RAGE: Not Enraging Enough

By Shamus
on Feb 20, 2012
Filed under:
Game Reviews

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It’s pretty common for games to use the “the bad guy shows up at the end of the tutorial to murder your family / village”, and I’m usually very critical of it. It’s a brute-force approach to the problem of making the player care about the villain. It’s a cheap and easy tool for writers who aren’t deft enough to wield the more subtle tools of world-building and characterization. I might not know how to make a victim NPC that you will care about or relate to, but I bet I can provoke some sort of response from you if I make the NPC victim YOUR MOTHER!

RAGE does not have this problem. RAGE has the opposite problem. RAGE never bothers to make us care about the bad guys at all. The bad guys in this case are called “The Authority” and they are opposed by “The Resistance”. Now, RAGE (You know what? I’m done typing the name of this game in all caps. Correct or not, it’s just too shouty.) takes place on a wasteland Earth after an asteroid apocalypse. The world is smashed and most people aren’t even literate. It’s completely valid to have simplistic names for your factions like this, provided they’re suitably interesting. But the agendas of these two sides are just as generic and shallow as their names.

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Even going into the final battle, I still didn’t feel anything towards my adversaries. Oh sure, the people you meet will tell you that the authority is bad and that you should stay away from them, but only in vague, non-specific ways. It’s not that the writer broke the “show, don’t tell” rule. This is an even worse problem, where we’re not even told why we should hate them. I can’t recall a single character who named some specific hardship, loss, or setback caused by The Authority.

In fact, most of the visible problems in this world are caused by bandits. Bandits regularly attack and kill settlers. (It’s not clear where the bandits come from. 100% of non-settlers are men, so it seems like this problem should have sorted itself out a while ago. But whatever.) They’re a danger to you and they’re a danger to the other settlers. Fighting the Authority while bandits are on the loose is like mowing the lawn while your house is burning down.

rage_sally.jpg

The idea is that some people were put into suspended animation in great underground arks. A hundred years later, you emerge to find this savage frontier. Eventually you learn that one of your fellow ark-people had hijacked the program. General Martin Cross set his own ark to emerge early, and he used his pre-asteroid tech to nominally seize control of society. We learn that other ark survivors tend to join up with this guy.

We’re never told why Cross did this. Is he crazy? Did he just see an opportunity to make himself king of the world? Does he think he’s the only one that can make sure humanity survives? Are we dealing with a misguided man like Wallace Breen, or a crazy evil asshole like Lucien Fairfax? The game doesn’t tell us.

Heck, I could make a good case for The Authority being the good guys:

  1. The other ark survivors sign up with The Authority. These are civilized people from the Old World, so they must have some reason for trusting Cross.
  2. You break into an Authority prison to save a member of the resistance, who you find to be fed and healthy. He doesn’t seem to have been tortured or mistreated. Heck, they have feral mutants in jail cells, and those things are mindless chaotic evil. Talk about being against the death penalty. I think even the most gentle hippie can sleep at night after blowing away some mutants.
  3. The Authority rolls into town late in the game and seems to take over. They don’t hurt anyone. They don’t take any property. They don’t disrupt business. The only thing they do is make off with the mayor, and he’s an obviously evil scumbag who jerks you around for his own benefit.
  4. Aside from that one incident with the mayor, you never encounter The Authority except when you’re invading their turf. So The Authority is better at minding their own business than the player.

Of course, The Authority is evil, because the game says so. There’s also a plot about how they’re behind the production of mutants. That’s pretty bad, although we don’t know why, or what their goals are, or how producing mutants might advance those goals. By the end of the game I didn’t want to kill the authority. I just wanted to swing by, talk to them, and hear their side of the story.

The dialog in this game is really loose. It’s a bit too wordy and lacking in color. I found myself wanting to re-write bits of it, just to inject some flavor into it. The model designs are colorful, interesting, and varied, but the words coming out of their mouths are flat, numerous, and obvious.

rage_blather.jpg

Consider this bit of dialog:

You’re part of the old world, not part of their new world. Of course, there are people who stand up against them, not many of them. They call themselves the Resistance. Not that I profess to have any special knowledge of them.

Now, it’s always important to trim your writing down to the essentials. This is doubly important when you’re dealing with spoken dialog. If the character keeps talking after the player has gotten the idea, the player is going to get impatient. They will start smacking the “skip” key, because they sense the game is wasting their time. Consider my re-write:

You’re not part of their new world. Of course, a few people stand up against them. They call themselves the Resistance. (Beat.) Not that I would know anything about that.

Note that I didn’t remove any of the exposition, I just tightened it up. That trim would make this second reading shorter by several seconds. Now, if I were the writer I would take that space I just saved and use it to play around with the “brilliant eccentric” character concept they’ve got going here. Maybe throw in some humor or a bit of character flavor. The point is, writing spoken dialog is an exercise in efficiency, and if the same artistry was given to the words as to the character designs, this would have been dynamite.

I know it seems silly to beat up on an id Software game for the story, but that’s only because we’ve never played an id game with great writing and it’s not always obvious just how much we’re missing. I think if we ever played one where the storytelling was on par with the visuals, we’d never want to go back.

As the game becomes more visually authentic it becomes harder to ignore lackluster writing. When your NPCs stop being gameplay abstractions and become fully realized characters, then they need things like coherent motivation and engaging dialog. Otherwise your visuals are only going to make your writing seem that much worse.

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From the Archives:

  1. Arvind says:

    Pretty much agree with the whole article.

    I guess the major problem with RAGE has is that it’s stuck between designs – like half of the people at id wanted to make an exposition driven game, while the other half wanted it to be old school, and nobody could make up their mind before the release.

    EDIT: I just realized that you could draw a lot of parallels between Rage and Bioshock. Both had huge legacies to live up to, both had a kitchen sink approach to design (crafting, minigames).

  2. SolkaTruesilver says:

    It’s possible that RAGE is a Libertarian propagandist pamphlet. It shows us the benefits of living without a government to oppress us with their “organisation” and “regulation”.

    I mean, who does the Authority think they are, proposing a centralized administrative structure for the new civilisation! Clearly, any form of formalized armed force is purely meant to oppress free citizens and take away their guns/means to defend themselves.

    Fight the good fight, and give the right to the settlers to fend for themselves without any organisation! Huzzah!

    Or maybe the protagonist is simply a libertarian psychopath who want to destroy any form of authority. Who knows what ark sleep does to your mind?

    • Shamus says:

      “Libertarian propagandist pamphlet.”

      If what you say is true, then it would be an ANTI-Libertarian propagandist pamphlet, by depicting Libertarians as their foes always do. (Crazed, selfish, anti-authority.)

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      That seems to be reaching a bit to make the story (or lack of) fit an interpretation, not that I wholly disagree. In a lot of games the protagonist is either actively fighting or subverting authority, even when the authority figures aren’t your actual enemies.

      For example Mass Effect in which even playing a paragon character this theme is present and as a Renegade you’re pretty much giving the middle-finger to The Man while working for him. Also games tend to present these authority figures as meddlesome and interfering with getting the job done.

      However, there’s a lot more to libertarianism than just a contempt for authority, so I find the interpretation perhaps a bit unfair? A complete lack of governance and opposition to any form of organized government is more the anarchists shtick.

      Also to use a tired cliché: One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        I am sure there is more to libertarism than the caricature I just depicted, please don’t think I lean either way just based on my post.

        I am simply against the stupid and biased depiction of any ideology (either Libertarian in RAGE or Authoritarian with the Enclave).

        Thing is, I just find it much interesting that the side that seem to be slandered happens to be the protagonist’ side. So I can only suppose the game designers were genuinely trying to show the Rebellion as the Good Guys, the Authority as the Bad Guys, and just fucked it up.

        • KremlinLaptop says:

          Oooh!

          In that case I apologize, I read your initial comment with a different tone than the one you wrote it with.

          I agree that it is interesting that they ended up like this. The more I think about it there are a few games where the Good Guys as a group end up being one-dimensional and suffer for it.

