If you, like myself, still haven’t received your full helping of post apocalyptic, Mad Max: Fury Road-styled goodness then look no further. Rage 2 is a George Miller-esque romp in the wasteland that is a much more violently vibrant take on the subgenre.
The first Rage is most notably known for its ending… or the entire lack of an there of. But, the devs behind this entry are fully aware of that fact and make up for it in a variety of ways, some even taking a meta approach. The good news is that you don’t have to have played the first game in order to jump into the action in Rage 2. For those folks that have played the first game, there are a couple of characters, locations and storylines that you might remember from the first game, but nothing significant.
In Rage 2 you are Walker, a Ranger of the wasteland. This an obvious and hilarious wink at the Chuck Norris character of Walker Texas Ranger and I’m one-hundred percent here for the homage. During the games first few minutes, your base is attacked by a powerful group known as the Authority. During the fight, the good guys are decimated. Walker takes it into his Ranger suit’s hands to take revenge on the Authority and to maintain some semblance of order in an insane landscape.
From there, you are introduced to the humongous open world. This part of the game felt a little bit overwhelming to me initially. Not because of the massive size of the sandbox, but because of the side missions and hidden locations that are constantly being piled, jumbled and squeezed in. I mean it gets intense. Each time you speak with a key NPC or drive by a point of interest on your journey, the game piles in yet another location marker on your map. This is all before I had become accustomed to the game, the world or the layout. It didn’t help that you are simultaneously learning the upgrade systems for your suits powers, your weapons and your vehicle.
From here the wasteland is your hyper-colored oyster. This means you are able to take on enemy camps, roadblocks, treasure hunt, race, bounty hunt, dungeon dwell and more. Oh, and of course you are able to follow the games central narrative which involves visiting key leaders on the map to assemble something known as “Project Dagger” to take down the Authority.
The combo of the powers behind Avalanche Studio and id Software assemble to bring a vast and very sharp looking representation of a post apocalyptic wasteland. In addition, there is amazing kinetic Doom-styled approach to a magnitude of rather badass combat.
The combat is fast paced, exciting and filled with satisfying amounts of gore. Stringing and mixing attack tactics with your suits nanotrite abilities and a vast arsenal of weapons (that includes the BFG 9000) is something that is a complete blast. THIS is why video games were created. The addition of second hand weapons like grenades and the upgradeable wingstick (a wink at the Glaive from Krull) just adds to an already heightened amount of pure fun.
Stringing these attacks together assists in building up combo points that make up your overdrive meter. Once filled your overdrive meter launches you and your nanotrite suit and weapon abilities into the next level by allowing complete chaotic carnage, in a berserker styled series of attacks. This gives each of your weapons an ability that they were previously unable to accomplish. For example the shotgun can take out multiple enemies with a single shot.
I wasn’t a fan of this games beginnings. I was ready for a lot of punk rock attitude that the marketing promised and it just begins with a bubble gum pop sort of feel. Not to mention the story that kicks this whole thing off is definitely territory games have tread more than a few times. That is all to say that the game does get a heck of a lot better and does keep its promise on the hardcore punk rock aspect of what we had seen at last years E3 and in subsequent game trailers. It’s just a bit of a wait getting there.
There is a whole lot of upgrading to do here too. These mods are made through usage of weapon mods and schematics that can be found in the world or purchased at shops. The biggest and most rewarding modifications are applied to your Ranger suit. These offer alterations that give additional and exciting dance steps to assist in stringing together insane combo locos. Much like the open world that is initially shoved in your face, the upgrade system can be a bit daunting at firs as well. My advice is to just have fun playing around with your shop purchases and mods. It feels like much more of an experiment than it should, but there is also something fun to be had in that experimental gaming alchemy.
The biggest and most blaring negative for Rage 2 comes with its approach to driving mechanics. There are a whole bunch of really cool Road Warrior looking vehicles that make up the landscape and you can drive them all. It’s extremely unfortunate that the driving doesn’t have weight in it. The meatiness of the Mad Max game’s driving is severely lacking in Rage 2. I can totally dig taking a new approach, but the driving ends up feeling less than exciting and more of a repetitive task to get from place to place instead of something you am excited about doing. The controls for driving are not tight at all and need a complete overhaul from the ground up. Perhaps similar to The Witcher III and its initial atrocious horse riding mechanics, the team of devs can patch up some better driving mechanics. But for now, its pretty bad.
In addition, the folks you work with in the world as well as the bad guys kinda just end up feeling half realized. Leaving certain story missions feeling a bit empty and not very rewarding. Although, much like with Just Cause and Doom, I really believe that these aspects weren’t the focus. I feel like the approach intentionally preferred the stripped down minute-and-thirty-seconds punk song to an orchestrated ballad and due to its insane action, it gets a pass.
Rage 2 has more than a few similarities with previous open world shooters but where it really shines is in its neon-color coated insane world aesthetics, as well as its masterfully inventive and fun approach to combat. What might begin as an everyday open world FPS ends up being a rad experience in gory, over the top action that is on par with Doom and Wolfenstein. With a heck of a lot to do outside of the story mission and a roadmap of DLC already announced, Rage 2 is worth the gaming anarchy that it brings to the mindlessly-fun, bullet spraying table.