The Mood Swings Between Rage 1 & 2
Last week marked the release of Rage 2 for PC and consoles, which comes nearly eight years after the launch of the original. In order to revitalize the franchise, Rage 2 aimed to bring a fresh style and atmosphere to the post-apocalypse.
Back in 2011, id Software released Rage 1 as a flagship franchise, and the next evolution in first-person-shooter story-based games. Their impressive artificial-intelligence code brought a far smarter and more unpredictable enemy into a shooter genre that isn’t known for vast advancement. Alongside the Ai would be a vast open-world and a compelling story.
Unfortunately for Rage 1, the 2011 video games market was filled to the brim with titles that are now beloved from both new and renowned franchises. The drab and beige post-apocalyptic world of Rage 1 was competing for attention in a time (fall of 2011) where games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim were mere weeks away, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception were right around the corner.
In 2011, gamers we in love with titles like Portal 2, Dark Souls, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, L.A. Noire, Infamous 2, and so many more. It was a banner year for video games. That made the long-winded exploration of a soft story, and a bland atmosphere nearly impossible to get behind, with or without its stellar game engine and tech.
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When it came time to breathe new life into a franchise that easily could have never returned, id Software and Bethesda had a two-point plan;
Firstly, the development and publishing duo brought in a new friend – one with cool new tricks, highly praised by the gaming public. Avalanche Studios was invited to the party in order to make the overworld and vehicle combat a more pertinent and enjoyable part of the Rage 2 experience.
The other focus was the mood. You see, Rage had something. A touch of that old id Software flavor. However, it was trying to be Doom in a period where the world just wanted actual Doom. Thankfully, the id Software and Bethesda pairing would reboot Doom in 2016, leaving room for Rage 2 to take its franchise a little bit more off the beaten path.
All of the marketing material for Rage 2 (aside from their E3 2018 reveal) has been goofy, fast-paced, packed full of rock music, and blasting with spots of color. Pretty much the exact opposite of the pallet presented by the original.
Coming at it from a completely whimsical angle might have sold the game short though, because it actually contains quite a fine mix between potently drab situations and utterly giddy chaos. Some may have feared that Rage 2 would swing too far in the opposite direction, and if you were building your assumption on the trailers and posters, no one could blame you. Yet, Rage 2 avoids becoming too much like other fun-tastic shooters.
Recently, Gearbox Software announced Borderlands 3. With it, showed that the franchise has truly leaned into its goofy and crazy nature. Rage 2, on the other hand, would have suffered from that decision. id Software and Avalanche Studios have aimed to strike a balance and keep it.
Although the world of Rage 2 has been torn apart by rivaling factions and persists in a delicate and volatile wasteland, the game really affords players the opportunity to have some crazy fun at times. This is in part due to the futuristic alien-like implants your character can assign themselves to grant superhuman abilities. Things like going into overdrive can turn the tide of a particularly nasty gunfight and injects the over-the-top bloody gore than can often spur a chortle out of you. Even the non-personal enhancements, like car ejector seats, provide small flares of fun as you seek an ideal entrance into a bandit camp.
Other wacky portions of the game are the Mutant Bash TV and the Chazcar Derby. Two rather campy, but ultimately endearing, extracurriculars in the game. The latter is a combat racing league that sees players use cars of all kinds to race around a track against some colorful characters for a chance at fame and fortune. With added emphasis on the quality of vehicular gameplay and combat (thanks Avalanche!), the Chazcar Derby is a fantastic place to spend some time and earn some cred.
Mutant Bash TV, on the other hand, is a reality television show that will pit the player against increasingly difficult rooms of mutants. Executing flashy and stylish kills grant you more points and bigger rewards, if you have what it takes to make it out alive. MBTV also has challenges that you can accept prior to entering, upping the craziness. Currently, there are only three. You can choose to play with Wingstick and Pistol only (Ranger Style), with nothing but a Rocket Launcher and unlimited ammo, or in a “normal” mode that allows you to use all of your own equipment and powers.
It’s these moments spread across the entire experience of the game (like Mutant Bash TV) that sprinkle in enough randomness and color into a bleak openworld that shifts the mood from an always-dramatic environment into something far more enjoyable for hours on end.
Variety is the spice of life and shotgun powder is the spice of fights, but will the changes be enough to set Rage 2 apart from the previous game? Time will tell, but we can certainly say it went out of its way to add something to the mix.
Read More: Where To Find All Ark Locations In Rage 2
Hidden around the world of Rage 2 are more than a dozen Arks. These Arks house great wealth, offering new abilities and powerful weapons for those brave enough to enter. The only trouble is, finding the locations of these Arks can be a bit difficult.