          One of the more egregious examples to my mind is Half Life 2 in which the villain is on the verge of being sympathetic, he makes reasonable arguments, and the player can understand that Breen in his own way has good intentions (wanting humanity to ‘survive’ in one form or another rather than having the aliens just wipe us all out) and then you have the good guys…

          The Resistance is beautifully fleshed out in the practical sense, you get a feeling of it being a real resistance movement with the underground railroad, black mesa east, ravenholm, all of those outposts and so forth that just made it feel real. For me it begins to fall apart the more you see of the Resistance, because the game showed the complex practical side of the Resistance it then neither shows nor tells you much if anything about the less practical side. It seems like the Resistance simply came into existence after the events of Black Mesa and grew without any strong leadership or organization.

          I can accept that a sudden resistance movement wouldn’t have figureheads, much organization, or leadership, but the one in the HL universe has had twenty years between games. Were they all just waiting for Gordon Freeman to show up? The big problem I had with the Resistance is that there was no Breen equivalent for them, no one I really felt fit the role.

          The Resistance in HL2 doesn’t come off at all as being even potentially the ‘bad guys’ like The Resistance in RAGE could be seen, but I would say it also suffers from a lack of depth.

          • SolkaTruesilver says:

            While there might be arguments said that defends Breen’s side regarding if he was right or not to do what he did, I don’t think we can stomach the Combine Collaborator Regime that oppressed Earth. Ultimately, they were the very cause of everything that went bad in the world. They bomb towns with Headcrabs, they steal the ocean’s water, they are a brutal occupation force.

            Fighting them might mean the end of Humanity in the end (if the Combine decides to step in full force), but what is the alternative? Becoming robomooks in their army to conquer yet another world, while we have no population growth whatsoever until we become extinct?

            Compared to what Shamus tells us about the Authority, who seems to be simply a government figure, an interesting mix of the NCR and Caesar’s Legion, that embodies the ideals that unity means strenght, and that civilization NEEDS strenght to survive the catastrophe that befelled the Earth.

            They aren’t the source of Humanity’s struggle, they simply have their own solution to the problem, and because this solution means giving government to everybody, they are… evil?

            CURSE YOU QIN SHI HUANG! China was great before you unified it!!!

            • KremlinLaptop says:

              Oh, true and I didn’t mean that the Combine would be a viable alternative — where as with RAGE we really don’t find out enough about The Authority to make that sort of judgement — just that both games have badly defined Good Guys but RAGE really suffers for it.

              HL2 gets away with the Resistance being a bit one-dimensional (outside of the practical aspects which are beautifully shown) by having the Combine be a real threat and giving them Breen as a spokesperson who is interesting, intelligent and in his misguided way trying to do what he thinks is best. Having an enemy that is well defined gives the player a good reason to want to be part of the Resistance.

              By the same token if just the Resistance in RAGE was given a strong back story, memorable characters, clear goals etc it would make The Authority a convincing enemy because we’d assume The Authority must be what’s keeping the Resistance from achieving all these things.

              • SolkaTruesilver says:

                Except that having the Resistance as a definite faction and faction name means they are, ultimately, a REACTIVE faction. They were created to resist the influence and power of the Authority.

                You could make the case that if the Authority would have never stepped in, there would never have been a Resistance in the first place.

                Ultimately, you needed unification of the free settlements into a cohesive force to resist the Authority. Thus, the Resistance is going to resist unification by… unificating! YAY!! Again, I have a hard time seeing how the Authority are a bad thing to happen to the Earth.

                • KremlinLaptop says:

                  But why! Why do they want to/need to resist the power and influence of the Authority? Why is unification so bad? What do they want instead? What are their long term goals? What, why, how, who!

                  A resistance movement is a reaction to something, but you don’t need to clearly define what that something is as long as you make the desires of your resistance movement convincing.

                  In essence I’m agreeing with you here. The Authority don’t seem so bad, but that’s because The Resistance doesn’t seem like they’re all that good. A very good narrative would define both sides well and give the player reason for WHY the bad guys are bad and WHY the good guys are good.

                  HL2 did a very convincing job of making the bad guys actually bad, and because of that it made good guys seem really good… even though in my opinion the Resistance in HL2 wasn’t very thought out (seeming more like the Gordon Freeman fanclub that had been waiting for him to return for 20 years).

                  In RAGE? The bad guys don’t seem especially bad and the good guys don’t seem especially good. If the good guys did seem especially good, though? Well for me that would make the enemy more convincing. In my opinion, you can have a monolithic enemy that you don’t find out much about — “The Man” that you want to subvert or fight — if you give the good guys enough depth.

    • Dragomok says:

      I am not an expert on political ideologies, but isn’t that more Anarchy than Libertarianism?
      I mean, judging by the way you present them, the Resistance seems to be figthing against any type of a government rather than a government that doesn’t offer near-total freedom.

    • W.D. Conine says:

      You seem to not know the difference between Libertarians and Anarchists.

      Libertarians want a government to protect and enforce rights with a rational pursuit of happiness. They simply want the government small. As long as what the individual does only affects them or those affected chose to and were not forced to, it should be none of the government’s concern.

      Anarchists are the ones who want no centralized government or armed force. They are the ones who dislike any form of superior authority.

      I understand what your saying but understand the words you use. Libertarians and Anarchists are similar to an extent, sure, but they are still very different.

      • Dragomok says:

        Ah, I’ve been samurai’d.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        I rarely see anyone supporting Anarchy openly, so I decided to make the joke with Libertarian instead.

        Plus, a lot of people have strange twisted visions of what Libertarism is actually about. So I decided to push it a bit :-P

        • Methermeneus says:

          Going with the earlier comment about misusing a strawman, it could still very well be Libertarian propaganda; although Libertarians are slightly more likely to know what Libertarianism is really about, Joe Average is pretty likely not to understand a political concept correctly even if it’s the political viewpoint he claims to espouse. Or, it could be that the flaws Shamus is talking about are deliberate, and the (minimally-interfering in the lives of those they claim to govern) Authority are actually the good guy Libertarians fighting the evil Anarchist protagonist…

      • Soylent Dave says:

        The idea of an anarchist organisation is a bit of a strawman in itself.

        “We’ll meet on tuesdays. I’ll bring the flag”

        Not very anarchic, is it?

  3. Wolverine says:

    How did you like the combat, weapons, tools etc.? Will you continue in this review or is this the whole thing?
    Also, your Lucien Fairfax link is not working…

  4. John Magnum says:

    I actually thought Rage’s tutorial section was moderately effective, from a storytelling standpoint. Maybe it was just John Goodman’s voice work, but I still wanted to help him and didn’t really want to leave him. Then everything kind of fell apart. Metatextually. In-text, I don’t think the Authority would’ve ever come for me even if I’d just stood around in Goodman’s village for the next million hours.

    • Sagretti says:

      A big part of the problem there is that the first threats we see with Goodman are the bandits and the mutants. For half the game, these are your only true threats, and you see them commit ritualistic sacrifice, cannibalism, and there’s possibly even some lightly implied rape. The Authority seem like the nicest, most civilized people in the world in comparison.

      I think the story would have benefited a lot more if it made the mutants, bandits, and Authority equal threats, and have the finale lead up to having each side wipe each other out in some huge confrontation. Some emotional stake in the game would be nice as well, as the only reason you have for doing anything seems to be “I told you so, so go do it!”

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Rage wouldve been such a better game without all that fluff.Crafting was pointless,gambling was pointless(and too easy),knife minigame was fun,but also pointless,card game was unfun and pointless,story was pointless.Enemy movement and death animations were quite fun though.

    • Shamus says:

      A small defense of crafting:

      1) Craft yourself some fat mammas
      2) Put them into your sidearm
      3) Give them away at high velocity

      I enjoyed those more than I probably should have. Maybe not enough to justify the whole crafting thing, but I had fun with it. :)

      • Sagretti says:

        My big annoyance with crafting was that, like most of the game really, it just petered out at the end. You get most of the interesting crafted bullets early, and the last few schematics are things like upgraded turret and temp damage boost. Weapons felt that way, too, really, gaining a rocket launcher half way through and not getting anything more impressive after. The entire game just seems to build towards something awesome, then just collapses right at the point it should start hitting some kind of climax.

        • Pete says:

          (note: havent played rage)

          My guess would be they were trying to avoid the kind of situation like in DX:HR which gives you a plasma rifle right AFTER you fight the last enemy in the game who is at all a justifiable target.

