Per usual, my first paragraph to a review will be a little personal and give some insight. I played the original Rage back in 2011 for all about three hours. I remember meeting John Goodman’s character and screwing around for a bit because I couldn’t be bothered to complete the story. The gameplay and world were also a bit bland and after losing forty minutes of progress relatively early in the game I quit. Although to be fair that was my dumbass fault for not properly saving. Regardless, I couldn’t be bothered to retread those same forty minutes and a sequel was all but cast aside in my mind. Now nine years, an Andrew W.K. performance, and over the top, balls to the wall presentations later we have Rage 2. While the experience is nowhere near the level of crazy and meta the trailers and pre-release footage will have you believe, this Doom meets Far Cry and Mad Max is rightfully entertaining.
Rage 2 takes place some thirty-ish years after the first game and puts players in the shoes of Walker, a ranger from a heavily fortified military base known as Vineland. These rangers are equipped with specialized suits that allow users to perform feats of strength and speed otherwise not possible. So this small army is nothing to trifle with even without all the defenses, weapons, and protocols normally afforded to a militarized compound. Unfortunately, General Cross and The Authority, the primary antagonists of the first title, make a sudden reappearance and easily overwhelm the base in quick, albeit unbelievable fashion. Leaders are killed, buildings destroyed, and events are put into motion that force Walker to journey into the wasteland that is still recovering from asteroid Apophis all those years ago.
Luckily, the remaining powers that be were aware that General Cross might return one day having cheated death and left a failsafe plan behind called Project Dagger. Sadly, Project Dagger and all story missions are essentially fetch quests. Walker has to gather materials for some returning faces which are then formulated into one mission in hopes of stopping Cross for good. The story itself probably takes five to seven hours to beat and completing near everything else around twenty-five to thirty hours. While the campaign had its moments it just wasn’t very fleshed out or felt like it belonged in an open world. Side missions and content are pretty isolated and there’s no underlying subplot to speak of. I’m also not noticing any specific post-game objectives popping up.
Gameplay is both Rage 2’s bread and butter and saving grace. It has an awesome arcade feel and style that harkens back to Bulletstorm and Doom. It’s bloody, visceral and all starts with the aforementioned ranger suit and Feltrite, the mineral glue to near everything. The exosuit itself has some nifty abilities in combat and out. Dashing, increased sprinting, double jumping, and using Focus to highlight important items on-screen are all apart of Walker’s repertoire. Which can of course be upgraded by collecting Nanotrite Boosters from chests and enemies. The real fun stuff comes in the form of abilities like Shatter, Slam, Vortex, Barrier, and Overdrive. These add extra oomphs to melee attacks, ground slams, and other techniques that may or may not involve singularities. Overdrive even affects the weapons you hold in this superpowered state in joyous ways. Although Barrier is pretty self-explanatory. These can also be modified and upgraded with Nanotrite Booster items. The ranger suit can defibrillate its wearer if they fall in combat too. A quick QTE and walker is back up with a fraction of health.
Now this wouldn’t be a post-apocalyptic adventure without some guns. Walker can utilize up to eight on the fly courtesy of a standard weapon wheel. The usuals are here like the pistol, assault rifle, shotgun, rocket launcher, and revolver. To be fair though they are more unique than most as mods, which are earned through adventuring as well, increase various aspects of the weapons. Once you have the Feltrite to unlock them of course. However, Rage 2 offers the Grav-Dart Launcher, Hyper Cannon, and Charged Pulse Cannon for some mutant killing fun. The latter will be especially familiar to anyone who played Resistance 2. When these bad boys are in your hands you’ll feel unstoppable. Rounding off the combat are throwables and kits called Infusions. The three-bladed Wingstick makes a return alongside grenades and turret drones. Pretty typical. Then there’s health infusions, overdrive infusions, and ability infusions which increase/cooldown their namesake. You can find them scattered in the wasteland or craft them once you purchase schematics.
Rage 2 offers some nice gameplay combinations with all the abilities and techniques. My personal favorite is ejecting out of the vehicles used to drive around, floating in mid-air for a few brief seconds shooting down lead on anything hostile, and then rocketing down with my upgraded, shockwave infused slam. Needless to say, when you get a handle on combat you’ll find yourself turning into an unforgiving lord of destruction where nothing can stand in your way. On normal difficulty anyway. I only died twice in my playthrough due to ammo, cash, health, and sellables being so frequent at every location. What’s more, is when an enemy dies they drop Feltrite which heals Walker when picked up. Running and gunning has never been so literal. As far as enemies go they are what you’d expect in a sci-fi world: mutants, factions, raiders etc. with slight different variations and a brute form that has a bit more health.
While location and level designs can be kind of samey, there are just enough activities and environments that make any point on the map worth going too. Which consist of jungles, swamps, deserts, canyons, and plateaus. You’ll be clearing out bandit dens, mutant nests, road checkpoints, recharging power stations, locating Arks which house some of your weapons and abilities, harvesting Feltrite from meteorite craters, collecting bounties, defeating Authority sentry machines, slaying giant beasts, and sleuthing out areas where former rangers once occupied. There are also scattered racing opportunities whether random encounters or at organized track locations. All and all the racing mechanics handle ok, but it’s all very basic. Same goes with car combat. Then there’s Mutant Bash TV which acts as a televised TV program the player can star in. All Walker has to do is kill anything in this pit of death and be rewarded with separate currency for the TV studio. Not to mention the fame of being a bloodthirsty monster. Lastly, you can purchase cheats from a vendor and create your own wacky missions like in the olden times.
Rage 2 might be carried by vicious, grotesque, and wonderlust levels of violent fun, but like any Bethesda produced title there are some technical problems. Like crashing back to the dashboard because you threw a Wingstick in the swamp area. I kid you not I stopped using the throwable a few times after that. Enemies will occasionally get stuck in walls or walk in to them ruining the objective of clearing an outpost. A reload would be required just like when prompts to talk to a character wouldn’t work. Hell some characters took their sweet time just appearing. Plus, character expressions and animations are pretty doughy. I don’t know whether to say if graphics could have used more effort or if the look was part of Rage 2’s schtick. Don’t even get me started on the camera temporarily going in the ground while driving the Phoenix vehicle.
Rage 2 PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
There’s not much to Rage 2 except the gameplay and combat. The story is still uninspired and the overall experience before things feel repetitive is pretty short. I’m just glad the developers injected a much needed yet familiar boost in how the player can cause gory and over the top mayhem. It alone was the driving force for me. I don’t know if this sequel was necessary, but it was a serviceable three day distraction.
- Addictive and adrenaline injected gameplay
- Many cool and distinct combat possibilities
- The weapons are the bomb
- Uninspired, short story
- Nice amount of content eventually feels repetitive
- Mission breaking technical problems
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a physical version of the game with the latest patch (1.02) bought at retail at the expense of the reviewer. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed on a PS4 Pro.
Note: The official review embargo is May 13th. We did not get our copy of the game from Bethesda so we’re under no obligation to adhere to the embargo or any other conditions placed upon those who agreed to Bethesda’s terms.