Rage – the PS3 Attitude online review
Rage has given us one of our most enjoyable singleplayer experiences of the year, and we said as much in our in-depth review last week. This week, however, we’re focusing on its multiplayer and trying to decide if Rage is as much fun with company as it is alone.
The first noteworthy thing to say about Rage online is that it doesn’t feature a competitive FPS mode. It has competitive driving modes, and a co-op FPS mode, but it doesn’t have deathmatch, capture the flag or any other fairly standard online FPS modes.
That’s odd for two reasons: (1) it’s rare to find an FPS without these modes, and (2) it’s id Software we are talking about; Quake is one of the most popular online games ever. It seems quite strange that id has overlooked the traditional game modes.
Nevertheless, there are still two ways to play Rage online. The first, Road Rage, offers a series of vehicle-based modes in which a player will go up against three others. The second mode, Wasteland Legends, offers two-player co-op gameplay across a wide selection of missions. Both are detailed below:
Road Rage offers four game modes.
Meteor Rally -Collect fallen meteors and carry them to the designated capture zones. Dropping off multiple meteros at once gets you more points; however, an opponent could steal them from you if you’re not careful.
Chain Rally – Points are awarded to the first player to reach a randomly generated location on the map. The marker then moves to another randomly generated location nearby. Added points are awarded to players who consequently come first , hence the “chain” part of the name.
Triad Rally – Very similar to the Chain Rally, but the difference here is that there are three markers on the map, and players only score when they’ve reached all three.
Carnage – It’s an apt name, is Carnage. It’s a four-player free-for-all deathmatch, which features much, well, carnage.
There is also an XP levelling system in place, through which players can unlock better cars, more chassis, weapon options, quick-use items, etc. The range of customisation options is fairly extensive and it should be wide enough to keep the more committed players coming back for more.
Most of Rage’s six stages are good too. One has players driving across narrow platforms high up in the sky, above fast moving propellers, and even the more familiar wasteland arenas are interesting. They are jazzed up with boosting ramps, which are scattered about to make it easier for players to get across the map — or simply to indulge in a childish urge to fly.
Road Rage’s boosts, shooting, simple objectives and even its bounciness, they all combine to create an experience that’s quite familiar to Mario Kart, believe it or not, albeit an experience channelled through the gory minds of id.
It definitely has the ingredients to be an interesting off-road multiplayer battler. However, for whatever reason, the finished product feels a bit lacklustre.
It could be down to the modes ending abruptly without any real sense of tension or the lack of recognition for the victor, or maybe its lack of variation is the issue; after all, three of the modes are very similar.
All of the above sap out some of the enjoyment. The biggest problem for us though was the lack of any decent community features. We could easily have been up against three AI characters and it would have felt the same.
Going back to Mario Kart, the reason why that has sold so many copies is because it’s a great social experience. It’s you and three others huddled round a TV, sparking off each other. Road Rage can’t have this effect because it doesn’t have a split-screen mode, but neither are there any personal touches in the online features to compensate.
No doubt id weighed up the factors and decided that there wouldn’t be sufficient interest in split-screen to justify the effort. They probably were right, but is there enough interest to justify the inclusion of Road Rage at all?
Let’s be honest: most people will buy Rage because it’s an exciting FPS from a legendary FPS dev. Some will find the cars surprisingly enjoyable, as we did, but how many are going to be rushing out to play Road Rage? How many will stick with it? It’s not dreadful by any means; it’s just uninspiring.
Wasteland Legends seems like a much more natural fit. It’s a straightforward co-op experience in which a player tackles a mission with the help of his/her friend. It works simply because the shooting and AI in Rage are fantastic.
That’s not to say it doesn’t have its drawbacks. The biggest disappointment is that it isn’t tailored to promote good teamwork. It has occasional “interact with an object at the same time” moments and it lets you revive your fallen comrades, but otherwise it’s simply you going out to kill as many bandits as you can, while someone happens to be doing it with you.
It actually promotes selfish play, despite points being awarded for assists and for defending. The vast majority of your points come from killing, so it’s not uncommon to see two players trying to steal their opponent’s kill points by jumping in at the last moment. The game isn’t particularly effective at judging when assists happen either, so often you won’t even be rewarded for helping out your pals in their time of need. Loot can easily be hoarded by one player too.
If you can find a reliable mate to join you Wasteland Legends can be solid gold, and it should keep you entertained for a while. It has nine levels in total and they can be played on normal or nightmare difficulty.
Is worth it?
In summary, Wasteland Legends and Road Rage are welcome distractions away from the main singleplayer experience. They are perfectly serviceable, but they do fail to inspire. We certainly wouldn’t advise anyone to rush out to get Rage just for its online modes, but thankfully we are more than happy to recommend it for its excellent solo play.