          • Eric says:

            I think it’s more just that id wanted to encourage different play-styles but didn’t realize how that would impact pacing, or their game and level design as a whole.

            Here’s the thing. If you are making a shooter, where is most of the pacing going to come from? Not counting individual encounter designs, it’s the enemies that you fight (problems and obstacles to overcome) and the weapons you have available (tools and options for solving problems). If you give all those weapons too early on, and the enemy variety runs dry, you end up with nothing to keep you engaged.

            Even in more story-driven games like Half-Life 2, that story isn’t a stand-in for proper game pacing, it just enhances it. We still get new and shiny weapons through the game at regular intervals, all of which are useful. The SMG gives you newfound stopping power, the Shotgun renders previously dangerous enemies dead in a single headshot, the Crossbow makes long-range engagements possible, etc. The game never forces you to use them, but they are all viable in different situations and that’s what makes them interesting to use.

            Moreover, consider how introducing new types of enemies to fight keeps gameplay interesting. You get the Rocket Launcher roughly halfway through Half-Life 2, and use it to fight Gunships. However, later in the game you also need to use it to take down Striders, who are more difficult and also require a different set of tactics to best. Smaller changes, like the tougher Combine troops that fire the plasma balls at you, make you reconsider your usual Shotgun-rush strategy.

            That’s really what RAGE is missing. It needed new types of enemies that required different methods to bring down. It needed to give you a real reason to use all that gear you had – the Shotgun, Sniper Rifle and Crossbow differentiated themselves because there were encounters designed around using them, but the others were never situationally better than any other options. The game did a good job of introducing its craftable items, but then made the mistake of never giving you a reason to use them beyond very specific scenarios (tell me if you actually used EMP Grenades for anything other than taking out power generators, or RC Bomb Cars, or Electro Bolts, etc.).

            Come to think of it, I have to wonder if that was a design consideration made by the limitations of gamepads. RAGE uses a radial-type menu for gear and weapons, with four slots on each… maybe id never expected players to use more than four weapons, so never designed situations to force you to use more than a couple of them? Could be a case of players also just “not getting” certain weapons and so they never really built situations around them and left them in anyway.

            I think comparisons to BioShock are apt. BioShock suffered from the same problem of giving players lots of cool toys but not varying the actual level design and enemies to make taking advantage of them interesting. BioShock did a better job by making ammo types more relevant (and you probably used most weapons in taking down Big Daddies), and RAGE doesn’t even have a Big Daddy or other tough enemy to make using all that gear worthwhile.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Yes,you could craft some nice ammo,but its just busywork that couldve been replaced with more varied droppings from enemies for a much better effect.When you are able to craft 999 bullets for your gun ,swapping between ammo becomes meaningless.Theres no point in conserving your special ammo for tough battles.Its not pointless in the sense that you cant make anything good,its pointless in the sense that after about middle of the game you will have made everything that youll ever need.

        Really,rage suffers from the same problems that plagued the remake of wolfenstein:It tries to cram in a bunch of things that arent needed for its core gameplay just because other games are doing it as well.

        • John Magnum says:

          Additional point: There ARE no tough battles that you might want to conserve ammo for. Aside from the boss fight where you get the first rocket launcher, the enemies are all within a very narrow threat band. They tend to have pretty similar health and damage output levels. There aren’t really any elite enemies that hit hard whom you need to take down quick, or minion masters, or anything. Just a bunch of somewhat-beefy ranged mooks.

          I think a lot of its combat has some wonky conflicting cues. When you have a crafting system and an economy and resource-gathering, you might think that ammo is going to be scarce and you’ll have to make a tactical choice about which ammo to make and which ammo to spend. But even on the hardest difficulty, you get a ton of ammo and none of the enemies really require anything heavy to take them out. So it’s more of a Bioshock thing where all your weapons can take out all the enemies, and it’s a matter of finding a few you really like and choosing to use them.

          It’s still pretty interesting, and has a lot of ideas I’d like to see show up in other games. Rage 2 would be a pretty interesting prospect for me, as is Doom 4.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Whats funny about that is how rage was marketed as “by the creators of doom and quake”,two games in which you had enemies that could kill you 3 times with a single hit.

            • Michael says:

              The thing that really weirded me out was how spongy the normal mooks were. I guess we kinda saw that in Doom 3, but there it kinda made sense because it was zombies and demons. Here, it’s a guy with a pair of goggles, leather pants, and tattoos. Can you tell me which of these grants that random raider the ability to shrug off half a mag of assault rifle ammo, or multiple consecutive headshots from the sniper rifle?

        • X2Eliah says:

          Enemy droppings as ammo? Now that’s a game idea I can’t get behind.

  6. Qwazes says:

    Bandits clearly reproduce with binary fission. It also explains why they all look the same.

  7. Eruanno says:

    I spent most of RAGE (yay, caps!) wondering who the hell these “Authority”-people were, and what their motivations were. And by the time the endgame came around, I figured that I might finally get some exposition from someone higher-up and see what they were actually DOING. What their motivations were. At least see their faces, if only in passing. Overhear something, maybe even set up a cliffhanger.

    Nope.

    Shot some dudes, killed some fancy mutants with guns for arms, pushed some buttons and… credits roll. What? Not even a bad guy-speech? Not even a boss battle? Nothing? Who was the leader of these guys anyway? Second-in-command? Anyone at all?

    • Eric says:

      RAGE is just a bizarre game on all fronts with its storytelling. It has masses and masses of dialogue, but none of it is very interesting or clarifies what’s going on. It has fantastic visuals but, save for some differences in art design between the Authority and everyone else (black = evil!) they never use it to advance the narrative or plot (except perhaps the two towns being taken over). It has great voice acting that hits all the right notes, but you never care about anything that’s going on or anyone in the game.

      I just do not understand how this happened, how you could make such a colossal investment into creating a certain universe, characters, etc. and then completely fudge it when it comes to the execution. There is no dramatic build-up throughout the game, just cool stuff to shoot for its own sake. If id wanted to make a straight-up shooter, that’d be awesome – but then, they should have made Doom 4 in the style of Doom 2, and not bothered with any of the writing, quests, etc.

      RAGE starts out with you waking from a deep, centuries-long sleep, and as you emerge, you witness the vast, ruined wasteland. It’s a striking and compelling scene. Then, monsters attack you out of nowhere, a nice man rescues you, gives you a gun, and tells you to take out a nest of bandits single-handedly. There is just this incredibly absurd disconnect between what the game wants the player to do, and the story being told.

      Here’s an alternate setup: so you’re rescued by Hagar, who takes you back to his settlement… only to find it’s come under attack by mutants. Hagar’s daughter is wounded, or something, and so he prepares a counter-attack, wherein the player has to cause a diversion by blowing the bandit hideout up with some grenades (tutorial!). There could be some light combat, the introduction of stealth, Lock Grinders, etc., all that would still fit in just fine.

      The raid is successful and the bandits are routed, but upon return, it seems the Authority got wind of the raid and has sent troops to investigate. You see the Authority’s cold, goal-oriented handling of the situation manifest as them mistreating the residents. Maybe their leader is seen on a holo-screen saying something crass and despicable about the people of the Wasteland. Just to show how mean they are, one of the Authority troops shoots and kills Hagar’s injured daughter out of “mercy”. When they’re gone, Hagar introduces you to the idea of the Resistance, and sets up the “travel to Wellspring” portion of the story to meet with a contact of his.

      I could keep going, but you get the idea. In five minutes, I’ve come up with a more effective and compelling setup for the villain, created an emotional bond to the Wasteland people, and given the player motive for joining the Resistance. I guess hindsight is always 20/20 but it’s just ridiculous that nobody at id were able to see these obvious structural issues with the storytelling before they actually entered the production phase.

      • Eruanno says:

        This! There is all this great voice acting, a nice-looking world and… it feels like they just wrote the skeleton of a story and never bothered to bring any actual writers to make it sound interesting or at all engaging. Grrr.

  8. LadyTL says:

    Ironically, they made a game novel for RAGE that explains all of this. I enjoyed the novel more than the game and the novel made the game more fun because I understood more of what was going on. I kept waiting for the events in the novel to happen though since it was the same plot.
    That was disappointing.

