With how the first Rage performed, I didn’t expect Bethesda would ever follow up the game with a sequel. But, here we are and Rage 2 is finally out for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Rage 2 builds upon the post-apocalyptic ideas of the first game and also introduces some color and personality to the world that was missing from the first.
Bethesda seems committed to singleplayer titles with games such as Dishonored 2, Prey 2017, Fallout 4 and more released this console generation. Let’s see if Rage 2 is following in the footsteps of the excellent single-player games from Bethesda or is it a cash grab such as Fallout 76.
Rage 2 Review
It’s been almost 9 years since the launch of Rage, a first-person open-world shooter that aimed to combine the best of two worlds. id Software’s FPS expertise with Bethesda’s open-world pedigree. We can’t deny that the gameplay was fun but, the same couldn’t be said for the open-world as it was just empty and devoid of any color and personality.
From the trailers and gameplay previews, it was clear that id Software and Bethesda did listen to player feedback. They brought in Avalanche Studios to co-develop the game. Now, let’s see if Rage 2 is what id Software and Avalanche Studios promised us or is it another game in the long line of mediocre open-world titles.
Graphics And Performance
We all know the phrase “The first impression is the last impression” but it seems that Avalanche didn’t get the memo. Don’t get me wrong, Rage 2 is a beautiful game with incredible visuals.
The starting area might put many of you off or give you a wrong impression of the game’s visual fidelity. This particular area has low-resolution textures and looks flat which is exactly the opposite of what the game offers.
Once you get past this area, Rage 2 shows off its true potential. The open-world looks incredible and it’s evident that devs have put in a lot of work.
Not to mention when you are battling for your life while chasing a convoy, the effect work is amazing. Avalanche Studios, knows for its explosions, didn’t disappoint in Rage 2. The explosions, the debris flying, the impact of a vehicle collision, and shooting bad guys everything is done right.
The guns look great, however, they aren’t overly detailed. Each gun has a unique style depending on its heritage. Weapons acquired from the Arks have a decidedly futuristic look to them. Weapons acquired from the post-apocalyptic wasteland fit with the look of the world itself.
Almost every weapon in Rage 2 has small graphical details. These can be overlooked but they add to the experience. While these small details wouldn’t be missed if developers opt to omit them but they do add to the overall package.
NPC models are a mixed bag with some having incredibly detailed models and others not so much. This is quite prominent in the game’s starting area where you find NPCs with low-resolution textures.
At least, the developers did justice to the named characters as they are as detailed as you would expect from a game like Rage 2. Don’t expect towns sprawling with NPCs as the game displays a limited number of NPCs in towns.
Interestingly, the graphical sacrifices made aren’t justified when it comes to performance. Despite playing the game on a high-end system, the game refuses to run at 60 FPS as most of the time the game was in low-mid 50s.
These performance issues could be because of the Apex engine, used for games like Just Cause 3 and Just Cause 4. Apex Engine isn’t known for its optimization even on consoles.
There is also visible texture popping while traversing through the game’s world even when using an SSD. Obviously, PS4 and Xbox One are at the end of their lifecycle and are already outdated. The systems being pushed in Rage 2 are too much for these consoles. This is somewhat reflected in the PC version.
These performance issues aren’t that frequent but are noticeable. Overall, Rage 2 is a pretty looking game that needs optimization.
The open-world of Rage 2 is a mixed bag. It has a variety of locations but doesn’t feel lived in. There aren’t any interesting activities to take part in except for going to enemies bases/hideouts and shooting them up as creatively as possible.
There are long stretches of land-mass in-between locations. The world is empty and serves no purpose other than increasing the size of the map.
This is also reflected in the number of NPCs in towns and bandit camps. Either it’s deliberate design decision or to squeeze out performance, these things leave a player wanting more. Rage 2 could have learned a thing or two from Fallout how to make its world lived-in.
Yet, the best weapons and one major city in the game are hidden away off the beaten path. That is the only encouragement you’ll get to explore this bland open-world.
The world itself looks gorgeous at times and it doesn’t feature just barren wasteland. There are varying regions and each showcases a post-apocalyptic wasteland in its own way.
