When I played the first Rage game a few years ago there was one thing that stood out a mile, over and above anything else: the combat. While the story was a little thin and the travelling between bonkers fights tarnished the deal a little, those moments when you’d spend minutes at a time shooting loud, slightly-over-the-top-but-not-really guns at arrays of bad guys felt soooooo good. It was always those moments that you wanted more of.
Now, in Rage 2, it’s the same story. Awesome combat, amazing weapons, and fine-but-not-amazing everything else. Hmm.
The general idea of the game’s story is that a pile of cyborg mutants have come out of hiding to cause chaos and run their rule over the wasteland. You, a few helpers (one of which has an amazingly early death) and a stack of weaponry are all set to go and rid the land of these monsters and get any semblance of peace back. Along the way you’ll be clearing out enemy strongholds, carrying out missions for three different people and working your way through the upgrade tree to further bolster your already hefty firepower. And you’ll be travelling.
Oh, the travelling. Whether you’re walking for 5 minutes between two points on your map or jumping into a vehicle and trundling across the wilderness, there’s a fair bit of slow, featureless travelling going on. You can go for minutes without encountering anything dangerous, and while I suspect most of the bad guys would be hidden away in their camps you’d have thought that as part of good game design you’d have a few things to shoot at along the way. Because while there are the odd moments when you’ll be surprised by two or three roaming enemies, a lot of the time it’s just unwelcome downtime between the awesomeness of shooting stuff. Maybe it’s required, a break in the noise to let you gather your thoughts and appreciate the bullets even more. But when that’s the main draw of the game, it’d be nice to see more of it.
Two things that are great though are, as already mentioned, the weapons, but also some of the enemies. Heading underground through a series of tunnels I came face to face with a huge, house-sized beast that took a hell of a lot of shooting to finish off. It didn’t help that it filled most of the room we were in, so space to hide was non-existent. But it was brilliant, my heart was pounding by the end and through a solid headset the battle felt incredible, and that’s partly down to the weapons themselves. I’ve mentioned in the past (mostly likely in our Rage review) that id Software make the best shotguns. It was true in Doom, it was true in Quake, and it was true in Rage. It’s still true in Rage 2; I’ve no idea quite how they manage to make them so much more satisfying than anyone else, but it’s just one example of the amazing weapons available in Rage 2, and the main reason why the combat sections are so much fun.
So it’s a shame, then, that the story and the moments away from the action are so lightweight. A little less open-world and a little more action between missions or activities and Rage 2 could’ve been an unmissable game. As it is, it’s a decent enough game interspersed with some of the best shooting you’ll find in a game. Tricky to know whether to recommend it really, but it’s safe enough to say if you see it in a sale you should grab it and just enjoy the chaos for what it is.
Reviewed on PS4