    • John Magnum says:

      Annoying. I’d hope that if they’d actually come up with decent answers to questions like “Why is the Authority doing what they’re doing? Why does my character care? How are his actions stopping them? How are his actions helping other people?”, then at SOME point in the five or whatever years of development, they’d have worked out a way to include them in the game itself.

    • Michael says:

      Honestly, tie in novels that are necessary to understand a game’s narrative drive me absolutely batshit. I think it may have just been the whole mess with the first two Mass Effect novels, but the idea that you need to read the novel to understand the story makes me froth at the mouth.

      That said Rage does kinda make sense as written, it’s just kind of bland and pointless.

      I guess it kinda comes down to, if you’re going to put a story in your game, put the story in your game. Don’t ask me to go read some tie in novel to make sense of it, or care about out.

      • Thomas says:

        I’m guessing they just get some schmuck (before the game is finished presumably?), give him the outline of their world, and becuase he’s a decent writer and it’s easier to write stories, you end up with a more detailed story that outshines the game. And then the other case is when the writer writes after the game and they get to see all the plot holes and specifically think, well I’m going to fix that with my boo

        • Michael says:

          Yeah, that is almost certainly the norm. It’s just this “the novel makes sense of it”, that really gets me. No offense to you or anyone else in the conversation.

          EDIT: Beyond that, if the story in Rage doesn’t work (and it doesn’t), saying, look here’s this book that makes sense of it is kind of trending towards sanctioned fanfiction.

    • Winter says:

      This is what id does, though. They made a pretty cool novel for Quake, too. It explained a lot of the stuff that was going on. The game featured none of the explanation. I’m not surprised to hear the novel for Rage did the same thing.

  9. MechaCrash says:

    The impression I have gotten from what people have said about Rage is that it’s a typical id product: they’re selling a tech demo that could loosely be called a game. The money isn’t in the game’s sales, it’s in licensing the engines to people who are better at the artistry side than the technical side (or at least think they are) and have the money to spare for it.

    • Infinitron says:

      id is no longer licensing their engine to third parties. Haven’t for a while now.

      • Eruanno says:

        …So Rage is completely pointless? Damn it.

      • MechaCrash says:

        Oh, really? Huh, shows what I know then. I guess id just can’t find good writers or isn’t even trying, then.

      • Michael says:

        Honestly, the weird part is everything about Rage screams “tech demo” to me. There’s a lot of really pointless mechanics there that seem to just be there to say “look at this cool stuff you can do with this engine”.

        When I posted my review of it on Escapist User Reviews, I actually got chewed out for someone over that, but honestly, all of these elements don’t make sense to me in any other context.

        The card game mechanic really sticks out to me, it’s too simple to be a real diversion, and there’s no point to it, but it does say, “hey look, you could stick a card game mini game in your game and it would work”.

        EDIT: Maybe ID doesn’t know how to make games, and all this time we were playing their Tech demos, we thought they were tech demos by design?

        • Infinitron says:

          Well, I’m sure John Romero didn’t think he was making a tech demo when he designed Doom and Quake.
          Carmack may have had a different opinion.

          • Michael says:

            No, you’ve got me there: as I recall, the whole “they make tech demos not games” things started sometime around either Quake 3 or Doom 3. The original engine Doom games are still very solid (if (now) primitive) games, as is the original Quake (I never actually played through Quake 2).

  10. Ambitious Sloth says:

    For me I saw the whole Good, Evil, Bandit conflict to be pretty comparable to Borderlands. You have have your good guys. You have your bad guys, but they don’t show up till the end. You have your bandits doing bandit things and bandit-ing like bandits. I don’t really want to talk about this though. A lot people makes comparisons between the two games, but for me they’re are pretty different.

    I do agree with you though. I had no reason to care about fighting The Authority, before they came in and kidnapped the mayor. Even during and afterwards I was just sort of like “S’up dudes?” While I walked past them.

    Still though, I had fun playing. Just felt disaffected towards the big bad guys.

    • John Magnum says:

      At least with Borderlands, there’s a clear idea of what everyone wants. You and Atlas both want Epically Vast Loads of Cash. The Authority wants… something nefarious. The Resistance wants… something opposed to the Authority’s nefariousness. With Borderlands, there’s an obvious goal and it makes sense why different parties pursuing the goal would want to block the others from achieving it. Hence, it makes sense that there would be conflict between the Vault Hunters and Atlas.

      And Atlas shows up a lot earlier than very near the end. You hear from Commandant Steele as soon as you beat Sledge, one of the very first bosses. You come across the Crimson Lance repeatedly, and then in the runup to endgame they’re EVERYWHERE thanks to the steel rain.

      Unless by bad guys you mean the Eridians, which would be kind of weird.

      Borderlands does have the problem, like Rage and Fallout, of thirty billion bandits per townsperson.

      • Eric says:

        I’m willing to forgive the “bandit problem” in a game like Borderlands because it’s clear from the get-go how patently ridiculous it is – it doesn’t intend to be taken seriously at all, so I just shut my brain off and have fun. The jokes are entertaining, the character designs are neat, you get to blow stuff up in cool locations, and that’s enough because the game never sets you up to expect anything more.

        Fallout 3 has the same problem, but it affects the game far more simply because the game demands we take it seriously. A big problem is that, as an action-RPG, Fallout 3 basically needs to have combat every X minutes to stay interesting (it’s a shooter with an open world, so what else is there to do?). So, who do you fight in the wasteland? Enemy number one: bandits. They’re fun to fight, they’re morally reprehensible so players won’t feel conflicted about killing them, and they’re appropriate to the setting. But, of course, it also makes no goddamn sense, which is a problem because Fallout 3 tries oh-so-hard to make sense.

        New Vegas was much smarter about it. It set itself in a warzone, more or less. Most of the enemies you fought were either soldiers or wildlife, not miscellaneous bandits. The Mojave was more populated and thus concepts like raiders made a bit more sense, as did the idea of organized military forces. There were farms and production facilities for other types of goods, and an implied sense of an economy and trade. In general, there was less major combat as well, and very few actual bandit lairs. This all worked to make a setting that was far more believable (even if I think the Fiends were still a bit contrived), without necessarily hurting the gameplay. Sure, Joe Madden won’t be able to mouth-breathe his way through a firefight every 3 minutes, but it was a very good compromise.

        • Shamus says:

          The really odd thing is that Borderlands DID have a good (YMMV) justification for all the bandits. They used to be criminal slave labor in the mining facilities, and when Atlas was done they just cut everyone loose.

          Which means the comical Borderlands has more coherent world-building than the gritty Rage.

          Sigh.

          • Michael says:

            It’s been a while since I played through Borderlands, but as I recall pretty much all of its writing was better than Rage’s.

            There are a lot of characters from Borderlands I still recall pretty clearly over a year since I played it last, and there are still a few memorable quotes, particularly from General Knoxx, and a few from Tannis.

            In contrast, I can’t remember the name of a single character from Rage. I remember John Goodman doing voice acting, but I actually can’t remember the character’s name, and I can’t remember anyone saying anything particularly memorable from Rage.

            This is obviously very subjective, and the writing in Borderlands certainly wasn’t good, but at least it had it’s own personality.

            EDIT: For reference, I played through Rage for the first and only time last month.

            • John Magnum says:

              I loved Tannis and Knoxx.

            • Naota says:

              Agreed – Borderlands’ major failing was not in the strength of its writing, but in the presentation format. The world felt more static and artificial than an early MMORPG. Far too much of the plot was shoved at you in big pages of expository text as quest briefings. This couldn’t be easily digested unless you wanted to put the gameplay completely on hold while you scrolled through it all, and was very hard to correlate to your in-game actions.

              More often than not, especially in coop, most people I know just skipped over the written parts completely and as a result had almost no justification for a given quest’s objectives (which isn’t as bad as it sounds considering how most of the objectives felt like throwaway exp dump quests from an MMO).

              Only in the later DLC “episodes” did you start to see something resembling a halfway decent narrative worked into Borderlands’ actual gameplay, which is probably why so many people have fond memories of Knoxx, Scooter, and Tannis, but can’t even remember the names of the antagonists from the original storyline.

          • Jarenth says:

            Also: if you were born in a world that had thirty raiders to each regular townie, which side would you join?

