Remember that next big shooter from the id guys? What was it called again? RAGE? Yes RAGE, the oft delayed post apocalyptic shooter that came out in October 2011, and unfortunately did not quite set the world on fire. A lot of people unfairly compared it to Borderlands which came before it due to the incredibly long development cycle. The release was also marred with driver issues, especially for people with ATI cards. Pretty much everything that could go wrong with the game did, and that left people with sour tastes in their mouths before even playing the game. This eventually led to people being very upset with the fairly weak story along with an abrupt and non-fulfilling end.
So we know the complaints, but what exactly did RAGE do right? First the game has the best combat you will find in a first person shooter. If there is one thing the people over at id know what to do it’s combat. Enemies react specifically to how they are shot and they will grab a shoulder or limp towards you in an attempt to stab you. The enemies will also use all aspects of the environment to attack, be it climbing walls, taking cover, or calling for backup; the enemies are very well done. Games like Bioshock take far too many bullets to kill something and Call of Duty game take too few, RAGE has found the right mix of how much damage an opponent can take. RAGE also has the best feeling shotgun I have ever played with, chipping away armor with a shotgun is far too much fun.
I’m not one of the people that hated RAGE, but I could see where its problems were and a lot of complaints were justified. However, there is a lot of good game in there if you can see past the mistakes. I believe id tried to do too much, which in a way is admirable because they went out of their Doom or Quake comfort zone. The end result felt like a game that wanted to be a scenic racer, open world RPG, and shooter that really only shined on the shooting and scenic parts.
I had heard the game did not do well in sales, to the point that there were rumors that work on Doom 4 was being cancelled. These rumors were debunked regarding Doom 4 but the general consensus was RAGE did not live up to its expectations. After I beat the game in October I left it as is figuring any DLC will probably never happen. Well it took a while but this past week, out of nowhere, RAGE: The Scorchers DLC shows up as a new release on the Steam (also Xbox Live and PS3 Marketplace) store! It was listed as only five dollars so I figured it was worth it to take another trip through the world of RAGE.
The Scorchers adds about six levels to the game through a new quest-line. This scenario begins back at the Hagar camp where you first start early in the game. It continues a few levels through most of Wellspring and you are able to complete the quest-line after you have unlocked Mutant Bash TV. The game will lock your quests until you reach their parts in the main story. The DLC adds one new gun to the game, the nail gun, which serves three purposes: a rapid fire nail gun, rebar which basically impales enemies, and the rail gun that can see through walls (think the Arnold movie Eraser). The new episode of Mutant Bash TV is part of the quest line for the scorchers but it is an all new arena. They have added an “Ultra Nightmare” mode to make the game harder which addresses the complaints of the game being too easy even on “Nightmare” difficulty. Finally they give you the ability to select chapters and play after the ending which can help you get the 100% game achievements.
If you liked the original RAGE and wanted more then this is the DLC for you. You are given the nail gun in the first level of the new quest-line so you have the advantage of a very powerful gun very early in the game. This is especially helpful if you plan to try the new Ultra Nightmare mode from the beginning, any advantage is very helpful on this difficulty as money and ammo is quite scarce. Just like the original game the new landscapes, caves, and enemy hideouts are breathtaking. The idtech 5 engine is the greatest looking technology that will never get licensed out to non-Zenimax companies. Once you beat all the DLC levels you will unlock a new room in Wellspring called the Trophy Room. In here will be Sarah, our new friend who plays both the bad-ass scantily clad girl, and the damsel in distress in the same storyline. She is accompanied by walls and shelves of trophies depending on what achievements you have unlocked.
The new weapon is great fun and is an instant add to my weapon wheel pretty much throughout the game. Its base setting I find pretty useless which is the rapid fire nail gun. It doesn’t do much damage and you can easily empty a clip of fifty nails into a mutant before it dies. The rebar is quite powerful, but that power is offset by a very long reload time as it has to reload after every shot. If you want to see some fun ragdoll shots the rebar does not disappoint. It takes about one hit anywhere on a non-armored, non-boss target to kill it, and if you get a head-shot the head will stick to a wall behind the corpse where you can loot it for the rebar back. The rebar is most effective on targets that don’t move too much as it isn’t the fastest moving ammo, but it is great for sniping exposed heads of hiding enemies. The final form of the nail gun is the rail. This is just like that gun in Eraser, you scope it and it sees people through walls. You fire and they die. The ammo is extremely expensive but it’s a great fallback plan if you get overwhelmed.
The Scorchers Questline:
The scorchers quest-line will take you from the Hagar camp, to Wellspring, to Mutant Bash TV, and then into the Scorchers base. If one of your RAGE complaints was the lack of bosses you will be happy to know there is a new one at the end of the campaign. I also would highly suggest you stock up on a lot of ammo before you take on the Scorchers base. The game is pretty strictly on rails so don’t expect too much exploration. You will see beautiful scenery though as they continue to show the amazing abilities of RAGE’s engine. The campaign adds a few new enemies in the Scorchers clan as well as a new type of mutant that can take quite a beating. The campaign is best described as more RAGE, if you liked it before you will be satisfied, if you weren’t a fan I doubt this will change your mind.
When I first finished RAGE I found I had a ton of leftover money and more ammo than enemies to kill. This has been addressed in the Ultra Nightmare difficulty. The ammo and money is a lot more scarce and the prices are higher. The enemies will also move faster so landing those big shots gets a lot tougher. A couple of bullets will kill you and your defibrillator takes a lifetime to recharge. It is exactly the challenge people wanted so id delivered there.
There is a new gambling option as the Jackpots casino is now available to people who get to the third leg of the Scorchers storyline. You pretty much play video roulette on the various machines in the building. I was never the biggest fan of the RAGE gambling scene but a couple of achievements can be earned if you do it long enough and luck out. It is also worth mentioning that Jackpots is owned by a little person with a huge saucer on her head.
The Scorchers is a very solid addon campaign for a very polarizing game. The bottom line with this DLC is that it doesn’t do anything to improve the story or ending, it just adds to it. If you are okay with basically having a couple more hours of RAGE then this is very much worth the five dollar entrance fee. They may have used assets that were cut from the original game but it is all original to the player anyway, it looks really good, and plays fine. I would suggest if you liked RAGE pick this up, it may convince the powers that be over at Bethesda to put out a few more DLC campaigns for the game. It was a great ride coming back to the Wasteland, hope to do it again soon!