It’s been almost eight years since id Software released the first Rage. Met with cries of mediocrity, it’s a shock that the post-apocalyptic shooter was deemed worthy of a sequel. So can Rage 2 rectify the faults of its predecessor, or will it fall into the same category of “good ideas – poor execution”?
Well it’s safe to say that there are some clear improvements with Rage 2, most obvious of which is the excellent gunplay. It’s obvious that developers Avalanche have leant heavily on the mechanics which made 2016’s Doom such a success. There’s a huge arsenal of weapons and traversal abilities at your disposal which, when combined with equipment like turrets and your trusty wingstick, make for varied dynamic combat. It’s quick, fluid, and tons of fun! This core experience is Rage 2’s true strength; the caveat is that everything else about the game feels very lacklustre in comparison.
Let’s start with the story. Players take control of Ranger Walker, your generic slab of super suited soldier tasked with saving the world as we know it. They’ll be able to choose Walker’s gender but sadly, neither option will detract from a drab personality, lame motivation and bored voice acting. The overall plot and supporting are equally uninteresting. Attempts to be humorous and unique often instead lean more towards cringey than entertaining. In a world where games like Fallout and Borderlands offer such distinct depictions of destroyed wildlands, Rage 2’s watered down, and tonally confused version simply doesn’t cut the mustard for a AAA title.
These same shortcomings can be said of the now fully open world. Although splashes of neon purple and green attempt to provide some vibrancy to the otherwise plain palette, a fresh lick of paint isn’t nearly enough to cover the cracks. The world is boring, both visually and in terms of content. There’s plenty to do but it’s all very samey. Go here, kills these guys, collect this, rinse, repeat. Again, when we have immersive, lifelike worlds like those seen in Breath of the Wild and Red Dead Redemption, simplistic point-to-point exploration like this feels incredibly dated and unenticing. If not for the promise of more baddies to shoot, there’d be zero motivation to search out this characterless map.
Getting to these places isn’t particularly stimulating either. The revamped vehicle combat in Rage 2 is slightly more enticing than its predecessor, but still dull compared to the sheer chaotic joy of the on-foot segments. It’s much more Mild Max than Mad. On top of all this is a plethora of semi-regular glitches. Textures popping in, sound distortion, character clipping, the full shebang!
All these faults feel like they serve no purpose other than to act as a showcase for the genuinely fantastic shooting. Whilst Rage 2 does a lot right, it does far too much wrong. A brilliant FPS delivered in a fairly naff package.