  11. Packie says:

    I’m not sure if it’s similar but Metro 2033, another post-apocalyptic shooter but it’s set in Russia, sorta shares the same problem with RAGE of having villains with vaguely defined goals. You have two antagonistic factions, The Nazis and the Communists, who have been at war since the apocalypse. Why? While that question sorta answers itself if you know anything about World War 2 and have read the book it’s based from but why are they fighting each other in the midst of mutants, radiation and anomalies? The game never really explains that.

    I also like how the game lampshades about the whole thing by having the protagonist basically saying “Even the apocalypse didn’t stop these idiots from killing each other…”.

    To Metro’s credit, they did manage to create sympathetic villains by making them act and talk like actual human beings instead of mustache-twirling morons like Lucien from Fable 2 or The Illusive man. Some of the conversations that you’ll overhear from the game’s random mooks are fascinating(well, at least to me.). Like while I sneaking into a Nazi base, I overheard a Nazi soldier telling his buddy how much he’s sick of the regime and its shitty lifestyle and his plan about escaping with his family to an another station.

    The whole thing wasn’t even a cutscene forced down your throat, you can totally ignore and not even bother and continue with the game. The game is filled with these interesting, well written conversations that you can easily ignore or net even get if you didn’t pay enough attention. To me, It’s small tid-bits like these that makes me adore video game storytelling.

    Love this game.

    • Raygereio says:

      “The game never really explains that.”
      Well it doesn’t really need to explain it as it’s not important to Metro 2033’s story in the slightest.
      The nazis and communists aren’t the villains of that game. Heck, it doesn’t even have any villain.

      • Zombie says:

        I think he (the player character) explains it in the game as human stupidity and nature, that they would fight themselves over the mutants in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I mean every game, book, movie, ect. like that has Humans fighting Humans instead of trying to rebuild the world.

      • Packie says:

        I agree but it would’ve been nice if they just delved on the political backgrounds of these factions a little instead of the “both sides are pricks and they hate each other” stance the game took. I’m not holding it against the story and I understand why developers didn’t want to waste the player’s time by shoving a bunch of exposition down our throats but it would’ve been much more interesting if they gave us something more tangible.

        • Raygereio says:

          Well, sure it would be interesting. But in Metro 2033 they’re just obstacles to get through with a tiny bit of setting lore attached to give them flavor.
          In game of a linear nature and fast pacing like Metro 2033 throwing large ammounts of exposition about relatively irrelivant things like that towards the player just doesn’t work as the narrative becomes bogged down with it.
          This would be different in a game with of a slower pace and less linearity like for instance the TES or Fallout games where the player can seek background information like that out on his own and take his time with it.

          • Klay F. says:

            I think that if the devs of Metro had used the same methods of exposition in regards to characterizing the Nazis and Reds that they did when delivering exposition during your time with Khan, that would have been awesome.

            Seriously, every moment I spent with Khan was absolutely amazing.

            • Zombie says:

              Is Khan the merchant guy you spend like three levels with, including your first time in the world outside the Metro? Cause I felt really bad when he died in the bandit station. if not, who was that guy?

              • Michael says:

                Bourbon. Khan’s the ranger you meet right after you and Bourbon part ways.

              • Klay F. says:

                For the record, I’m not actually saying that Khan was my favorite part of the game, but that my favorite parts was when Khan was with me. Seeing the silhouettes for the first time, and encountering the anomalies were freaking awesome.

                Also, if you have a system or headphones capable of it, I suggest you jack the bass up all the way when you meet an anomaly. Fun times.

  12. krellen says:

    Maybe the game’s writers were trying to make a game in which you (unwittingly) play the bad guy.

    • John Magnum says:

      Possible, but you’d hope that they would include that revelation in the same game that you play the bad guy in. Waiting and going back in a sequel to go “Ha–you were the bad guy the whole time the past game!” is silly for a bunch of reasons. The big ones are: When it takes years and years for the sequel to get made (if it gets made), which we know is a possibility because id is not super timely about releasing followups to their games; when people play the first game and not the second one, so they just play as the bad guy and never get the twist; when people play the second game and not the first one, so they get the twist that depends on an entire game’s worth of buildup that they missed out.

      The last one is definitely a possibility. I think Rage has that mix of crappiness and awesome-at-its-core, like Assassins Creed, that could lead to a massively-improved sequel that gets people saying “Don’t bother with the first one, but definitely don’t miss Rage 2.” Wildly speculative, but I’m hopeful that id is being ambitious and paying attention.

    • Zombie says:

      But then it would have to be like Bioshock, where they just sorta shouted out “Hey, you thought you were working for a good guy, but hes really a bad guy, and you just killed the semi-good guy, Andrew Ryan, with his own Golf Club and now you should go and kill the real bad guy, and oh, hey, by the way, you just going to the other areas mostly destroyed any normalcy that was present, and you got some good people killed while you were on your way to kill the good guy. Way to go.”

      • John Magnum says:

        Why would it have to be identical to Bioshock? Even if they both use the same “It turns out you weren’t working for the righteous side after all” twist, that doesn’t mean they’d both implement it identically.

        • Zombie says:

          Not Identical, but Bioshock did it well, and if it was like Bioshock’s twist, it would work. Im not saying you have to just copy Bioshock, but if something works, you look at what works, and then say “How can I use what worked, and adapt it to what im doing, but keep it diffrent and fresh, so people don’t think i just took it”. I also should have put “should be” instead of “would have to be” in my post.

        • Michael says:

          At the risk of repeating zombie, no, not exactly. If the Resistance genuinely believes they’re the good guys, and the Authority genuinely believe they’re the good guys, and there’s a compelling case for both sides. IE: The resistance is trying to oppose the Orwellian Authority. The Authority is trying to prevent the hideous mutation of every human on the planet due to the nano-technology going haywire when exposed to the green glowy stuff, who’s name escapes me… and the ones they’ve been using the nanotrites on to “control” them, they’re actually bringing them back towards their humanity…

          There could be some meaty stuff here… not that I’m expecting that.

          Also, what was the weird green rock stuff called? I almost never forget plot coupon names like this.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        So just like in summoner then.Only without the darkness.

    • X2Eliah says:

      Not the bad guy, but the gullible, voiceless, directionless goon with extra-good combat aptitude.

  13. Zombie says:

    So it’s like Fallout 3 where you can’t join the Enclave, even though they have better tech, a better chance of getting rid of the Super Mutants, can actually restore order to the Capital Wasteland, and apperantly can fix the Project Purity machine, where your Dad and the BoS couldn’t. I mean, they were led by a Computer, and wanted to kill most of the wasteland with the FEV virus, but they had some goals, where the BoS was just “Kill Super Mutants, Kill Enclave, Take back Project Purity.”

    • Sydney says:

      This is exactly the comment I was about to post. The only thing I have to add is that the Authority sounds not just like Fallout 3’s version of the Enclave, but like a weird cross between them and Fallout 3’s version of Chaotic-Weird Vault-Tec.

    • Sagretti says:

      At the very, very least, the Enclave had President Eden’s shoehorned in plan to commit genocide upon the Capital Wasteland. It was almost an admission by the game’s writers that they hadn’t come up with enough of a reason that the Enclave were such a horrible threat, so they had to give a reason, no matter how much of a cop out it was.

      On the other hand, the Authority apparently is a little too authoritarian, doesn’t help out enough against bandits, and is lead by a guy who is stopping the other Ark survivors from surfacing. Sure, they’re not great, but I’d still be more worried about the gang of psychos down the road that are trying to mutilate and eat me.

    • SolkaTruesilver says:

      Hell. If anything, I wanted to join the Outcast Brotherhood. I steal the GECK and I go to give it to them. They would have wet their pants.

      The endgame is us trying to retake the Citadel and Liberty Prime.

  14. Klay F. says:

    I get the impression (I haven’t played the game yet, so this is just conjecture) that id would rather that there be no story at all in their games.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Dont know about id,but I do know that I like their storyless games much more.

      • Michael says:

        That might have something to do with their storyless games being exercises in minimalistic gleeful mayhem, and their storied games being annoying, endless slogs.

