Some thoughts on Rage

Well, I finished Rage last night. I have to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit, mostly because, at heart, it’s a very solid shooter. A number of missions in the very middle of the game, especially those starting from Wellspring, offer an excellent mix of varied environments, interesting enemies, and near-ideal shooter mechanics. Those really pulled me in. I was less thrilled by the game’s beginning and ending, especially since the very ending felt rushed, like too many games, where they’d run out of time and budget to make the final battle as epic as those in the middle of the game. Since I had a lot of fun with Rage, and since it’s nearly a genre convention these days for a game to end weakly, I can forgive that sin, although the sense of wasted potential is a little saddening.

As I told a friend the other night, I have two thoughts on wingsticks. First, they’re a barrel of fun, with a very tangible sense of the ostensible physics involved and excellent animations to go along with them. Winging one of these puppies at a bad guy and watching him take damage is ridiculously satisfying—an instant FPS classic. Second, wingsticks are an obvious concession to the lack of precise control on console gamepads. They’re too easy to aim and too powerful in terms of damage dealt, especially since they’re so easily interspersed with weapons fire. Wingsticks thus drain much of the drama and challenge out of Rage. Never would have happened if this were a PC-first title. Took me a while to come around to that second line of thinking, but once I did, I couldn’t shake that impression.

I said on the last podcast that I had to get over the fact Rage is not Borderlands, and I mostly was able to do so. Rage is smaller, more linear, and more of a pure shooter than Borderlands. Although it has a more limited number of weapons, there are actually much more varied options for creative killin’ in Rage thanks to different ammo types and devious devices like the RC bomb cars and sentry bots. I’ve never gotten into the crazy alt-weapons options in games like BioShock because they just didn’t suit me—seemed too contrived, slow, and clumsy compared to, you know, a gun. In Rage, I took special glee in dispatching bad guys with dynamite bolts and other such contrivances, even when they weren’t the fastest, because the hilarious carnage was reward enough.

Still, the player limitations built into this game are sometimes frustrating just because they don’t seem necessary. You can rarely go off of the intended path, even if doing so would only require stepping over a small brick. You might as well be trying to jump over a skyscraper, for all the good trying will do you. Then, in the final level, I came to what seemed like the obvious and only place to move forward in a small hallway, and it was blocked by a fairly large metal crate (imagine that). Immediately, I backtracked and searched every prior inch of the level looking for another way through. When I found nothing, I went back and considered blowing up the crate or finding some other option. Eventually, to my utter and bewildered shock, I was able to jump over this crate, something the entire rest of the game leading up to that point had meticulously taught me was impossible. Really strange.

Also, the wasteland is too prickly, dangerous, and barren to make freelance exploration rewarding. This game should have been a true open-world affair that encourages improvisation and discovery. The bones are there, but the flesh is not. I know it’s not Borderlands, and I swear I’m OK with that, but I still wish Rage was the game it promised to be, the game it cries out to be. Here’s hoping for more freedom in Rage 2.

Most of this talk sounds negative, but really, I’m mostly just wishing for more quality time spent in the world of Rage—and, heh, perhaps less spent on silly minigames like the knife thing. The silky-smooth id Software shooter mechanics are as good as ever, and there is a potent mix at work here. The game engine allows for unique textures to be painted on every object in the world, and the game’s creative types have taken that ball and run with it, creating levels that are more detailed, varied, interesting, and realistic than anything we’ve seen before, in a way. Meanwhile, the visuals and action unfold at a constant march of 16 milliseconds per frame (60 FPS if you average it out, but the smoothness is immediate and consistent). Other games may run at high frame rates, but few look this good and move this smoothly all of the time. The fact that this is one of the handful of contemporary games to get multisampled edge antialiasing right, on almost every edge in every scene, also helps immensely. Taken together, these things add up to a full-motion animated experience that’s more immersive than most games—and that is perfect for an action game like this one.

