EDITOR'S NOTE: Since Joel is a has-been tech guy but currently a wuss, he's decided to write occasional game reviews, mostly for attention. He's not cool enough at all to receive games in advance like those smarmy magazines and high-traffic websites, so his reviews come in a bit late. To compensate - something Joel has to do regarding many things - he tries to make his reviews interesting. Good luck.
Hey there! Evidently id Software made another game, after about 75 years of bathing in money from the Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake franchises. Who wouldn't?
I've played a whole bunch of the kinda-sorta-sandbox-that-gives-the-illusion-of-free-choice-but-really-leads-you-around-by-the-balls game RAGE (Windows version). It's cool in a frustrating way, or frustrating in a cool way, whichever you like.
After I'd spent sufficient time wrestling with tech issues like the famous texture popping and such (this was actually part of the game; that John Carmack is a sly fox!) the game looked fantastic One certainly can't fault the graphics of the new id engine.
As I played, though, I started thinking of other games. Yes, in the post-apocalyptic world of RAGE, you drive, you race, you shoot people and mutants, you upgrade your cars and your weapons, deliver mail, etc. Yes, you read that right. You can be a mailman if you choose. Exciting stuff.
Almost every aspect of RAGE, though, feels oddly familiar. To show the effect, I made this handy pie chart because it'll make the review look more sophisticated.
Thank you, GraphJam! I would have used Excel, but that's so involving. Now, let's go through each component of the game RAGE.
First off, because it's made by id, it obviously features elements of other id games. The two that came to mind are Quake 3 and Doom 4. No, wait. That's Doom 3 and Quake 4. Right? Despite id's attempt to get away from corridor frag fests, the player experiences them whenever he attempts to complete a mission and goes inside a cave network, rundown shack, etc. Mutants charge at you (hello Quake!) and sometimes burst out of nowhere from behind (hey there, Doom's monster closets!). Occasionally the bad guys use tactics, like diving for cover and such.
The driving is very Interstate '76 (hopefully the people - er, person who reads this is old enough to remember that incredible game). You arm your car by winning races and receiving tickets, which are a currency especially for buying car weaponry. The other currency, for mundane crap like bullets, is dollars. Yes, American dollar bills somehow retain value after an apocalypse. Hell, the dollar is barely a working currency right freaking now and there hasn't been an apocalypse yet. Maybe a good old fashioned meteor strike would raise its value against the euro.
Fallout 3 is obvious. Look at the screenshots of the game. If anyone except Bethesda published RAGE, it would have sued the publisher for recreating Fallout 3.
I threw John Romero's Daikatana in there not because the games are similar, but because RAGE was spectacularly hyped and turned out to be something of a letdown. Now, it's not a letdown on the level of the abysmal Daikatana, which, I understand, parents punish their children by forcing them to play it, but I saw similarities in the prerelease blah-blah and the actual release, which was clumsy and made me think of the late Peter Seller's Inspector Clouseau, and how he'd release a title.
Finally, The Postman. It's a film, not a game, but still, for Christ's sake, RAGE, the awesome action powerhouse from the worlds's most celebrated and influential developer studio...makes you a postal carrier. Whee!
Now, if you dig all that crap, the technical glitches and core components of RAGE, go ahead and enjoy it. I'm rather glad to be through with it...not because it was awful but because it was mediocre. That, of all things, is non id-like.
SCORE: 7.8 Mutant Heads Exploding When You Score A Headshot (out of 10).