        I’m sitting there thinking about Doom 3, and really, I can’t tell off hand if the game is just bad, or if the story actually makes it worse…

    • Sagretti says:

      Carmack is quoted as saying, “Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.” Now, I don’t know when that quote was made, so it’s possible that opinion has changed with how the medium has changed over the years. Still, I don’t think Id has ever given much care to their game’s stories, which makes it even more bizarre they put so much of one in RAGE.

      • Klay F. says:

        They put a story in Rage (I suspect) because they didn’t think they could get away with not having a story.

        That quote strikes me as a statement that would be popular 20 years ago, but today, it just comes across as ignorant bullshit.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Not completely.No story is still better than crappy story.

          • Zombie says:

            Agreed. A crappy story makes even a good game just ok, and an ok game just bad. I forgive a game if its story is good, but the game itself is mediocre, because I can tell they wanted it to do good, but they failed at something. Bad stories make me think “Why am I here again? What does this acomplish? How is this really hurting the bad guy(s)?” or in other words MW2 Syndrome. Sadly, no cure has been found but destroying the subject.

            • Klay F. says:

              True but the way I read the quote was, “We know everyone expects games to have story in them now, but we don’t want to waste time with that when I could be making the graphics shinier, so we’ll just put in the absolute minimum effort.”

  15. ps238principal says:

    I’m not sure which I find cheaper, narrative-wise, to make you care about a game’s villain: The bad guy wiping out everything at the end, or Bioware’s current Mass Effect 3 marketing campaign of showing kids getting killed by the Reapers (one in the demo, one in the trailer that just aired last night).

    I’m fully expecting a clip of a Reaper squashing a box of kittens and puppies next.

    • X2Eliah says:

      I’ll side with ME3 on this.. Note, both are ofc stupid for their own reasons, but at least with ME3 (taken just on its own merits) at least TRIES to show that the “Baddies are bad” in the beginning. RAGE only establishes the bad guys as bad, to the player, at the very end, which is self-defeating and daft.

      Now, ofc, you may say that ME3 has a legacy from ME2 and ME1, but even then.. first you see the “unknown” guys doing bad stuff – or learn that they have done bad stuff, and then you fight them. Cause and effect. Rage has effect and cause – you fight the bad guys so that you may in the end learn that they are actually bad.

      • ps238principal says:

        I’m just saying that it seems really cheap and unnecessary for ME3 to do this. We’ve already seen the Reapers kill thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people, and everything ’till now has shown them wiping out the Earth. Reducing it to the “if you want to sell a car, show kids and animals” method of selling the story strikes me as either poor faith in the product or a misguided attempt to “top” the previous installments.

        • Pete says:

          Especially jarring is the bit where they show an entire city being vaporised in an instant, only to cut to a kid with a reaper just… hovering above a sunflower field? Fade to black? What? Im sorry, is that what is supposed to evoke the “you bastards!” feeling – just how many children would there be in one of those cities, anyway?

        • SougoXIII says:

          Worst part is that the whole would have been touching without the kid. Instead feeling the sense of being helpless against the Reapers, all I can think about is that ‘Whoa Bioware, you ARE serious about going after MW3 audience.’

          • Indy says:

            THAT is exactly the vibe I got from it, it’s the kind of ‘shocking’ moment you get from an Infinity Ward game. I get that ‘innocence lost’ is a great shocker for your average human but if they don’t accept it, it goes immediately the other way. And this just went the other way.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its ok to show that your bad guy is bad(its highly recommended even).And there are plenty of ways to do that.But when you show your bad guy do something nasty(like detonate a gas bomb in the middle of a city),and then focus on a child dying like you want to emphasize “This guy is REALLY bad”,thats just cheap.Especially if its done like in the me3 demo,where you offer your help to the kid,but he refuses.

        • Zukhramm says:

          The problem to me is that it says “we’re not confident that we’re able to show that this is bad”.

        • Raygereio says:

          “Especially if its done like in the me3 demo,where you offer your help to the kid,but he refuses.”
          Oh, dear Ao. That dialogue. I still have nightmares about that horrible exchange of sentences.

        • John Magnum says:

          I was thinking about this, and I think that there’s some backlash just from the fact that child actors and CGI representations of children tend to be a bit abhorrent. Like, in Fallout 3, the kids were such miserable s***stains that we WANTED to be able to murder them all. A friend suggested that Bioware would be able to get a lot more pathos out of friendly animals (dogs, cats) being threatened.

          • Indy says:

            That’d be interesting to have a Shepard petting a cat at the start and seeing it get kicked off a shuttle to make way for a person at the end. That would be a way better way of doing it.

  16. Alex the Too Old says:

    The last paragraph of this post, IMO, is a great capsule summary of WHY coherent writing is important in modern games. Lately I’d been playing through Bioshock and New Vegas and thinking to myself, “So what if the reasons why I’m killing these d00ds and taking their stüff are nonsense as was explained in detail on Spoiler Warning, it’s still FUN!” But, if nothing else, millions of dollars and manhours spent making a real-looking world are effectively wasted if the visuals don’t actually signify anything. Nobody expects Bejeweled to make narrative sense, after all, but if that exquisitely-modeled plasma minigun looks like you could reach in and touch it, and if the guys you’re shooting with it run, speak and try to outfight you in a way that looks like real human beings – well, then you expect a bit more in the “making sense” department.

    It’s like putting retreads on a Corvette, or Windows 3.x on an Alienware box. Maybe it still works, but it’s not nearly what it could have been and you’ve wasted a lot of effort that wound up adding nothing to the final product.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Which is why you dont use humans as enemies,but something outlandish.Which borderland sort of tries to do with its mutants.If they had just numerous variations of mutants,and no story,it wouldve been much better.

  17. Adam P says:

    Aside from that one* incident with the mayor

    Would you prefer typos to be pointed out or not? I know when I write anything I hate to have stuff like this present. But, when I read it doesn’t really bother me, but I notice them. Some people take offense and some people (me) like errors to be pointed out.

  18. Tizzy says:

    Compare and contrast with Skyrim, where, as far as I can tell, the writers went out of their way to allow no-one to have a leg to stand on… Empire, Stormcloacks, Nords, Forsworn, Thalmor,…

    I mean, I get that they’re all flawed and that’s supposed to add a dose of realism, but aren’t they all a little bit more flawed than they really need to be? Or is it just me?

    • KremlinLaptop says:

      Yeah, at some point it does feel like all the factions share a common trait of being bastards in one way or another.

    • Raygereio says:

      What’s bad about the Empire in Skyrim?
      There’s some good old-fashioned cultural posturing, but that’s it really. I’ve haven’t seen anything like the “Skyrim is for the Nords”-attitude the Stormcloaks have.

      • Destrustor says:

        For me it was mostly the “we don’t know who you are or what you’ve done, but we just can’t be bothered to try to find out before chopping your head off, dude.” attitude.

        • Raygereio says:

          Okay sure there’s that one woman who didn’t give a crap and felt like being lazy. I’ll admit that I went with Ralof, not Hadvar.
          Bug take away the first scene of the game, what compelling reason is there then to have a dislike of the empire?

          • Destrustor says:

            The fact that they’re bowing down and obeying the snootiest, most unbearable assholes that are the thalmoor. Even though I understand that fighting back and getting wiped out is a poor alternative, most imperials don’t even seem to follow them against their will.
            This makes them look weak and cowardly, and somewhat spineless, and that’s not what I would want in a continent-wide empire.
            Oh how the glorious have fallen.

            • Stranger says:

              This makes me almost glad I didn’t play other games except for Morrowind now. At least there the Empire only technically existed . . . it was more important who the local great House was.

              I dunno though, about going out to be the High King. I kind of always wound up with my game protagonist in Morrowind, Neverwinter, et cetera tending more towards Adol Christin’s method than anything else:

              “Stuff’s messed up, and I have the power to fix it. I’ll take the fight who whomever or whatever I need to in order to make the local’s lives better. Then I’m moving on.”

            • guy says:

              I personally got the sense that the Imperials were doing the absolute bare minimum to technically fulfill the obligations imposed on them by a treaty they accepted after the obliteration of multiple legions and the rest being reduced to half strength or below.