Screenshots don’t capture the experience, and what they do capture is Rage‘s one great visual weakness: a frequent lack of texture detail once you get too close to most objects. That weakness is unfortunate, and I understand a patch is coming with a "detail texture" addition that should at least partially alleviate the problem. Even without a fix, though, the in-motion visuals this game slings out can rival or surpass anything else on the PC, with the likely exception of BF3‘s single-player campaign. Some of the scenes in the game are incredible. Even though they’re static, I did grab a few screenshots in places as I played through Rage, and I’ve put them into the gallery below. Be sure to click the "View full size" button if you’d like to see a scene in its full 2560×1600 8X MSAA glory.

Comments closed
    • curv4k
    • 8 years ago

    I played Rage for about 15 minutes. I had built my hopes up for this game. It looks great but there’s no substance. It’s just another linear shooter.. no thinking necessary. I was expecting something like Fallout or even Borderlands. Not… go here, now go there, now do this, paint by numbers stuff. Come on? Can’t Bethesda do better than this?

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      I’ll buy it off you for $5.

    • Bensam123
    • 8 years ago

    “Screenshots don’t capture the experience, and what they do capture is Rage’s one great visual weakness: a frequent lack of texture detail once you get too close to most objects.”

    All hail the almighty megatexture. It only looks good from a distance.

    • michael_d
    • 8 years ago

    I have found solution for texture streaming pop-ins. The only drawback so far is occasional stutter for a fraction of a second probably due to lack of video ram. I found on 3D guru forums and it seems to help both nVidia/ATI cards.
    -create the following shortcut Rage.exe +seta mem_phymemblocksizem “2048” +exec “autoexec.cfg”
    -create autoexec.cfg and put it in rage/base folder
    -add the following contents to the autoexec.cfg and adjust values accordingly. ATI users may want to remove CUDA-related keys. In addition to CUDA values I removed the following:
    seta jobs_numthreads “2”
    seta vt_maxppf “512”
    seta vt_maxlockedpages “1024”
    It seemed to have reduced stutter.

    [quote<] seta fc_maxcachememoryMB "2048" seta com_videoRam "1280" //Virtual Textures seta vt_pageimagesizeuniquediffuseonly2 "16384" seta vt_pageimagesizeuniquediffuseonly "16384" seta vt_pageimagesizeunique "16384" <<< might want to use 8192 here seta vt_pageimagesizevmtr "16384" seta vt_qualityhdplossless "1" seta vt_qualityhdppower "0" seta vt_qualityhdpspecular "0" seta vt_qualityhdpnormal "0" seta vt_qualityhdpdiffuse "0" seta vt_qualitydctpower "100" seta vt_qualitydctspecular "100" seta vt_qualitydctnormal "100" seta vt_qualitydctchroma "100" seta vt_qualitydctluma "100" seta vt_usecudatranscode "2" seta vt_cudaBudget "256" seta vt_maxppf "512" seta vt_maxlockedpages "1024" seta vt_maxaniso "12" seta vt_uncompressedvmtr "1" seta vt_preload "1" seta vt_vmtrcompression "none" //HDP DXT DCT vt_restart //Renderer r_gamma "0.87" seta r_shadows "1" //default seta r_displayRefresh "0" //default seta r_multiSamples "4" //Image seta image_preload "1" seta image_blend "GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_LINEAR" seta image_filter "GL_LINEAR_MIPMAP_LINEAR" seta image_anisotropy "12" seta image_usecompression "0" seta image_screenshotquality "100" seta jobs_numthreads "2" vid_restart [/quote<]

    • Jigar
    • 8 years ago

    I have to say, this is the first engine that is actually using my quad core at 100% and if you have 4GB ram, this game will eat all of it. I think one more patch with bugs taken care of, and texture pack, this game is good to go.

