly found myself hanging out for dialogue and story sequences to end so that I could get back to the parts that were interesting. Thankfully, the campaign of RAGE 2 is extremely short, clocking in at sub-12 hours including enforced content gating behind the completion of open world side activities.

If you’ve played Avalanche Studio’s Mad Max, you’ll already be familiar with much of RAGE 2’s open world. Largely empty, with little to no dynamic events, and a smattering of the same four or five open world activities across its vast expanse. While I certainly don’t expect my post-apocalyptic worlds to be teeming with life, I’d expect to come across more than a few people every couple of in-game kilometres, and given the seeming hostility of everybody involved, I’d expect there to be a bit more shooting from those few random enemies. Most of the game’s few activities follow the same formula – kill all of the enemies in the enemies in the area and then perform one of four different actions. There’s no interesting mechanics, level design or narrative to distinguish them – just wanton murder, which while fun, isn’t enough motivation to sustain hours of repetition. The world of RAGE 2 isn’t helped by its size, with the vastness of the world seemingly going a long way to explaining how sparsely populated it is. This vastness means you spend a massive amount of time simply driving from place to place, with little or nothing of interest happening as you spend minutes driving between the same few activities or the handful of story missions. RAGE 2 certainly could have benefited from a smaller world size and a few more activity types to partake in.

Given the empty expanses and a strict adherence to a 1080p resolution on Xbox One X I expected some exceptional technical performance from the game, but it certainly doesn’t deliver. During my time with the game I had frequent issues with stuttering, and the pop-in while traversing the world was some of the most noticeable I’d seen in years. I could see plants and details visibly appear and fill in as I drove around the world, which actively pulled me out of the experience. What is in the world, however, is incredibly detailed and well built, if not particularly large in quantity or variety. Enemies are incredibly detailed, as are their animations and damage models for when you shoot or kill them, but models are repeated incredibly often. Grass, trees and buildings are fantastic to look at, especially in the few areas in the game where they are plentiful. Of course, most of your time is spent looking at dirt and rocks, making little use of the best assets the game has to offer.

The one crowning achievement of RAGE 2 comes from its controls and gameplay. Walker’s movements are incredibly responsive, strafing and moving at the slightest flick of the analogue stick. The game’s guns feel amazing and are fun to use, with little recoil to detract from the shooting experience and some incredible sound design to match. Your Ranger abilities (Nanotrites) are great fun to use as well, with things like Shatter (Force Push), Slam (Ground pound) and Dash turning you into an utter killing machine. Add in Focus, a triggerable state where your damage is increased, your health regenerates and your guns gain special firing modes, and the combat in RAGE 2 becomes massively engaging and as varied as you want it to be. The real issue with these comes from the general design of RAGE 2 – you can finish the game without getting most of the weapons and abilities, and the system to upgrade them has too many hurdles. Unlike other games that funnels you directly into its weapons and abilities, RAGE 2 only calls out a few of the Arks you’ll need to find to gain your weapons and abilities. Unless you traverse every inch of the world to check every question marked point of interest, you’ll likely finish the game without a majority of the weapons or abilities in the game.

Upgrading yourself in RAGE 2 can sometimes be an act of frustration, as multiple currencies are needed to truly get the most out of the game. Feltrite is a generic currency that can be used to level up your Nanotrites and Weapons, which provide specific improvements and unlocks further improvements that can be purchased using secondary currencies. The difference between these are generic stat upgrades such as added damage or duration, versus the more interesting upgrades like secondary affects, armour piercing ammo and larger magazines. Add in additional currencies for Projects (permanent increases to a variety of stats and special unlocks), vehicle upgrades and character stat (ie. Health) upgrades and you eventually total at 8 different currencies for upgrades. Simplifying these systems would have gone a long way here.

I went into RAGE 2 with moderate expectations, looking for an interesting world to traverse, a story filled with bombast and zaniness, and some fantastic combat. In the end, what I found was a boring, empty world, a disengaging and overly serious story, a confusing myriad of upgrade currencies and some fantastic combat. By no means is RAGE 2 a terrible game, but put simply it’s a forgettable, bland and wholeheartedly average one.


Andrew Cathie

 
Rocket Chainsaw's premier Fantasy-loving Editor. I basically play anything and everything that looks like it could be fun or interesting.