Rage 2 arrived on the video game scene at a particular time, when the shooting games are many, quite varied and each of them proudly flags those distinctive features that have become iconic over the years. For this reason, probably, the expectations around the production of Bethesda, daughter of a solid collaboration between Avalanche Studios and Id Software, has passed perhaps – unjustly – too muted, fate if we want to be similar to that of the first chapter of the saga, of which this new episode is a sort of spiritual follow-up and not direct. Let’s make one fundamental thing immediately clear: if you didn’t play the first Rage you won’t be hungry for notions about the game world, since everything is perfectly contextualized to current events, leaving you to enter without problems into a plot that, to tell the truth, will never be the pivotal point – and I didn’t expect it to be – of the production.
It’s important to underline this concept in the review because, despite its cationic and crazy nature, Rage 2 brings to the stage a very intimate imaginary – though not fully original – and it does so with great style, making personality exude from every pore. We are not dealing with a perfect product, let’s be clear, but the sensations felt after each game session, twisted in an endless loop of exploration, destruction and addiction, are really important ones. Glory to those who have decided to put together such a fun, satisfying and never frustrating play formula, net of all the shortcomings in terms of innovation. For that, there will be time.
Pink it’s my new obsession
Rage 2 is a title – and it could not be otherwise – then immediately starts in a thousand, “guns flattened”, immediately making it clear which direction has been taken in the development phase. ID Software and Avalanche Studios have pulled on a frantic and rewarding shooter, and this can be seen from the very first session of the game, a sort of giant tutorial also used to bring the narrative incipit on the screen. The Authority, the now old enemy of the human race, is back and wants to sweep away from the face of the Earth the lower homo sapiens remained for the purpose of an inevitable, from its point of view, the evolution of the species. As one of the inhabitants of one of the strongholds of men – selectable between male and female – and generically renamed as “Walker”, our mission will be to come out unscathed from the assault of the fortress, even by the hand of the leader of the Authority himself, General Cross, considered dead and buried for a long time. The epilogue of this dramatic beginning is a fundamental watershed for all the narration, which is readily established on a precise track but, immediately after, shows how essential it is to leave the player when and how to want to reach their goal.
The first part of the game is immediately concerned – and so much – to want to make things clear: Rage 2 is an open world in the strict sense of the word, in which – if you exclude the very first hours of play a little more “addressed” – you can progress in the way you want, without ever forgetting to have a kind of macro objective always present. Which one? Defeat the Authority, of course, but to do so the young Walker needs good allies. Initially, then, your main mission in that of Rage 2 will be to recruit these fundamental characters who, to offer their services, will ask you to do something in return for them. Here the doors open wide to what is a resounding product in terms of density, fun and spectacle, able to keep you glued to the screen seamlessly.
Rebuilding to distribute
In Rage 2, without forgetting that the pulsing vein of the title is the gunplay (which we will go into later), it is impossible not to appreciate the strong nuance of “role” that dirties the forms of production, whose role becomes vital already in the very first bars. Bethesda’s work is an explosive concentration of activities to be carried out – discreetly differentiated from each other, but you don’t expect miracles – and above all, it inspires a strong “grinding”, necessary (but never compulsory) to strengthen you’re alter ego. Everything is upgradeable, including the various vehicles with which to deal with the threatening lands of the equally threatening game world, but not only: crafting is fairly important in the economy of the title – though not very elaborate – and, above all, the developers have decided to give great importance to the exploration factor. Going around the map, excluding the main points of interest, which can be “revealed” thanks to the discovery – therefore never an end in itself – of data pads (erroneously considered as simple “collectibles”) or talking with the many NPCs in the cities / places, you can find many places “unknown”, indicated with a question mark, which can often represent additional missions for one of the three factions present.
Basically, these represent the different missions that can be tackled in Rage 2: the activities to be carried out for the good Marshall usually consist in freeing outposts or take out bands of enemies, those of Hagar in the destruction of vehicles scattered around the world and the dreaded Sentinels of the Authority, while, finally, those of the odd Dr. Kavisr consist in the discovery of elements such as feltrite (necessary for many upgrades) and, above all, the Arch. The latter are the highest point of exploration: finding and exploring them will unlock new skills and equip new weapons, resulting in fundamental and almost mandatory from the first minutes of play.
And here, however, something breaks. Being first of all an open world, it is impossible not to be disappointed by the excessive repetitiveness of most of the underlying activities but, above all, the limited overall longevity of the main campaign. Everything, however, shares the same heart: the gameplay first of all. Net of this clarification, it’s nice to emphasize how the developers have made it necessary, but without constraints, the performance of these tasks. Completing the requests, in fact, you can unlock many advantages, purchased with a particular currency obtainable at the end of one of the missions. A system varied but simplistic, then, but necessary for a simpler continuation and layered within the story. In some cases it will be necessary to carry out a precise number of activities (all characterized by a level of difficulty indicated with a figure ranging from 1 to 10) to be able to continue with the plot. A hidden “forcing” and not at all invasive, but still necessary to get to the decisive clashes, especially with the (few) bosses on duty, which could create a few headaches too, in case you do not necessarily get there prepared. And even more sorry, in the light of these more than appreciable choices, note the general paucity that grips the game world, sometimes too empty, for the genre.
