These days, it’s becoming harder and harder to find an original video game. In an
era of cookie-cutter 3rd-person shooters and “wannabe Wii” motion-sensor systems, the bar is continually being raised while the standards seem to be lowered. Only two weeks ago, the latest in a long line of these knock-off titles, called simply “Rage,” was released on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Published by Bethesda Softworks and developed by Id Software, “Rage” aims to be an original post-apocalyptic, first-person pseudo-RPG. It is in the same vein as Bethesda’s already familiar “Fallout” game franchise, but with a much heavier focus on action, driving and racing elements, and graphic quality. However, despite the bright, sun-blasted landscape and stunning visuals, “Rage” is sure to evoke it’s titular name in fans of the “Fallout” franchise that it so heavily emulates, despite having no relation it.
The story is relatively simple, the world ended in an apocalyptic catastrophe (in this particular game, a meteor) that left only scattered pockets of humanity left alive and the rest of the planet a vast wasteland populated by mutants, cannibals, and at least one authoritarian remnant of the government- in “Rage,” a group creatively named “The Authority.” You play as a nameless survivor of said catastrophe, one of the lucky few in the world selected to ride out the devastation in a specialized “Ark” (barely distinct from the “Fallout” games’ own “Vaults”). Your character is given a set appearance but no backstory, name, or even a reason for why he (as, unlike a true RPG, you cannot create your character or select it’s gender, ethnicity, skills, or traits) was selected to survive humanity’s downfall. You stumble out into the bright, sun-drenched wasteland to begin your adventure, being greeted by none other than John Goodman voicing a kindly settler named Dan Hagar, and work your way through various areas fighting mutants, tribal raiders, authority soldiers, and other dangers of post-apocalyptia, using various degrees of weaponry and inventions, and discovering secrets and plot points along the way. And while the opening cinematic of the game is incredibly beautiful and of the quality we expect in today’s games, it feels out of place compared to the lackluster story and “rip-off” seeming plot elements. Everything about this game screams to me that the developers were just saying “we loved ‘Fallout’ so we’re making our own” or “we weren’t creative enough to be original” as well as a healthy dose of my own conscious mind begging the question of “where is everybody getting gasoline for their dune buggy’s in a post-apocalyptic wasteland?”
Driving is a huge element of “Rage,” with a very “Road Warrior” looking flare to the vehicles and equipment, as well as a lot of guns strapped to the various vehicles you’ll own throughout the game’s progression, it is however rarely well-worked into the game’s actual plot. Most of the time you’ll drive from place to place in the game, sure, but the actual action of racing and shooting in a car is rarely needed in these times, and most of the time the exciting portions of racing are played as minigames, accessed through various portions of towns.
All in all, “Rage” just feels like a bad copy of “Fallout” spliced into a haphazard racing game, with no real context or continuity binding the two together. While the graphics are beautiful, the gameplay is solid, and the character models and voice acting are some of the best in the business, I will almost certainly sell this game and wait for “Fallout 4” so that I can enjoy the original wasteland-romping, mutant-blasting, true-RPG that defined the genre. “Rage,” in my humble opinion, earns a 4 out of 10, where points 1-3 are for the graphics, and 4 is for the attempt. A mediocre knockoff with spiffed-up visuals, but a knockoff nonetheless.