RAGE Proves Timing is Everything

15 10 2011

Rage Review

Let me begin by saying id has made a gigantic game.  Gigantic.  Three discs on Xbox 360 and 7.8 GB hard drive usage on PS3.  I threw the game in and waited 20 minutes for the damn thing to completely load.  What ever happened to the days where I rushed home after buying a game, put it in the system and just started playing?  Every game now makes me immediately download an update or requires updating trophy data.  But now that rants over and on to the meat and potatoes of id‘s long time coming post apocalyptic wasteland epic.

An August 2009 issue of Game Informer sits in my bathroom with many of it’s back issue brethren, I know this because I’ve looked at it often.  Not until RAGE was released this month did I realize it’s been 3 years since it’s announcement.  In that same issue Borderlands, Mass Effect 2, Uncharted 2, Modern Warfare 2, Assassin’s Creed II, Heavy Rain, God of War III, Left 4 Dead 2, BioShock 2, Alan Wake, and The Last Guardian were all previewed as upcoming games, and all of them, with the exception of The Last Guardian have been released, had huge success, and are even moving onto the next titles in their respective series.  So what took id so long?  Well, the short answer, making a huge system challenging FPS.  RAGE has the most impressive graphics I’ve seen in any game to date.  Every character has their own look, their own design, they follow you when they chat with you, and they rarely have the same thing to say when you converse with them.  The voice acting is superb and the facial animations are spot on, allowing you to see and hear the characters emotions you’re interacting with.  Enemies chat amongst themselves, talk to each other during combat, dodge, dip, dive, duck, and dodge to avoid incoming fire.  The wasteland is large and extremely detailed, it’s so detailed in fact that it almost seems too clean to be a post apocalyptic wasteland.  But sadly almost none of that matters because even with it’s superior graphics, the areas just seem…dated and done before.  Rightfully so I guess, Fallout and Borderlands have both done “this wasteland”, and they did it well, I’ve traveled it many times.  And RAGE’s huge wasteland is a little exaggerated, the detailed cliffs and hills you see on the horizon are nothing but a facade, you’re still driving from point to point with little to no exploration in between.

Your travels through the wasteland take you to two large cities and multiple “dungeon” type hideouts.  My immediate thoughts upon arriving in Wellsprings was “Firefly anyone?”, and Subway Town looks straight out of the live action Mario Bros. film or to be generous, an underground Bladerunner.  Why does every techno post apocalyptic wasteland have to use the same music and color palette?  Traveling to the same hideout for different missions became drab and repetitive, which was dissappointing considering each level was incredibly detailed and had massive potential of being something greater.  Even the Authorities Capital Prime felt cramped and rushed.  Don’t let the repetitive nature of some hideouts discourage you from exploring, each level is still interesting and well thought out.

The gameplay in RAGE is polished and solid.  id knows how to do first person shooters, and RAGE is no exception.  Moving around feels a little too smooth but the realistic head bob is a nice addition and makes you feel like you’re floating a little less.  Firing the range of weapons, which aren’t many, manage to feel real in your hands.  They have bearable recoil and each serve a purpose for certain enemies.  You can buy upgrades and ammo for weapons from vendors in towns, although ammo for most weapons are abundant as long as you’re looting bodies in the wasteland.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the melee attack, it was under powered and didn’t feel like a natural fluid motion.  I did enjoy the generic 1970’s grindhouse karate flick sound effect though.  A lot of the weapons feel under powered actually, enemies take way too much damage, even well placed head shots don’t seem to chip away much hp.  The Gearheads and Authority troops were notorious for taking ridiculous amounts of damage, usually absorbing a third of a clip before meeting their demise.  The menus in RAGE are similar to Fallout 3’s Pip-Boy, you “flip” between each page scrolling through quest progression, building helpful gadgets, assigning weapon slots, and checking items in your inventory.  The mandatory “flipping” between pages can be slow at times, making navigating through the menus annoying since you’re in them often.  I thought RAGE did make creating items in the game really simple though, the recipes are easily accessible and not difficult to remember.  It’s even easier since all the recipes and number of items you can create are always right in front of you.

Besides combat on foot, you also spend a lot of time in combat while driving.  This isn’t a racing game, although you do technically race, RAGE is heavier on the FPS aspect, but racing is an integral part of the title that needs to be critiqued.  The driving mechanics are solid making piloting the vehicles simple and fun.  The vehicles do feel very light though, adopting the same “floating” feeling as on foot.  This makes pushing bandit vehicles easy, often making them roll right over the top of you during races and in combat.  You can only upgrade your rides with racing certificates that you receive for winning races.  The generic races are a blast, but the Rally Point races random Feltrite drop was obnoxious and ultimately lead to me hating that race mode.  The races aren’t mandatory so this inconvenience was easy to avoid.  To avoid constant repairs on your vehicle it is highly suggested to upgrade your vehicle to the max before feeding yourself to the proverbial wolves of the wasteland.  There is no traditional Deathmatch in RAGE, all the multiplayer is done with vehicle combat, so if you want to succeed in multiplayer, you’ll need to become very familiar with your vehicle.