              I mean, on the imperial path, when you secure Whiterun the guy keeps openly preaching the glories of Talos all day long in the main square. When Ulfric dies, the Imperial second-in-command prays to Talos. I do not recall a single instance of a joint Imperial-Thalmor operation. It is clear the Empire was fulfilling the letter of the treaty and nothing more. Now, they did apparently underestimate the damage they inflicted when they surrounded and obliterated the Thalmor army, but it was reasonable to suspect they could field another.

              • Robert Maguire says:

                This is heavily implied in-game. Several people state that the Empire was perfectly willing to ignore Talos worship in Skyrim until Ulfric started a rebellion over it, forcing them to intervene. And according to documents found in the Thalmor Embassy Ulfric was an unwilling Thalmor agent, forced to continue the civil war as part of a Thalmor plot to weaken the Empire before the next big invasion, but he cut ties with them after they apparently forced him to invade Markarth. The Thalmor want neither side to win.

              • Tizzy says:

                It wouldn’t make sense for the Empire to be overly zealous in their suppression of Talos worship, to be sure. It wasn’t their idea to begin with.

                So yes, that bit makes them sound reasonable and realistic. It’s the other stuff that I objected to: the way they treat Skyrim as a backwater colony rather than yet another province in the Empire. Especially weird when the game made a point that Nords form a large part of the Imperial army.

                • Destrustor says:

                  Even more jarring is the fact that, historically, Skyrim was the first place in all of Tamriel where humans settled after coming north from Atmora. So in a way, Cyrodiil is the one who’s a “colony” of Skyrim, not the other way around.

          • Chris says:

            For one: Isn’t it the Empire’s treaty with the Alderi Dominion that forbids the worship of Talos? The Dominion are based out of Somerset Isle – a far cry from the wintery mountains of Skyrim. While the war with the Dominion no doubt was felt in Skyrim, it’s Cyrodiil, Valenwood, and Hammerfall that stand to truly be impacted by a war with the Dominion. Hence worshippers of Talos feel put upon by the needs of the southern Empire to censor their religion needlessly.

            Plus there’s the whole Markarth series of quests that posit that the original inhabitants of The Reach were forced from their homes and livelihoods when the Empire claimed the territory as its own.

            I agree with Tizzy, there really isn’t a faction that isn’t presented as awful in some way. Instead of creating a series of sides in a complex political contest that each have their ideals (and examples where they’re willing to compromise them) we just have different flavors of jerk we’re forced to choose between (if you choose to make a choice, anyways).

      • Tizzy says:

        My beef: most Imperials have an insufferable superiority complex and act as patronizing colonials forces.

    • Sumanai says:

      I believe that is a result of both Beth writers not being that good, and that some designers seem to think that offering only bad decisions (all options are bad) make the game more dramatic or something. Never mind that a “everyone is a dick”-world creates a situation where some players would prefer to just burn down everything and salt the ground, but are never offered that possibility without the game getting preachy.

      Although, I think I could live with the game getting a bit preachy if I could genuinely wipe out groups of people from a world in a way that the game would recognize it and stop spawning them.

    • JPH says:

      Incidentally, I think this was my biggest problem with the story of New Vegas. I found it impossible to like or sympathize with any of the factions. They were pretty much all jerks.

  19. Darkness says:

    I actually disagree with the lot of you on most points.

    The PC is an elite solder that is supposed to bring back civilization and/or support those that can do that. Cool. You wake up and everything is foobarred. Crap. Get out of the Ark, get jumped, get saved and learn what the current situation is. Back to Cool.

    Chugging along taking out the bad guys, supporting the people that help you and getting your proverbial feet back under you. Looting, killing bandits, mutees and playing with the guns are fine.

    I saw the Authority a little different as well. The PC knew what was supposed to happen and The Early Bird Colonel is not playing by the game plan. Why? Don’t really care but I can solve this problem by bringing the rest of the Arks back on line. If most of them are dead, like in my Ark, then not much may change. If there are enough then Early Bird Colonel gets the smack down I suspect he deserves.

    Was the Authority making Mutees? Who cares, that is just lazy game making. The number of times that comes up is just beyond stupid. Super Mutants in Fallout 3 for an example. Ooh! The Gummamint what was making them thare Super Mutants. Bull-Fraking-Shit.

    Did I have a problem with the game Rage, why thanks for asking, yes I did. The game wasn’t cohesive. It was very linear and the idTech5 is very Unreal Engine like in that the graphics are very pretty but you cannot see much out of what they predetermine you are allowed to see. The previews, the iOS Mutant TV bit and the press made it seem a little more open then it was. I was expecting more of a Very Pretty Fallout then what we got.

    So what was the big deal about the Authority? For me, when I went into WellSprings the stupid gun toting cops wouldn’t let me walk down hallways I have already been down. I couldn’t go in the Mayor’s office. And the worst was I couldn’t shoot them. If the Authority moved into WellSprings and I was equipped like the PC was, they would need a body-bag for each and every Authority that went in. ‘Cause they would all go out feet first.

    If I could have cleared WellSprings and optionally recovered the nut job Mayor then the game would have been a lot better. But just to have them show up and make me powerless, back to Crap.

    A little clarification: I don’t like mini-games. Unless I HAVE to do them, I don’t. They are stupid, time-wasting filler and are usually totally contrary to the purpose of the game. Rage (shooter) needs to play with knives (not), holo-chess (not) and cards (not). Hunting down bandit cars and blowing them up was okay, but not really important. Forcing me to upgrade the cars via racing, back to not. Cash doesn’t transfer between race winnings and the rest of the world? Seriously, do you think there is a racer in the world that would put up with that crap? Didn’t play Fraking Caravan either, which sucked more then all of the mini-games in Rage put together.

    The game is worth playing. I just started playing for the second time. Was it worth $60? Well, that is a totally different discussion.

    • guy says:

      FEV was a side-effect of a US project to render their soldiers immune to biological warfare that was conducted in the military base later known as The Glow before being transferred to Mariposa Military Base once the other effects became known. This was established in the original.

      • Darkness says:

        Thanks, I only started at Fallout 3. OS X doesn’t do the first ones all that well.

        • Eric says:

          It’s worth clarifying that the Super Mutants in Fallout 3 are never actually explained or given any reasonable setup or payoff. They’re in there “because it’s Fallout” and because Bethesda wanted to make a big dumb enemy without any AI. In fact the complete and utter lack of resolution to the Super Mutant presence in Fallout 3 is one of the most obvious dropped plot threads and one of the most disappointing things in what is already a colossally dissapointing game (yes, I know I’m late).

  20. “I know it seems silly to beat up on an id Software game for the story, but that’s only because we’ve never played an id game with great writing and it’s not always obvious just how much we’re missing. I think if we ever played one where the storytelling was on par with the visuals, we’d never want to go back.”

    This kinda speaks to narrative and it’s over-importance given to games nowadays considering the importance this single company’s catalog has in the industry’s history while all being completely devoid of anything approaching good writing.

    • Michael says:

      Probably, honestly, says more about how the industry has evolved, specifically in the last 10-15 years. Used to be games without stories, or with their stories stuck in the manual were all there was. I even kinda remember a game from when I was a kid, where the manual was a freakin’ novel, and the game would have you read from certain pages when certain events occurred.

      The last 10 years, we’ve seen an absolute shift. Once games like FarCry were expected to have a self contained narrative, all bets were off for the old school no story model. Hell even Hard Reset, with it’s allusions towards being a classic 90s style shooter has a story now.

      That ID’s only developed two games since 2001 sorta says more about how slowly they turn games loose rather than how unimportant story is for them.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its also very irritating.Yes a game with a good story can be a wonderful thing,yes its nice to have good story and background next to solid gameplay,but its not necessary.Did the story improve anything in doom 3?Nope.When the story wont improve your game in any way,then dont write it.Video games are composite things,and you can neglect certain parts if other parts are strong enough on their own.I hate this need the developers have of adding bunch of stuff just because other games have it as well.

        • Shamus says:

          “When the story wont improve your game in any way,then dont write it.”

          While no story is indeed better than a horrible one, I’m really having a hard time picturing a modern shooter like Doom 3 with no attempt at story. Would the game just plonk you at the end of a linear corridor and let you murder your way to the other side of the complex with no other explanation? I really do think that it’s a sort of uncanny valley effect: The better the graphics, the more narrative context the player will expect.

