Review: Rage 2 is an Incredible Shooter Buried in a Massive and Boring Open World
The hype was real.
I mean, really real.
Rage wasn’t the best game, but I was one of the few people that actually liked its Borderlands meets Fallout aesthetic and super-fast, extremely tight gunplay.
I could say that Rage 2 is more of that. And it is. It has GREAT shooting mechanics, on-par with Doom (2016), and even a bit of the Bulletstorm wackiness (without all the butt stuff for extra points).
But man, do I absolutely abhor Rage 2. I hate it.
I wanted to like it so badly, but I couldn’t even enjoy it for idle amusement. It has great shooting mechanics, but any enjoyment is absolutely obliterated by its horrible open world.
Rage 2 really seemed like a no-brainer. The follow-up to 2011’s Rage was looking to be a colorful mix-up to the original formula but instead ends up feeling more shallow and brainless than its predecessor.
Okay, let’s do this, I guess: The story. You’re Walker. A ranger. I wish I was making this shit up. You can choose between a male or female protagonist, which is nice, but the one who isn’t chosen dies gruesomely soon after, which is a bit unsettling. That’s when your surviving character dryly says, “better you than me” in a cold manner that would mirror Duke Nukem if it was said with any ounce of charisma. I played as the male Walker, and boy, did I hate that guy’s obnoxious voice and stupid hair.
There are some characters that return from Rage as well as a few references to the first game, but the story is mostly its own thing. You’re still fighting against the Authority—a bland name to a bland authoritarian set of guys that I’m too bored about to even describe.
The open world is absolutely huge, and that’s part of the reason I hate it so much. If there were interesting things to see or find, it might be worth driving around. But as it is, it’s an empty lot with amusement park attractions scattered too far from each other. The waypoint system is garbage and always insists on convoluted routes, but you can’t always take a straight line to your destination because there are so many obstacles.
The open world is often gorgeous, and not even uninteresting. It’s just so big it kills my desire to keep playing. Before I got the flying Icarus vehicle I would just want to rage quit when the objective marker was just three kilometers away. Getting that flying craft is the only thing that kept me sane, and it couldn’t even fly that high and was often buggy.
Driving is a pain in the ass, and makes any vehicle sections THE WORST. Also, driving made me strangely motion sick, something that is rare for me outside of VR. You can fast travel, but these fast travel points seem to be in the most useless locations, and far from anything you’d want to actually use them for.
There are technically things to do in the open world, like kill all bandits in a camp, or destroy all of the gas canisters in a camp, etc. But I never felt compelled to do more than a few of each of these activities before I had finished the main story.
And that’s another thing: I thought the game was building towards some next level evil until the story abruptly ends and I’m coldly told that, “even though the Authority is defeated, there’s more work out there for a Ranger to do” or some other garbage. No thanks.
While Rage 2 fails in a lot of aspects, it is absolutely brilliant as a shooter. The weapons are your standard mix of assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, rail gun, etc. But they’re all fun to use, and are a great lesson in sticking to the basics. Other weapons like the Grav Dart or the Incendiary Pistol could be fun, but mostly kept a back seat to the more tried-and-true methods of dispatching foes. Also, the rocket launcher seems massively overpowered. Not that I’m complaining.
Each weapon even has an alternate fire mode, and yet another fire mode when activating the powerful Overdrive ability, which allows you to gib enemies with increased damage, fire rate, and often a different weapon effect. Overdrive is massively fun, and makes you feel like a shooter god when used in the right circumstance.
Each weapon you possess is able to be upgraded, and through these upgrades you’re able to personalize their functionality a bit.
The enemies you fight are mostly interesting, though there really aren’t that many different types. There are the mutants and their variations, the Authority’s armless things, and the raider goons who all mostly look like the recently deceased lead singer of Prodigy. There are bandit factions with different aesthetics, but I wasn’t very invested in remembering them. You even fight some massive mutant enemies that absolutely tower over you.
Your character has access to more than just guns to dispatch his or her foes. There are powerful nanotrite abilities that allow you to slam down on foes from above and turn them into goop, or push all of their armor off with a Jedi-like push ability. These abilities are fun to incorporate into fighting off waves of enemies. These nanotrite abilities can also be upgraded, much the same way the weapons can be.
To give some insight into my review process, I tend to take notes while playing. This helps me capture whatever raw impression I might have of any title I’m working on. Here are some of the highlights from my Rage 2 notes:
“The story seems like utter garbage.” (Note: It was.)
“Gives off severe Borderlands 2 vibes, just without the fun, loot, or charisma”
“Wolfenstein and Doom managed interesting stories, both using vastly different storytelling methods, while also being highly stylized and unique among other shooters. Rage 2 does none of that successfully.”
I wanted so badly to like Rage 2. But there is too little good lost in a giant, boring open-world.
Rage 2 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows
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