Rage 2's story and characters are as vapid as its post-apocalyptic wasteland setting, but the game's saving graces are its creative weapon designs and super-powered combat.
At first glance, it is easy to mix up Rage 2 with the Borderlands franchise games. Both are first-person shooters with vehicular combat set in a desert, an open-world populated by wacky, over-the-top characters.
Rage 2 does not lean as heavily on goofiness as Borderlands.
Instead, with its cheesy dialogues, it has a more B-movie feel to it, which is actually perfect for a game light on story and heavy on action.
There is a lot to do. You can take part in car races on a dirt circuit and out in the wasteland, or kill waves of mutant enemies for a gameshow, with both activities rewarding you with valuable resources.
Scattered across the map are many multi-level enemy outposts and subterranean dungeons, some with giant mutant bosses to defeat for ability upgrades.
When you have upgraded your main combat vehicle, The Phoenix, to a good enough level, you can also attempt to take down enemy convoys of fortified trucks that roam the world.
- Good graphics
- Fun super powers
- Creative weapon design
- A lot of activities
- Dull story
- Bland characters
- Some unintelligent enemy AI
- Low replay value
PRICE: From $82 (PC; Xbox One; PS4, version tested)
GENRE: Post-apocalyptic first-person shooter
Developer Avalanche has brought over the high-octane vehicular carnage from its criminally underrated Mad Max video game, streamlining that aspect in a title already heavy on gameplay mechanics.
Rage 2's gunplay and abilities feed the power fantasy thrill. The open-world allows players to freely seek out new abilities and weapons from various vaults, or "Arks".
Most weapons have two modes. The Firestorm Revolver, for example, shoots like any other pistol, but its alternative mode sets fire to enemies.
The futuristic Combat Shotgun fires a horizontal spread of slugs. But when used while aiming through its gun sight, it fires a tight, focus shot that strips armour and sends enemies flying.
There are at least six other weapons to be experienced, not counting grenades, auto-turrets and the Wingstick, a kind of bladed boomerang.
The eight power abilities are a blast too.
Among them is the crowd-controlling Slam ability, which propels you over enemies, allowing you to hover for a second before you punch into the ground, blasting enemies away in all directions.
The Vortex ability, when applied on the ground, can launch players to gain a positional advantage or blast enemies into the air for a few seconds.
The Overdrive ability, which charges up from killing enemies, can boost your abilities as well as the damage output and firing speed of your weapons, and significantly buff you against damage.
All weapons and abilities can be upgraded to make you an even more efficient killing machine.
The game looks good, with neon lights and bright colours in the game world and user interface breaking up the monotony of sand and rust.
Sound effects are punchy too, with the combat accentuated by an electronic rock soundtrack.
If I am to quibble, the menus are sluggish and there are game bugs (mostly in-vehicle), but they do not diminish the fun factor.
From the Fallout franchise, with its irradiated environment, to The Last Of Us, with its zombie outbreak, post-apocalyptic titles tend to fare well both commercially and critically.
Many of these titles allow the exploration of societies without rules, while urging players to identify what really makes us human. You won't find such depth in Rage 2, but who needs that when it is fun to just blow things up.
Also, you needn't worry if you have not played the 2011 Rage game. Rage 2's story is simple and can be summed up as this - kill the enemies to get things so that three people can build a tank to defeat the bad guy.
Despite a paper-thin plot, those looking for a single-player experience with great weapons, abilities and various activities will find plenty to like here, with the game able to keep them entertained for a good number of hours.
Indeed, while Rage 2's main story mission is a 10- to 12-hour experience, I found myself barely completing half of the activities on the map even after more than 20 hours.