One word: violence!
We’ve already said it several times: although it’s heavily surrounded by well-defined role-playing mechanics, the soul of Rage 2 is clearly to be found in the gameplay and, above all, in the gunplay. No matter what mission you’re facing, no matter at what point in the – honestly disappointing in terms of longevity, which can be concluded in fifteen hours – main campaign you’ve arrived: the engine of the game will always be that of destruction, the destruction of hordes of enemies increasingly bloodthirsty. The shootings, their own, are absolutely the central aspect of production. And they work great. Rage 2 is therefore supported by gameplay as solid as fun, in which the various innate abilities of the protagonist (unlockable thanks to the findings of the Arch) are perfectly combined with the song of the various mouths of fire within the title.
The total number of them, although not miraculous (even the weapons can be found by exploring the arches), is perfectly balanced by a variety and feedback of the same really satisfactory, in addition to the speech “strengthening” that once again returns with enthusiasm on the scene. Each of the weapons presents, in fact, will be upgradable, both in power and other features “base”, both in terms of types of ammunition used and added balistche various, thus making it, even more, marked the differentiation between a weapon and the other. This solution was inherited from the last Doom, the reboot arrived in 2015, which inspired the title a lot from a strictly recreational point of view.
Such gaming beauty, however, is not without problems of any kind. The first, the most important, is that of the enemy artificial intelligence, in truth all too static and sometimes almost deficient. The opponents (for this reason we recommend you to play at a higher difficulty level) will only be able to worry if in sound numerical superiority since their movements, choices and attitudes on the battlefield often and willingly turn out to be a resounding hole in the water. The enemies will hardly encircle you or try to catch you off guard, resulting in almost annoyingly “correct” in their attitudes. Some enemies, of course, are clearly more difficult than others but, basically, the rate of challenge offered at the lower difficulty levels – but also at the higher ones – is definitely calibrated downwards. An understandable choice, which perhaps tries to focus more on the gameplay in the wake of the genuine and almost orgasmic fun of breaking up waves of monsters – between explosions and various automatic turrets – without having to worry so much about their health, but that will not make everyone happy. We’re sorry, however, to witness such a situation even facing the various bosses, actually a few, and all too easy to shoot down.
Another factor that has not really succeeded, and we have also mentioned it just now, is tied to the nature of the activities, especially the secondary ones. Although funny and pleasant, the risk of falling into repetition is around the corner as, inevitably, the various types of activities are very schematic and free of twists and turns or “surprise effect”. It must be said, however, that the title of Avalanche Studios and ID Software is designed to expand and progress over time (we have already seen a long list of updates planned for the game), and this can be seen even after the end credits. After the main quest, in fact, the game will make you immediately understand that the real fun has just begun and that the liberation of the “free world” is far from complete. A gameplay solution almost inevitable, which we hope will be adequately supported in the future with the already mentioned expansions already partly revealed.
The eye always wants its share
The crazy race of Rage 2, in addition to hitting the palate straight playful of every gamer, also cares (and not little) to do the same thing from a technical/visual point of view. At least on PC (version tested by us), Bethesda’s product can offer a glance at times important, with a very convincing rendering of elements such as light effects, facial animations of various NPCs and more generally the textures and various polygonal models. The game world is beautifully characterized, although it is impossible not to notice a certain redundancy in the models of enemies, in fact very few (especially bosses), especially human ones, really too similar to each other, even in relation to the different bands to which they belong. Even the three cities are all but uncharacterized, but it is mainly the outdoor phases – those riding the foamy transport vehicles, to be clear – to make it clear more clearly this limit. The environments, although splendid to see, are basically bare and poor in detail, resulting in excessively similar to each other. Nothing sensational, of course, and certainly not able to affect the overall quality of a product imported from the technical point of view, whose graphics quality is also evident in the care of the particles. Each explosion is simply an epiphany of a number of sensations difficult to experience elsewhere and it doesn’t matter if, in some situations, we have seen some small drop in frame-rate (solid on 30fps with “Ultra” setting and on 60 choosing the “High” option – all in Full HD) and some small delay in loading the textures or a slight pop-in, more obvious in the phases, needless to say, outdoors.
What has convinced us little, in truth, is the sound sector: the Italian dubbing is all in all positive, but often and willingly (surely it will be fixed with some patches to the day one) we let go to important issues. The audio track, occasionally, is literally skipped, leaving the task of explaining what happens to the inevitable subtitles. This didn’t seem to happen with English dubbing, fortunately, but we hope it will be promptly fixed in view of the official release.