It took me around 12 hours to finally finish RAGE.  I spent a lot of my time racing, doing side jobs, and exploring.  As small as the wasteland is, I still managed to find numerous things to accomplish.  RAGE flows as smoothly as you walk, and I was very surprised when I saw the 12 hour mark on my save file because it really didn’t feel like it.  What RAGE lacked in an abundant wasteland, it gained through narration and strong story progression.  I understood where I came from, I understood what I was fighting for, and I understood who I was fighting for.  But RAGE still felt unfinished when I saw the credits roll.  Is there more?  id essentially created the FPS genre, but I feel the days of the silent protagonists are coming to an end, and id has proven that releasing a game at the right moment is key.  The boat was almost missed.

RAGE scores an A-.




Drunk Robots and Portal 2

8 10 2011

The Ghost Adventures drinking game was a huge success.  Ghosts have never been so entertaining.  But when Ghost Adventures came to an end, it was way to early to just stop drinking, so we picked up the PS3 controllers and started playing the new Portal 2 DLC “Peer Review”.  At our state of inebriation a continued drinking game for Portal 2 sounded like a good idea. 

Portal 2 Drinking Game

 –Anytime you shoot a portal, *drink*.  It’s that simple.

“Peer Review” was a free gift that just kept on giving.  Atlas and P-Body hugged and hi-fived their way through the 8 new stages, getting drunker and drunker with every wall plastered portal.  I honestly can’t remember the last two stages, they float vaguely in my memory like a ship in fog.  You’ve been warned, this game is addictive and may cause loss of consciousness.  Oh, and “Peer Review” is good too. 

Portal 2 “Peer Review” DLC scores an A+.

Pick “Peer Review” up for FREE on Steam, XBLA, and PSN.

COD Elite Beta: Day 4

26 09 2011

I decided to take part in the Call of Duty Elite beta hoping to catch a glimpse of what Acitivision has planned for it’s upcoming title you may have heard of, Modern Warfare 3.  Although this Elite beta has nothing to do with MW3 right now, it is a working progress of how you will track your stats while playing MW3.  I plan to share with you all the details of the site as it shapes and grows into the final product you should see well before MW3’s release.  Unfortunately you will hear about my terrible stats, but I’m in this for the ride, not the glory.

Day 4

The site right now is elite.callofduty.com  , you should be able to apply for the beta there also. The header for the site right now allows easy access to leave feedback strongly encouraging testers to tell everyone about how the beta is doing and has featured news with tips and tricks of the trade.  When you log in you have four pages to choose from: CAREER, CONNECT, COMPETE, and IMPROVE.  Today I plan on going in depth into the CAREER page.

Your CAREER card allows you to see las maps played and current loadouts.


You open the career page with a lumped summary of your past performances.  All of this data being collected is from Black Ops only, for now, and has your recent matches stats, custom classes, personal bests, leaderboards, weapon performance, and your theater all recorded down to the minute.  I have to admit I was pretty excited when I saw my gamertag and emblem pasted right on top of the Summery.  Scrolling down the page you can see your winning percentage, kill/death ratio, xp and credits earned in extreme detail.  Every number as I could see was current even to my last game played only a few hours ago.  Friends you’ve played with are displayed and of course gives you an option to post them on Facebook.  You have the option to manually track players and follow GroupsGroups so far consist of universities and professional sports teams, nothing I’m too interested in at the moment.  And now onto the Showcase tab of CAREER.  In Elite you can enlist in “Operations” and “Events” where you earn badges that will be displayed proudly in your Showcase.  In the upcoming days I’ll go into more detail about these “Operations” and “Events” when I cover the COMPETE page.  The CAREER page is finished with your Enlistment Schedule covering “Operations and Events” you have upcoming, in progress and completed.  So far I really like how the site is designed, it’s clean and easy to navigate.

You can look at your Black Ops Playercard stats, so for giggles I thought I would post my numbers up for each post and entitle it “Noobwatch 2011

Prestige 4 level 34

Winning Pct.

  • 68%

Kill/Death Ratio

  • 1.22

I finally rid myself of Fallout: New Vegas

21 09 2011

This has been on my mind since the first day I purchased Fallout: New Vegas, and now it has to be said, “I don’t like this Fallout.”  There I said it, I tried to deny it for so long but I can’t do it anymore.  I’ve tried so hard to enjoy this game, but no matter what I do, I find myself bored and disconnected from it somehow.  Fallout 3 was my favorite game of 2009, I beat the shit out of that game.  I  found everything there was to do in Fallout 3 completing 100% of the achievements and purchasing all the DLC.  I found myself engrossed in the story and completely enveloped in the wasteland.  I wandered everywhere, saw everything and literally had to physically pull myself away from Fallout 3 to accomplish real life tasks.

