In 2010, id Software, the video game studio behind classic first-person shooters such as Doom, Quake, and Wolfenstein, released Rage. While the game received praise for its combat mechanics, it was criticized for being bland and uninspired with its story and setting, which  took elements from games such as Fallout and did nothing new with them. As time went on, Rage was forgotten about and dismissed as a footnote in id Software’s history. Since then, the studio has undergone a resurgence of popularity with their reboots of Doom and Wolfenstein. With this newfound success, they decided to give Rage a sequel. Partnering with Avalanche Studios, the developers behind the vastly underrated Mad Max game, id Software developed Rage 2, which has proven to be a fun, chaotic experience.

Gorgeous world bogged down by lame story

Image from Steam

Rage 2 takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, where civilization collapsed after an asteroid struck the Earth and turned it into a wasteland. Set 30 years after the original game, the sequel follows Walker, a member of a group of soldiers known as the Rangers that fight injustice in the wastelands. However, things quickly go to hell in a handbasket when the Ranger’s base is attacked by the Authority, a tyrannical group of former U.S. Military personnel led by the cyborg General Cross. Walker is now one of the last Rangers remaining after the attack and must unite various factions throughout the wasteland in order to take down the Authority once and for all.

In spite of the basic premise sounding exciting and interesting, the game’s overall story is rather dull. Most of the game’s main story quests feel more like a series of side quests done to increase Walker’s reputation with a faction. There are no big story quests where the player encounters the main villain, like in a Far Cry game. Outside of the game’s opening, General Cross appears only two more times, and one of those times is in the ending. Not helping the story are the rather uninteresting characters. Ranging from Walker himself to faction leaders such as John Marshall and Loosum Hagar, they have some semblance of their own personalities and characteristics. However, none of them are particularly fleshed out, and nothing particularly stands out about them. Add in the short five hour completion time of the main story quest, and it leaves much to be desired.

Image from Steam

However, the world that the game inhabits is simply beautiful and colorful. In the first Rage game, the color palette of the environment was primarily brown and tan colors. While it captured how the post-apocalyptic world is now just a broken husk, it was ugly and bland to look at. In contrast, Rage 2 is full of color and varied environments. Everything in the game, from vehicles and weapons to buildings, is decorated with neon colors, primarily hot pink. The use of these colors makes the world stand out and gives it more energy than its predecessor.

The game also boasts a wide set of different environments, especially in comparison to the first game. Areas found on the map include the rocky, dry canyons of the first game, marshy wetlands, sandy desert dunes that stretch for miles, and difficult-to-navigate mountains ranges. Each of these environments is highly-detailed and amazing to look at. They are a treat for the player to explore.

Creative, exhilarating gameplay

Where Rage 2 really shines is in its combat gameplay. It takes inspiration from both the 2016 Doom reboot with its gunplay, and the Mad Max game with its vehicular combat. The combat is very fast-paced, with the player having to constantly move to stay alive. Walker has access to a variety of different weapons, including standard first-person shooter staples, such as a pistol, assault rifle, and shotgun. However, there are several special weapons that are fun to use. Standouts among these include the Firestorm Revolver, which fires incendiary rounds that sets enemies on fire, and the Grav Dart launcher, which is capable of sending enemies flying. The unique weapons provide different and interesting ways to take out enemies.

In additions to the weapons, Walker is granted various powers through his Ranger suit. Aside from a double jump and a dash function, the suit gives him four impressive offensive powers. These are Shatter, Slam, Vortex, and Barrier. Shatter is a blast of kinetic energy launched from his hands. Slam lets Walker jump into the air and punch down, creating a shockwave that can sweep enemies off their feet. Vortex makes a singularity that drags enemies in before spitting them out. Barrier, like its name suggests, can create a wall to protect Walker from incoming fire. The combination of the interesting and different weapons as well as the powers leads to interesting and creative combat, letting the player come up with different ways of killing enemies.

Image from Steam

Players can see Avalanche Studios’ thumbprint in the game with its vehicular combat, which is similar to their Mad Max game, but improves upon what Mad Max brought to the table. Walker has a wide variety of transportation in game, ranging from motorcycles to monster trucks. They are usually obtained by stealing enemy vehicles and storing them at garages in various cities. However, Walker’s main mode of transportation is the Phoenix, a heavily armored car. Featuring a rocket boost and a variety of armaments like miniguns and mortars, the Phoenix is exhilarating and a blast to use. Hunting down and taking out enemy convoys with the Phoenix is every bit as fun as the gunplay.

However, there is not much in the way of side content within the game. The only two things that particularly stand out are Car Racing and Mutant Bash TV. The racing aspect is incredibly frustrating, as the player is provided with a car that’s difficult to maneuver. However, Mutant Bash TV is a fun little minigame. In it, the player goes through a gauntlet of four waves of enemies, earning points for how creative their kills are. It encapsulates all of the strengths of Rage 2 in one little section.

Featured Image: Bethesda

Images: Steam

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