Review : Rage 2

Rage 2, the new open-world shooter from Avalanche Studios and id Software, starts slowly and predictably. A wilderness outpost is attacked by an old enemy; a mentor is dead and the veneer of civilization is shattered. Pick up that suit of armor, young hero, pick up that gun. It’s time to go hunting for some chaos, and some revenge.Rage’s hybrid of action-packed gunfights and open-world driving took five years to create and felt out-of-date when it launched. Nine years on, Rage 2 is eerily similar. The world is bigger and the action better, but id’s post-apocalypse is still playing catch-up with superior games.

But although that’s not strictly true, since an open world can be used for any number of different game styles, it hardly seems worth arguing about, given that whenever somebody talks about an open world title today they’re invariably describing one using the Ubisoft/Sony formula, itself derived from Grand Theft Auto III. An open world should offer an infinite range of possibilities in terms of gameplay and visuals and yet everything about Rage 2, both good and bad, is strangely familiar.t’s hard to imagine many came away from the game dying to know what happened next. But alas, here we are, and Rage 2 is a video game you can play right now. It’s not an especially original one, either. It’s like a grab bag of existing open-world concepts, fused with some excellent Doom-style gunplay and a set in a slightly more colorful take on Mad Max.Heading up the rogue forces is the warmongering General Cross who, after seemingly being killed at the end of the first game, returns in a new robotic body ready to unleash his legion of mutants and destroy all that oppose him – you know, that traditional bad guy mantra.

It’s best not to think about any of this too hard; the setup and mainline missions are just a thin excuse to justify my magical powers and array of weapons and send me off into the open world. The game would clearly rather I spend my time slaughtering mutants, collecting various currencies, and upgrading my soldier to god-like status. I can power up each gun, vehicle, ability, and secondary item like grenades or health packs using one of the game’s many tech trees, and then modify them again using a second series of menus that are strangely hidden behind the first.That’s not to say it isn’t incredibly good fun, of course. Rage 2 is never better than when you’re stomping through a bandit den or mutant nest, hurling enemies into the air as you quick-dash and pump them full of lead, flicking between grenades and wingsticks and drones to mete out maximum damage in-between explosive bursts of Overdrive, your ultimate ability. You’ll rarely run out of ammo which means you can let loose with gleeful abandon, particularly as you upgrade your armoury and throwables.There aren’t traditional levels, and there are very few missions. Each challenge basically requires me to drive to a specific place, kill the people there, collect currencies and items from various crates, and grow in power. Rage 2 is ostensibly an open-world game, but upgrades and weapons are given out at specific locations, and trying to explore by driving off the indicated path between each outpost is futile.

The world itself is home to an unusual bunch of miscreants that wouldn’t be out of place in the likes of Fallout or Far Cry. Although, for a lot of these lunatics, the zaniness has been turned up to 11, which is fantastic as each encounter feels fresh and madder than the last. It’s just a shame as these meetings are unlikely to take place outside of specific towns and neighboring zones. I definitely can’t tell you how it connects to the original. It’s set in a vast wasteland, one filled with all kinds of dangerous groups to contend with. There are mutants, raider gangs, and the big baddies, a mysterious group known as the Authority. You play as a ranger, a sort of post-apocalyptic guardian with a suit that gives you all sorts of cool powers. You also happen to be the last of your kind, which means everybody needs your help.Breath of the Wild manages this trick, extending a game that is, essentially, four story missions and a boss fight into a several-dozen-hour experience by virtue of how complex and charming its space is to explore. Moving through the world takes time, and you get distracted, and you realize that you need to be stronger, so you spend a few hours searching for upgrades, and so on and so forth until before you know it, Ganon is still out there and you’ve spent a hundred hours running through fields.

Verdict

It’s a poignant, potent vignette that says so much about Rage 2’s war-torn world in ways pink paint and crude graffiti never could; oh, how I wish there’d been more of those intelligent insights to support its bloody, brilliant – and bloody brilliant – combat.Rage 2 is enjoyable as long as I make the effort to do very simple things in the silliest ways possible, and game’s many systems reward this style of play more by their quality than by any extrinsic payoff.Rage 2’s main storyline is an enjoyable and chaotic experience full out madcap characters and fast-paced combat but, outside of this, the first person shooter struggles with replayability and doesn’t offer the player much in terms of side missions and challenges to keep things interesting.