So why am I finding it so hard to enjoy New Vegas?  What is so drastically different that has me so disconnected with this title?  I created three different characters, all drastically different in S.P.E.C.I.A.L’s, perks, skills, karma and factions, and still found no character interesting or fun to play.  Living in Las Vegas I did find the surrounding areas of New Vegas very amusing, Good Springs, the Hoover Dam, Red Rock, Boulder City and Primm, but even being familiar with these area’s in real life, I never wanted to actually explore them in game.  And actually trying to explore them wasn’t easy.  I constantly found everything outside my current questing area’s far too high in level.  The previous Fallout that I loved so much for it’s freedom and exploration was lost, and now felt like a substandard game on rails.  Instead New Vegas now made exploring difficult and unbeneficial forcing you from one area to the next.  The unexplorable vast wasteland wasn’t the only drawback to the game, the perks and factions were also factors in my dislike for the game.  The Wild Wasteland perk was the only real perk I enjoyed, most of the others were drab and uninspired.  With every character I made I joined both major factions and even attempted to stay neutral between the two with one of my characters.  The New California Republic was by far the easiest faction to join and made traveling around the wasteland safer.  But what if I didn’t believe in the NCR’s values?  So I tried joining Caesar’s Legion, but I found them unwelcoming and even after finishing numerous menial quests for them I still found myself “unfriendly” with them and now also “unfriendly” with the NCR (which proved costly since they’re everywhere).  There were a few things I did like about New Vegas, Hardcore mode was ingenious, and a lot of the companions you meet during your travels proved to be very helpful, leaving me constantly torn between which two I was going to use.   But without fail, every time I picked up the Fallout: New Vegas box I let out a long tired *sigh* and placed it back on the shelf.  And there it’s sat for almost a year now, collecting dust and an occasional glance.  Well not anymore, I don’t plan on keeping the game much longer, I will find some value in it, probably in the form of trade in credit.

Hawken Official PAX 2011 Gameplay Trailer

29 08 2011

If you haven’t heard of Hawken you’re probably not into mech combat games.  But if you are into mech combat and you haven’t heard of Hawken, then commence with the drool.  This is an official teaser for Hawken that has no release date at this moment.

Catherine Review

13 08 2011

Catherine is many things.  Catherine as a game is a mind bending, wall climbing, block pushing, emotion roller coaster…ing puzzle game to the core.  Catherine, the person on the other hand, is an attractive, seductive, flirtatious, emotion driven succubus.  Together they make a force, both intriguing, and at times extremely frustrating and emotionally exhausting. 

Catherine’s story revolves around Vincent and his relationship with his long time girlfriend Katherine.  Vincent has been having terrible nightmares where, if you die in the dream, you die in real life.  From stage left enters: Catherine (the killer), who stumbles upon Vincent in his mellow bar, The Stray Sheep.  She’s provocative, and at that point and time in Vincent’s life, has the perception of life that Vincent want’s to have.  From here, Vincent can strengthen his relationship with Katherine, or stray from his “safe” path with Catherine.  Vincent meets many men in relationships through this story, all of which have one dark secret in common.  Enter stage right: The Nightmares (a killer).  Vincent can choose to help those men in need, or continue to help himself.  The strength of Catherine streams from it’s deep story and many endings connecting these decisions through an emotion meter you think is between right/wrong or good/bad.  

Catherine’s actual game is a puzzle based semi-platformer where you climb by strategically moving blocks to avoid plunging to your death.  The game is not easy, and I suggest, no, insist you play on the “easy” mode first.  The concept may seem simple, but in the later nightmares the puzzles become very complex with gaps and special boxes that aim to assist your imminent failure.  I personally would have liked more camera controls.  I’m unsure if Atlas wanted the player to have less control of the camera to add to the difficulty or anxiety of each level.  At times the general controls were even difficult, moving, pushing, and climbing blocks when you didn’t want to, forcing you to “undo” moves (an option only available in easy).  And it’s hard for me to explain how difficult it was navigated behind the blocks with no camera and constantly having to change unneeded directions.  The difficulty of Catherine almost made me put a venting post review of  “F” over my frustration with the last boss.  I had maxed out my lives at 99, spent 38 of them, and played the final boss over, and over for an hour and 15 minutes.  I was literally pulling my hair out over this extremely difficult final boss battle.  If you moved one block incorrectly after the last checkpoint, you were essential forced to retry.  But, I did succeed, and it was a sigh of relief, maybe similar to what Vincent was feeling, knowing he had survived his final restless night.

Catherine almost gave me a brain aneurysm, but she has seduced me back into her arms, with promises of more outrageous emotional endings.

Catherine scores an A-.