RAGE series has a fascinating history. When it first debuted on the PS3 and Xbox 360, it was the talk of the town due to its new rendering technology that helped stream high-quality assets with a higher frame rate. This technology was possible thanks to advances made with the new id Tech game engine. As a result, this open world first-person shooter was born that attempted to push technology on consoles. It was a mixed result that showed potential but ultimately failed to deliver on it.
RAGE 2 is out after almost 8 years when the first game launched on the last generation consoles. It is no longer using id Tech engine and instead, Avalanche Studios has taken the mantle here and brought their own Apex Engine. This engine can offer 60 FPS on PS4 Pro and Xbox One X but if you own the base consoles, there is no support for a high frame rate and it locks down to 30 FPS. This high frame rate matters a lot in RAGE 2 after having played the game mostly on a PS4 Pro, it feels hard to go back to a regular PS4.
RAGE 2 story structure is laid out in such a way that it is a good enough point to jump in whether you have played the first game or ignored it altogether. The lead character is a ranger and has been given some customization options where the player can tweak its gender and abilities. Set after 30 years of the events in the first game, almost every aspect of the story is different now but you will be able to recognize some of the characters and returning locations. The overarching narrative of the story fails at captivating the audience making it a giant fetch quest instead of offering missions that advance the character development.
RAGE 2 is a set in a post-apocalyptic world giving it a huge Mad Max vibes. This vibe gets shown rather well with the various vehicles that you can drive in the game. Most of these are gradually unlocked. Your character can also steal and drive any of the enemy vehicles that comes their way, thus giving the freedom to explore this open world. Despite that, the vehicle combat doesn’t feel satisfactory and the upgrade system that ties it down makes it so you won’t enjoy most of the combat encounters until you have a good chunk of important upgrades installed on your vehicle.
After waiting so long to release a sequel, does RAGE 2 still matters today? To answer this question, let’s talk about the gameplay first. RAGE 2 offers traditional first-person shooter combat. It is highly polished though with a shooting system that is satisfying to use, and pleasing to look at in action. RAGE 2 seems simple enough when you start but as you make your way through the messy story, your character gets more powerful, starts gaining new abilities and skills, and finds better weapons. The progression system for the character upgrades is decent but it feels a little flawed because of the optional content located all across the world map.
RAGE 2 appears like a massive open world game when you begin your quest. As you finish the opening prologue and get your first vehicle, it feels overwhelming. The open world map is full of checkpoints to visit, uncovered secrets to discover, and you feel the excitement in the air as you take a look at what is unlocked from there. After spending a few hours in this world, it becomes clear that there is not much to do aside from repeat a bunch of specific tasks that unfortunately don’t offer much diversity with the enemy and combat encounters.
Weapons are one of the strengths of RAGE 2 and almost everything in the game has customization added to it. You can upgrade vehicles, abilities for your characters, skills, and so much more. The issue though is that there are multiple collectibles usually needed for the upgrades which can make the system a little too complex and feel bloated. The customization is rather deep letting you decide what kind of attributes you want for your character. It makes you have second thoughts on each upgrade so that you can pick wisely due to the limited resources.
The gameplay is where RAGE 2 manages to shine through with its depth in combat. You have multiple weapons with their own customization, throwables like grenades or the stylish wingstick, abilities that offer buffs or other status upgrades, and finally, skills providing mobility, offensive or defensive options during combat. All of this is comes together beautifully in RAGE 2 making each combat encounter exciting even if the enemy variety and AI are rather bland. Nanotrites are the main source of power letting you unlock and upgrades the various tools of the trade like skills and weapons.
One of the weird design choices that are obvious from the beginning is how the game attempts to guide and hold your hands in every moment. If you unlock a new skill, it immediately drops you in a tutorial arena to explain and test the new abilities. This happens so many times that finding skills becomes a chore instead of something exciting to look forward to in the game. Exploration is usually exciting but it feels the opposite in RAGE 2. Every point of interest that you can find on the map just offers a checklist of collectibles when you approach them, and to top it off, the treasure boxes that you can collect are hard to spot due to their design choice which makes them similar to a regular box.
If you are looking for a solid open world shooter with a tightly focused narrative, RAGE 2 is not the game here. It has a great combat system but with some frustrating flaws holding back its full potential. If RAGE 2 had the same setup as DOOM or a better and more engaging open world, it would have fared a lot better.
RAGE 2 Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Rage 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Avalanche Studios in conjunction with id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game is the sequel to the 2011 game Rage. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on May 14, 2019.
Final Score - 7.5/107.5/10
RAGE 2 offers an incredibly stylish and pleasing combat system with a variety of weapons and skills, but the open world traversal and a disappointing story make it a less than stellar experience.