But, in terms of personality, Rage 2’s open-world actually has it. This was something that lacking from the first game. The open-world is colorful and developers have used the right colors. But, these neon colors can sometimes make it difficult to find pink-lid boxes.
But this isn’t enough, with the open-world lacking a lived-in feel, the game at least needs a bunch of interesting random encounters and a bit more NPCs.
One more positive thing about the game’s world is that once you finish the game, the open-world changes a bit to reflect it. But don’t expect too much.
There is no elaborate plot or any twists in Rage 2’s story. It’s straightforward and acts as an excuse to let players roam around and kill people.
The game’s plot is as simple as this, the villain decides to kill everyone because people aren’t taking him seriously and you have to stop him. That’s just about it.
There is no character development, no memorable characters at all. The villain is just a run of the mill bad guy, and the story is nothing to write home about. You will just go around shooting people on behalf of other people and quests will unlock as you progress.
The gameplay is where Rage 2 truly shines and shows its strength. This is the only thing that makes the game worth playing. The developers took the best parts of games like DOOM 2016 and Mad Max and designed a gameplay loop that gets you hooked.
The weapon variety is great and since every weapon feels great to use, that’s is a plus. The shotgun has the right amount of kick to it and every weapon has a unique and incredible design.
Its the game’s moment-to-moment encounters that are really engaging. The gunplay feels amazing and just like Doom, Rage 2 doesn’t expect you to stand at just one place and shoot. Instead, you are constantly on the move and this is helped with a slick and fluid movement system.
The player isn’t the only badass in the game. All enemies pack a lot of firepowers and each faction has its unique weaponry. The slick movement of the player is only matched by each of the enemies. They jump and slide around to keep things interesting and you on the move.
Enemies have patterns that some of you might need some time to figure out. However, the AI isn’t the smartest one you will encounter in a first-person shooter. The AI can be described as just OK even on the higher difficulty settings.
Not only that, throughout the game players will unlock new power after the another and each has its own use. Abilities like the ground pound were my favorite to use in encounters.
The game allows you to create combos using different skills and abilities. All of it makes you the most badass person in the entire wasteland.
Weapons in Rage 2 feel like standard weapons at first. But each has an alternate fire mode to keep things interesting. If that isn’t enough, using the Overdrive ability reveals another destructive mode for each weapon.
Overdrive is a rechargeable ability. Activating it grants the players over-the-top destructive capabilities. Also, the charge meter for Overdrive fills up pretty quick and the game encourages you to use it frequently.
Each gun, ability, ally, and the car has an upgrade menu. You can upgrade your crafted items which require unique currency so you will be hunting for that too. There are upgrades for your upgrades and it’s quite deep.
Your car/tank is a powerful vehicle and the best use of this vehicle is chasing down convoys. These convoys are roaming the map and destroying them grants you upgrades. It’s obvious that Avalanche Studios has learned a lot from Mad Max because the car combat is as amazing as using your weapons.
These convoys aren’t easy to take down and that is a good thing as you need to figure out which weaponry to use. Aside from destroying convoys, the vehicle has no real use other than traversing through the world. The combination of strong shooting mechanics, abilities, combos, and vehicular combat make for an absolute power trip.
Sound And Music
When it comes to music, Rage 2 does a pretty good job. But don’t expect the music or soundtrack to be as good as Mick Gordon’s work on Doom 2016.
The music really builds up the atmosphere and in fights makes you want to blow everything that you see. But there are some timing issues with audio queues and music trying to dominate over the ambient sound effects.
Using your weapons wouldn’t be as much fun as they are if they didn’t pack a punch in terms of their sound effects. Not only the weapons are incredible to use as but the sound work for each weapon is done right.
As for the voice work, that’s mostly a mixed bag and it all depends on how you perceive the game’s world. If you buy into the game’s lore then you will be fine with how side characters are voiced and their odd dialogues.
As for the voice work for the main protagonist, that’s just average for both male and female versions. The voice work doesn’t even match with their actions. A silent protagonist might have worked better in the game.
A bland open-world, uninteresting villain, a barebones story, and no interesting side activities, all these would have made Rage 2 a terrible game. But, when the gameplay loop is so good and keeps you on your toes it’s easy to overlook these flaws. The energetic first-person combat and bombastic vehicular combat makes it all worthwhile.