They were wrong. The end of the world was August 23, 2029, when the asteroid hit. The brilliant minds of our time came up with the Ark, vessels buried deep underground. It was supposed to be our salvation. It was our salvation, but not as it was intended.

In id Software’s new first-person shooter Rage, you take on the role of an Ark survivor that awakens in a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by humans, mutants, and a lot of devastation. Much to every fanboi’s dismay, Rage is a cross between Fallout 3 and Borderlands with id Software’s own twist and brilliant first-person shooter game play.

While Rage is technically a shooter, unlike all of id Software’s other major titles, Rage tries to take the next logical steps to improve upon the genre by combining first-person shooter elements with role-playing elements. Top all of this off with some fun dune buggy driving for some a little mini-game diversion. In Rage, you also have the ability to craft engineering devices that help our hero open locked doors and kill bad guys in more explosive ways. While Rage does have some roleplaying elements, including a fair share of dialogue, first-person shooter fans will be excited to hear that they do not need to worry about earning experience points. This was a huge complaint in both Fallout 3 and Borderlands where fans that preferred shooting enemies had to deal with the tediousness of leveling up. However, there is some inventory micro-management required, but it is relatively painless once you are accustomed to what can be sold and what should be kept.

At first glance, many people are calling Rage “Borderlands 2”, and it is pretty obvious why if you’ve played the original Borderlands. In Rage, you not only get to complete quests and collect guns, much like in Borderlands, but you also have vehicles that you improve and race around the wastelands. In fact, Rage embraces the racing mini-game and tosses in a few dozen tracks to test your driving skills. You do not have to spend your time racing if you do not wish, but doing so will allow you to outfit your four vehicles with better engines, suspension, and projectile weapons.

While many people are citing a mere 9 hours to complete Rage, it took me approximately 19 hours to complete my first play through. This included getting gold medals for all races, and completing 42% of the Steam achievements. Rage’s nightmare mode is a bit challenging for gamepad users, but I found the precision of the mouse and keyboard more than enough to clear through the mutants. The vehicles are substantially easier to drive with the gamepad, so I found myself jumping back and forth between controls depending on what I was doing.

The graphics in Rage are amazing, if you can get your video drivers tweaked correctly. Rage had a lot of release issues particular with ATI drivers, although nVidia users were not in the clear entirely. This is the first game to use Id Software’s new Tech 5 graphics engine, so a lot of post-release tweaking was required. After few driver updates, and a game patch, Rage is pretty much stable with only a little bit of texture popping evident when out in the wasteland. Some portions of Rage, especially outdoors, can be absolutely breathtaking. Yet in other situations, you are left staring at the blandest texture imaginable, even with the graphics settings set on absolute maximum.

The audio in the game was a bit deceiving on stereo. Many times you would hear an enemy as if it were nearby, only to find it was on the other side of a wall inaccessible from your current location. While the constant growls and ambient noises do keep you on your feet, it can be otherwise frustrating to spin around in circles only to find you are alone over and over again. Perhaps a high end sound card with Dolby 5.1, which very few people seem to invest in these days, would address this issue.

So how is the storyline? Well, we can safely say it is the best id Software has ever come up with, which isn’t saying much. The concept is cool, but the lack of dialogue choices makes the player seem disengaged and merely along for the ride. Coupled with the lack of character development and an otherwise bland backstory, the storyline in Rage merely bridges the gap between shooter maps with a bunch of driving in between to get you there. The open world that seems rather open at first is in actuality very small. Don’t be confused. This isn’t a sandbox roleplaying game. This is a first-person shooter and as a shooter, it plays well. Our character can duck, jump, and otherwise strafe his way to victory, blowing through humans and mutants alike. Each of the dozen or so weapons has multiple addons and ammo types. Most you can find while running around, but some of the more unique addons require that you craft them using your engineering skills.

The crafting is nothing special, and is very similar to Fallout 3. You find or otherwise learn recipes as you explore and then you collect junk around the wasteland. Since this is not a full fledge roleplaying game, there is no skill check to craft things, and you merely need to collect the proper ingredients to make an item. The racing mini-game is also optional, but will help you when driving around the wasteland. New weapons, faster speed boosts, and better handling are a few of the benefits of spending time with the racing mini-game, which in actuality would make a pretty good standalone game, which is what Rage’s multiplayer option is all about. You also get a co-op multiplayer function that expands the storyline a little bit, which provides a few hours of gameplay with a buddy after you complete the rather short campaign.

Overall, the graphics and first-person shooter game play are both spectacular. This is what you would expect from the guys that practically invented the genre. However, id Software needs to stick with what they are good at doing. Someone else needs to come up with the storyline, because every single one of id’s games has had an uninspired forgettable plot. Remember that Doom movie that came out back in 2005? Yeah, exactly like that. Horrible!

If you want a great shooter that can be completed in a weekend or two, buy it. If you want a game that will last you until the Star War’s MMO is released, don’t. Case closed.

Graphics: 10 Final Score:

7 / 10

Gameplay: 8
Story: 3
Enjoyment: 8
Replayability: 6