    • d34thly
    • 8 years ago

    It seems like a huge amount of people are having problems running this game optimally. I have had no such problems. At launch I had minor Vsync issue but they patched it. My system is a dinasour and still plays this at 60fps at 1920×1080 with16x AA and everything at max. Seems to me that gaming folk just need to make a proper investment in the videocard department when they build or upgrade, I am running a vanilla GTX580 because there weren’t overclocked or any other versions out when I bought this card. I think I was also one of the first to buy an i7 on the 1156 platform. I spent like $1200 on a cheap lanbox 2 years ago and I bet It’ll last another 5 years of gaming.

    oops, reply fail!

      • Vasilyfav
      • 8 years ago

      $1200 cheap lanbox in a recession. Wake the fuck up.

      • indeego
      • 8 years ago

      bwahaha. That card was $500 on release, if that, and the card is still considered top of the line in single-card systems. [i<]Dinosaur[/i<] indeed. "Vanilla" indeed. And most of the i7's were many hundreds above $500.

      • dashbarron
      • 8 years ago

      [quote<] My system is a dinasour and still plays this at 60fps at 1920x1080 with16x AA and everything at max. [/quote<] Um...your system is a dinosaur sporting an i7? No. This post stinks of cover bragging.

    • indeego
    • 8 years ago

    Wow Scott finished a game. Didn’t you never finish HL2? But you finish this one? wow. Again. Wow.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      No ant lions! 🙂

    • WalkCMD
    • 8 years ago

    Beat this last night. I thought it was a great game, not particularly revolutionary in terms of gameplay but a good, solid, fun, quality game.

    I will agree with the author that the ending was a letdown and was over before I knew it.

    • focusedthirdeye
    • 8 years ago

    Does this game work well with crossfire? specifically 6970 2gb crossfire? I guess I am just curious…because I already bought starcraft and battlefield this year…cannot spend any more money (credit) on games. Sucks to have a nice computer and not be able to play any of the awesome games that already came out or are about to come out soon. If it was up to me, I would work in a easy/moderate work climate 12 hours a day every day for quite awhile……debt sucks.

    -Douglas Rochford

      • Jason181
      • 8 years ago

      It works pretty well, though I didn’t think it scaled as much as it should. Regardless, at 1680×1050 it maintained 100-120 fps with 4xAA and highest in-game settings (I have a 120 hz monitor). I have only played for a few hours though, so I’m not sure if that’s representative of the whole game. If you have the latest 11.10 preview 3 catalyst drivers. It’s entertaining, but personally I probably would have waited for a sale knowing what I know now about the gameplay.

      Hope that helps!

    • rhysl
    • 8 years ago

    This is a good beginners game for RAGE , it would be great if it had more of a Fallout enviroment look and feel .. ie you can climb up some crates/ mountains ..

    Slut it out !.. lol

    They really have kept you in a tight box in the movement around the enviroment .. sigh ..

    This game could have been so much more better..

      • squeeb
      • 8 years ago

      Yea, but considering IDs history its not really surprising…they’ve always been about tight spaces.

      Nice commentary..

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 8 years ago

    I’ll probably pick this up later this year or early next. Its a shave Id had to make so many PC concessions. Before the launch scandal I was planning to pick it up ASAP.

    • Yeats
    • 8 years ago

    I agree with most of the commentary. I’ve played only about 90 minutes, though, because the constriction of movement within the game is frustrating… I’ll get back to it at some point.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    Another comment… [quote<] I've never gotten into the crazy alt-weapons options in games like BioShock because they just didn't suit me—seemed too contrived, slow, and clumsy compared to, you know, a gun.[/quote<] I think that's what made Bioshock so much fun for me over the more traditional FPS. I had options and combinations available to me which felt I couldn't have done (or had to that point) with a "FPS" game. The variety was fun, creative, and the combination of graphics/mechanics/feel of it all felt so...real and human (like an extra clip on a pistol making it look like some backyard redneck-addon), which consequently was a big success for Bioshock: making the game feel authentic with their incredible work on a human expectations, society and politics at its finest, and that creepy but surreal 1930s-40's vibe.

    • dashbarron
    • 8 years ago

    Interesting listen on TR’s latest podcast about Rage too.

