Release Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Bethesda
ESRB Rating: Mature

When it comes to emotions, rage isn’t typically one that I associate with myself. All in all, I’m just a pretty laid back kind of guy. Sure, I get angry at drivers who go a bit too slow or babies that just will not let up (we get it, you’re hungry!). But, I’ve never experienced what it’s like to have real life, honest-to-god rage.

When I heard about a game for the PS3 and XBox called Rage, immediately my ears perked up. As far as titles go, Rage sounds somewhat uninspired. It might as well be called something like Anger, say, or Irritability. As a fan of science fiction and horror games, I thought Rage looked like it might be worth my time.

When I first started playing, I noticed how similar it felt to other wasteland games like the recent Fallout entries and Borderlands. It really does feel almost like a hybrid of the two. The graphics on the game are impressive, presenting you with sprawling reaches of dusty desert and ruined cityscapes. To me, the visuals are one of the most interesting aspects of the game. You should definitely see this on a bigger HDTV.

The settings are pretty varied. Like I said, you get the ubiquitous desert and city elements, but they’re done in a way feels a bit more detailed than in the Fallout games, and more interesting than in Borderlands. I did have one gripe about the settings, though. Coming from the world of Fallout, I’m used to being able to explore pretty much at my leisure. If I want to risk falling off a cliff side, I will, thank you very much. Here, you’re pretty much set on a track when entering specialized environments. You’re guided along from one enemy fight to the next. It’s not a huge hindrance to the game, but I did want a bit more freedom.

While you may not have as uninhibited an ability to explore here as you do in the Fallout titles, Rage does incorporate a racing element to make up for it. Now, normally I’m not much of a believer that vehicle elements of any kind are much good for a first-person shooter. The games that try to incorporate them usually end up failing pretty miserably. I don’t think it’s that much different here. The driving elements (transporting supplies from one character to another, racing to earn credits for upgrades, etc.) feel a bit better handled than in other titles, but they don’t stand out enough to really go above and beyond. There’s nothing more irritating than being forced to race and having your vehicle try to awkwardly turn around or get stuck on part of the map where vehicles aren’t supposed to go.

Usually these types of Fallout-esque shooters are notorious for their lack of good voice acting. It’s hard to believe you’re struggling for your life in an apocalyptic wasteland when the people around you sound like cartoon characters. In Rage, though, we do get a couple of recognizable voices that help to ratchet up the quality a few notches. People like Phil LaMarr and Claudia Black make appearances, but the most surprising one to me was hearing John Goodman’s gruff voice early on in the game. It’s oddly surreal to hear Dan Connor giving you instructions to drive an ATV to fight off some mutants, but then again there were some strange episodes of Roseanne.

I hate to keep making comparisons to Fallout, but one of the things I missed most in Rage was an autosave system. I guess I’m spoiled to think that I shouldn’t have to save my own game, but when I faced off against a rush of enemies (who were, at times, about as unintelligent as the rocks they were ducking behind) and ended up getting myself in over my head, my jaw dropped when I died and wound up at the very beginning of that area.

Still, Rage is a pretty good game, in all honesty. It is worth a look. With stunning visuals and an interesting mix of environments, the game is at least fun to play. Sure, there are a few things that could stand to be a little stronger, but when it comes to things that make me angry, there’s very little here that actually gets me to cross that line. Even the racing isn’t all that horrendous, and enemies who didn’t make the honor roll are sort of forgivable if they have the chance to get blowed up good.

I do hate that save system, though. Not even John Goodman can make up for that.