Happy Weekend TAY!
Well, winter finally seems to have settled in for a long stay. We have over two feet of snow in my yard and it looks as if it is going to keep coming for a while. Things were bad on Thursday with road and school closures, but it feels like a bit of an overreaction. Every year people always seem surprised at the amount of snow and lose their minds (and forget how to drive). I live in a ski area in Canada, you’d think people would remember what snow was like...it comes every year around the same time. Oh well, now that it is here, we can all settle down into winter life and remember how this season works.
Last week I plodded on with my game of Rage 2 and while my harsh initial opinion of it has continued to soften a little, I’m still not having the best of times.
Rage 2’s main offence (aside from the pervasive enemy AI stupidity) is that it is often boring and repetitive. Open-world games have this problem in general, so Rage 2 isn’t standing out in a crowd. However, since id Software decided to slap their name on this product, boredom is not a state I should be experiencing given the amazing time I’ve had with their past titles.
Rage 2 is extremely samey with only around a dozen mission types that lose their sparkle after the fifth time through them. As with other open-world games, if you are willing to grind early, you’ll quickly reach that plateau where your powers and skills are high enough that the game’s difficulty falls off. You go from desperate to god-like in rather a quick span of time in Rage 2 and it reminds me of the difficulty and power-balancing issues in games like the recent Far Cry titles.
A Far Cry game is what Rage 2 reminds me of the most, though that’s likely due to the limited number of open-world games offering a first-person perspective. However, the map and mission structure in Rage 2 feels similar to something like the Far Cry series, as does the upgrade system. I prefer Rage 2’s upgrade system as it allows the player more customization for personal playstyles than usually found in most shooters. As Rage 2 has a limited number of weapons compared to most games, it is nice the upgrade system is large enough to keep the weapons feeling fresh for quite a while. I also appreciate that Rage 2 seems to dole out the weaponry at a much better pace than most games (I still don’t have a sniper rifle). Each new weapon really does feel like a new toy complete with its own upgrade tree.
“Nanotrite” ability upgrades superpowers are also lots of fun and remind me fondly of Crysis in many ways. Rage 2 controls quite well and if the AI weren’t so dense (or broken), I think the combat could have been something special. Instead, everything feels somewhat dull and unexciting.
In the Far Cry series, when the action stalls a little and you feel as if you are doing too much of the same sort of thing over and over, you are at least driven forward by the stellar acting and incredible storytelling.
Not so with Rage 2. While there seems to be a sharp increase in the amount of story in Rage 2 compared to past id Software titles, “quality storytelling” isn’t a term I would use to describe this game. The actors seem fine, but the dialogue isn’t interesting and I’m never led to care about any of the characters who make up this silly world.
Rage 2 is one of those games that feels a little like a chore to start up and play, but once I’m back in the saddle, the cool control mechanics are almost enough to keep me entertained. It’s a shame really, I think with some serious work on the vehicles, story, and the AI that Rage 2 could have been something quite cool. I wonder if Avalanche will get another kick at the Rage-can to see if they can improve their formula or if the lacklustre reviews and sales will see the series return to limbo.
I’m helping my kid study for a science quiz this weekend and I’m starting to gear up for all the visitors during the holiday and birthday season (for my kid). I’d like to put more time into Rage 2 if I can as I want to get it out of the way before the holiday-busyness begins in earnest. I was hoping to make December into “DLC December” for polishing off DLC for some of my favourite games, but that doesn’t seem like a realistic goal now.
So, what are you playing this weekend?