When you do die however, Rage cues up a new and interesting mechanic. Along with your nanotrites, you were also upgraded with a defibrillator that not only shocks you back to life but also delivers a debilitating zap to everyone around you. This puts you right back into the fight without the need for a reload, but it has a long recharge time so you'll need to play it safe after using it. Sometimes however this only proves to delay the inevitable as you drop, pop back up and then simply get gunned down again for being in a bad spot the first time.
Aside from first person shooting, Rage splits its gameplay with driving. They called it The Wasteland for a reason and it's certainly not somewhere you'd want to hoof it around. You'll start out with a simple 4x4 and buggy, but as you complete missions and compete in races you get access to bigger and meaner cars with all manner of upgrades. Driving around the wasteland and busting up bandit patrols has a very Mad Max feel to it, and it's not something too many other games have tapped in to . The racing is also enjoyable enough that it could have done well released as a stand-alone downloadable game. Though I was personally a little disappointed that you can only purchase vehicle upgrades with racing certificates and you also only race with provided cars and items. Putting the racing winnings to use against the bandits in the wastes is fine and all, but that same progression should have ported over to the racing sections as well.
Rage's single player campaign will take you roughly 12-14 hours to complete, depending on how many of the side missions and races you complete. It's only a semi-open world, so there is not a lot of opportunity to explore. The game tries to encourage you to do so in the loading screens, but generally all you'll find is a door to some quest area that you are not allowed to enter yet. Another similar problem is the reuse of levels, frequently running through them in reverse. Now the game always gives you fair enough reasons for returning to these places, usually as side missions, and it speaks highly of the level design that they still feel tight to play, but it's still just playing the same area again. At least the levels look great though.
Probably Rage's best feature is its graphics, particularly the animations. While the backgrounds might seem to go on forever and really sells the degradation of the enviornment, it's the character animations that really shine. With most games are content with characters just walking, firing and crouching, Rage really pushes the envelope of movements. When shot in the leg, an enemy will stumble how you might expect or fire blindly around a corner if you're shooting near him. There are also alternate animations for the same or similar action, so it never quite leaves you with that familiar feeling over and over. The Wingstick, a bladed boomerang, will sometimes slice a head clean off or somewhat satisfyingly bury straight into an enemy's face causing them to slump and fall forward like a sack of wasteland potatoes.
The other highlights of this emphasis on model animations are the character interactions; you'll walk up to someone and they'll look up and acknowledge your presence before striking up a conversation complete with hand gestures and motions. This really sells them as a person and not simply a cutscene or as a zoomed in face to pick dialogue options too. If someone is interested in giving you a job, they might actually wave and call you over instead of just sitting under a glowing exclamation mark.
Bottom line: While the experience is not perfect, Rage is still an enjoyable re-entry into the post-apocalypse.
Recommendation: If you're not wholly sick of the post-apocalypse setting, give Rage a look.
This review is based on the 360 version of the game and only its single player portion as we haven't had the opportunity to try multiplayer yet.