Platform: PlayStation 4
Time played: 18 hours
Infused with the DNA of iD Software’s Doom and Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max, we have the first-person open-world shooter Rage 2. Set in the year 2165 (30 years after the original outing), players take control of sole survivor Ranger Walker who must traverse the apocalyptic wasteland to form alliances with three survivor leaders, so that together they can take down the ruthless military known as the Authority.
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.
The cast of characters met in the completely single-player outing are entertaining throughout, bringing their own brief backstory but never outstaying their welcome. Neil Ross’s performance as Dr. Kvasir in particular is both hilarious and disturbing. It would have been great to see more from Walker’s best friend Lily Prowley, as after her memorable introduction she barely makes an appearance. When compared with Walker’s one note behavior and blasé approach to every situation, I’d be lying if there wasn’t a part of us that wanted to see Lily in the lead role.
Zaniness turned up to 11
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.
Having been destroyed by asteroid 99942 Apophis in the year 2029, some 136 years later, civilization has begun to rebuild itself. Regions are split into six territories giving slight altercation on the apocalyptic look. Of these, you can expect the swamp-like Sekreto Wetlands and jungle-inspired Wilds, which help change things up from open plains of desert and stretching canyons.
Wasteland by name, wasteland by nature. Yes, the map is heavily baron at times, with vehicles a must if players want any hope of getting anywhere in good time. Thankfully, this is where Rage shines as its combination of gunplay and set of souped-up automobiles create some of the smoothest and most outrageous combat available.
When set out into the bleak planet, Walker is gifted the Phoenix, the main combat vehicle of the Vineland rangers. Along with the RPG upgrade mechanics built into it, the four-by-four arrives with its own sassy satnav, turning every adventure into an episode of Knight Rider. What more could you want?
Saying this, once the gyrocopter (known as Icarus) is unlocked, opting for anything else in terms of travel felt lesser. Competitive races were a surprising heart-pulsing delight that could have been pulled from a MotorStorm title, if not for a tweak or two.
Of the nine weapons, none felt as gratifying as the Combat Shotgun. Enhancing this mutant killing machine helped rain down destruction on anyone foolish enough to step up. Racking up combos became a breeze before launching into Overdrive, turning Walker into an unstoppable army of one ever so briefly. Lessons learned from id Software’s Doom were clearly a big part of the mechanics and for that we’re thankful.
- Rage 2 cheats: how to find the Wasteland Wizard and purchase cheat codes
Alongside the extensive arsenal of weapons, Walker can gain access to Nanotrites, effectively giving him/her superpowers. All of these can be found in Arks spread out across the planet. From super speed to kinetic blasts to vortexes, each is inventive while never giving the player too much of an advantage.
Slam and Shatter specifically give the biggest oomph because of how combat rewards anarchy instead of the often found ‘firing and ducking for cover’ method seen in many shooters. Another ability worth investing in is Defibrillation, allowing players to recover from death for a second-chance swing at the action. It’s also handy not returning to checkpoints constantly.
Rolling credits will take approximately 12 hours if users stick to the story. At this point, we had acquired 10 out of 11 Nanotrites but only four of the weapons. One of these was the Smart Rocket Launcher that made boss battles effortless, resorting in a higher difficulty choice being opted for to keep things interesting. Those that love a challenge will revel at the Nightmare setting, pushing player’s skills to the absolute limit.
Repetitive side missions
Once the main story is done and dusted, apart from gathering all of the remaining power ups and weapons, there’s little on offer to keep players returning. Nearly 20 hours in and regrettably side missions have become awfully monotonous in what is essentially fetch quests with killing. The story is reasonably guilty of this too but change the dynamic enough to keep us invested. Funnily enough, Walker made reference to the similarity of his missions in a conversation with Dr. Kvasir, suggesting the developers are fully aware.
Music comes in dribs and drabs making impact with rock riffs in vehicle combat chases or shooting sprees, though for the most part resides in the background of the wilderness. A special mention has to be given to the Danny Dyer commentary voice pack, still we’re not sure if it’s ridiculous or brilliant - probably the latter.
There are also a few minor gripes that need to be brought up. Fast travel is limited to three Trade Towns and players must be stood exactly next to a vehicle to access this. The UI is sluggish and the camera can sporadically become quite disorienting (vehicles more than anything else, suffer from this) presenting a warning for those who struggle with motion sickness. None of these were continual in the playthrough, yet it’s worthy of a mention.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t take away from what an enjoyable and solid experience Rage 2 is. It’s also a testament that possessing no knowledge of the first game, works in the follow ups benefit. Every new Nanotrite introduced shakes up combat, while every new weapon adds another dosage of extreme action that carries right through the conclusion. All of this combined, made smashing the teeth out of every raving Wastelander damn enjoyable.
- Rage 2 Arks: all locations, weapons and abilities
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.
(Image credits: id Software)