    • michael_d
    • 8 years ago

    I enjoyed this game too. Did you experience a lot of streaming textures? Which video card did you use? I have Radeon 5870 and cannot enable MSAA at 2560×1600.

      • Damage
      • 8 years ago

      If you mean streaming texture *problems*, those were fixed for me by choosing the largest texture cache size–first manually in a config file, and later in the game menu after the update. I was using a GeForce GTX 590, and I also had GPU transcoding enabled, which probably wasn’t necessary since I was using a fast CPU. Either way, I didn’t have texture pop-in issues once the cache size was raised.

      I am able to use up to 8X MSAA on my system, but choosing 16X causes performance to fall off of a cliff, with or without GPU transcoding enabled. Just have to manage video memory if you’re tweaking–either lower the cache size, disable transcoding (don’t think that’s available on Radeons), use less AA, or drop to a lower resolution if you’re running low (and thus slow).

      You’ll also want to watch your system RAM amount with a large texture cache, I believe. Mine had 12GB, so heh, no issues.

        • michael_d
        • 8 years ago

        Thanks, I have i7 960, 12GB of RAM, large texture cache and still have texture pop-in issue, which is only noticeable when mouse is moved very quickly. I tried to use custom config with no success.

          • Damage
          • 8 years ago

          Yeah, I think GPU transcoding might help, but that’s an Nvidia-only option.

          • Jason181
          • 8 years ago

          If you have an ssd, you might try moving the game to it rather than the hard drive. That helped quite a bit with the texture pop-in for me. I have 6970s in crossfire, so gpu transcoding isn’t an option either.

            • michael_d
            • 8 years ago

            GPU Transcoding is a CUDA thing and is available with GTX4XX/5XX series. I have regular HD and RAM. I will get an SSD and fast RAM with my next upgrade, plus Ivy Bridge and Radeon HD7XXX. No point in upgrading my 2 year old PC now.

    • donkeycrock
    • 8 years ago

    I have a few coments for this game. I have played all the quake games. And every release the best part of a new game coming from ID is the new technoligy in software. And UT was always second place. ID used Open GL and UT used Direct 3d. Now the world is flipped, not many people care about Open Gl, And UT3 engine is used in about every game.

    I would like to see ID slut their engine out and see its true potential. I’m not realy sure how the frostbyte engine is made from, But it is the gold standard in gaming at this time.

    I will be buying this game as soon as it hits 30 bucks for xmas sale. 60 is way over priced.

    • Silus
    • 8 years ago

    I enjoyed Rage too. The game is beautifully crafted and the scenery does not disappoint. It’s too bad that the lack of quality textures make it less stellar when up close. Dead City especially, is filled with low res textures. That “level” with proper textures would make it amazing!
    Rage’s animations and AI, plus shooter mechanics and races, make it quite unique. Never have I seen such variety in how enemies fight with us. The mutants, run, duck, jump, climb, walk on walls, grab ceilings…etc. Just amazing…The ending did feel rushed, but it’s obvious they want to release some sort of DLC, which I’ll certainly be waiting for. If it wasn’t for low res textures, I would give it an even better score. Not that textures break the gameplay, but they do break the immersion in some places (dead city is one of them for me), which prevents me from giving it more than a 8.5. Solid game, shooter mechanics as no one else but id knows how to do them (the shotgun is AMAZING) and it was lots of fun! Can’t watch for the better res texture patch. I’ll sure be playing Rage again when it comes out!

    • sweatshopking
    • 8 years ago

    Just about 3 hours in. I don’t understand what all the anger was about. The game is solid. I understand some people had gpu issues, but damn, otherwise, it’s a great game!

    • Dposcorp
    • 8 years ago

    This is a good piece of commentary………some games can never live up to their pre-release hype, even when they are really good games and worth the money

    This, like Portal 2, seems to be well worth the money, even though it is not 100% perfect.

    I’ll take a bunch of good games any day, as opposed to waiting for 1 great game every few years.

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