          I’m not saying a story-free game CAN’T work. But I can’t picture it. I mean, even Serious Sam as a LITTLE story.

          That’s not to say that all games need to be Planescape: Torment or anything. But some reasonable context and motivation can go a long way to propelling the player forward and giving the experience an emotional angle.

          • swimon1 says:

            I both agree and disagree in a way. Games have always needed narratives and they have always had them. Ok there are purely abstract things like tetris that I won’t include here because it gets messy but all other games have narratives (I’d argue that tetris has a narrative in a way but it gets too complicated to take up here). Take asteroids for example there is no stated story but a narrative is obvious: you’re stuck in an asteroid belt and need to survive, also there are aliens. Not a super complicated narrative but it is a narrative. Missile defense is even more overt managing an anti-war message despite it’s simple design and graphics.

            The change in games since is not really that modern games need a narrative more or less than before it’s that the narrative is told in a different way. The art style of games have skewed ever more towards a realistic depiction and away from abstraction. There is definitely merit to a less abstract visual style but as you move towards realism you also lose ways of expressing the narrative.

            Take psychonats and mass effect for example (both games that I love) when you see Ford Cruller in psychonauts you directly get what he’s about and what the tone of the game is in a way that you don’t get from seeing captain Anderson in mass effect. I would argue that both are really well designed characters but Cruller is more expressive because he doesn’t have to conform to the way a real human looks like. Every aspect of his character is designed to tell us who he is.

            Because of this change in visual style from the expressively abstract to a more realistic look newer games need to tell us more through the writing. Because we need context and we need a narrative. Text and dialogue has had to pick up the slack left by visual design (this is not a criticism of modern games BTW realism is a totally valid way to make your game if it fits the narrative you want but there are trade-offs is what I’m arguing).

            I guess what I disagree with is the sentiment that games with “better” graphics need more writing whereas I think it’s games with a more realistic art design. I’m sure you could use all that fancy waffle texturing and pancake mapping and make a game that looks super abstract that could work without any writing or dialogue it’s just not really where most games that have technically advanced graphics wants to take it. Compare Rez and fallout for example, Rez clearly has the more technically advanced graphics of the two yet has no written story (as far as I’m aware) nor does it need one whereas I very much doubt fallout could work without writing.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            You can easily play serious sam without ever hearing a single thing of the story.Skip all the cutscenes,dont read the flavour texts,etc.Would anything change?Same with painkiller.Heck,one can argue that original doom had a little story(gates of hell,yadda yadda).Though Im not sure if these bare bones can be called stories.They are more like setups(all hell brakes loose,you die,you travel back in time),and where you go from there is just mindless mayhem.

          • Michael says:

            The one thing I can think of that would be a modern FPS without a story would be either a truly non-linear sandbox (no quests, no missions, just enemies, maybe a destructible environment, and a building mechanic, but no story per say), or a kind of FPS style rogue clone, where the only point is to progress through a randomly generated map killing random enemies.

            I really suspect both of those examples would result in the player creating narratives on their own, though, so that wouldn’t really do it either.

        • Tizzy says:

          Your mileage may vary: it’s the story that kept me playing Doom 3. The overly repetitive running and gunning and keycard (sorry, PDA’s) could have only kept my attention for so long. I mean, once you got the BFG for the first time, what is there left to do?

          And I know it’s customary to complain about the length of games these days, but Doom 3 felt padded: lots of game, not a whole lot of content.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Thats not the problem with the length of a game though.When people say they want a long game,they dont mean just numerically long(desert bus is a long game,but not that fun to play),they mean rich with content.Giving you one enemy,and then having you slog for 20 hours fighting that same enemy is bad.But giving you one new enemy every 30 minutes,and having you fight them for 10 hours is good.

            • Michael says:

              As I recall, Doom 3 is actually pretty good about continuing to introduce new enemies every hour or so, and the enemy variety gets pretty good later on in the game.

              Again, with it being years since I played through it, but my recollection is that the only real problems for Doom 3 are: the lighting (or lack thereof), the spongy combat (which gets to be a bit monotonous), and the monster closets.

    • Klay F. says:

      While I agree with you technically that story has an over-importance in games, however its only bad stories the public are getting the vast majority of the time. A good story can improve upon solid gameplay a hundred fold, while a crappy story makes me feel like I just wasted my money. Like it or not though, we won’t ever be going back to the days of Doom when story didn’t matter in the slightest.

      • “A good story can improve upon solid gameplay a hundred fold, while a crappy story makes me feel like I just wasted my money.”

        Then I would say you’re playing videogames for the wrong reason.

        • Shamus says:

          Except, you don’t get to tell other people how to enjoy videogames.

          And really, saying the story doesn’t matter is like saying the voice acting or the art direction doesn’t matter. Sure it’s mechanically the same game, but better craftsmanship = better end product.

          A good story can enhance an already good game by giving an emotional impact to go with the visceral (or cerebral) impact of the game. A game with no story is like a fight scene with no context. It’s great to watch Jackie Chan or Bruce Willis kick ass, but it’s even better if we’re invested in their journey and perceive some goal beyond “win this fight”.

          • Tizzy says:

            And the most frustrating thing: good writing must be a lot easier to come by and cheaper than good art direction or good voice acting. So why the cheap writing?

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              I wouldnt say that.Coming up with a decent story,and writing it in the form of dialogues are two completely different things.

              • Tizzy says:

                I’m strictly talking about how much you have to pay somebody to do it; not how easy it would be for me or you to come up with the stuff.

                If good writers are more expensive than I thought, it would be good news to me. Anyway, if anyone has any first-hand knowledge of this, I’d be interested to hear about it.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  I dont know if good writers are expensive,but known ones are.And when you work on a big project,you rarely use people picked up from the street.Otherwise,youd be able to find quite cheap,yet excellent undiscovered talents in all fields.

          • “Except, you don’t get to tell other people how to enjoy videogames.”

            Yes I do, I just don’t have the power to enforce what I say. ;P

            Besides I wasn’t demanding him to play correctly, just pointing out he’s playing incorrectly. Presumptive sure, but I’m right in doing so.

            In simple terms, I can prove that story is completely unnecessary simply by the fact that games can and have existed without them. One of your favorite games and Mine (Get it? It’s a PUN!) doesn’t even have a tutorial, let alone a narrative. This is something that can’t be said of graphics, which I associate it the closest to. They’re both aesthetic, and they’re both are given a disproportionate amount of importance that I think has caused a significant halt in progress within the industry.

            Just as there are ‘graphics whores’, there are ‘story whores’ who over emphasize the importance writing has on a game, such as yourself…kinda. While you don’t come of as believing that it’s necessary for every game to HAVE a narrative, you do demand that it be cohesive and exceptional when present. I’d argue otherwise for points I’ll get into later but regardless, the point is that this demand for better narratives has had an adverse effect* on the industry, and we’re still not very good at it.**

            In essence, what I think is happening is we are trying to shove the square peg of videogames into the round hole of non-interactive media instead of using the videogame’s strengths of emergent gameplay, non-linear design and interactive nature to allow for a similarly styled story. Story I say, but not narrative (which I’m defining here as plot/dialog…anything ‘written’ really).

            *I don’t fully agree with his assessment of the franchise’s quality, but he does have a point in how narrative has affected it…and not for the better.

            **The priorities listed in the video are presented as a detriment, but I’d argue they’re actually in the correct order.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              No,youre not right.If you enjoy playing a game,whether because you like the graphics,the story,the gameplay,the sound,the synergy of its parts,or anything else,you are doing it correctly.As long as you are having fun with a game,no matter what that fun comes from(even if its from pointless grinding,or because you enjoy the “its so bad that its good” aspect),you are doing it correctly.Saying anything else is not just presumptuous,but wrong as well.

            • Naota says:

              Absolutely, games without a story have been made.

              Games have also existed without the ability to save your progress, or even without a save function at all. There have been games controlled with a single button and games without any graphics whatsoever. The only constant is the minimum amount of interactivity which defines a piece of media as a game.

              This fact does not make controls, visuals, writing, or the save function “completely unnecessary” or in any way diminish their importance – it only proves that a game can be made which does not have them, and does so without saying anything about the quality or appeal of said game.

              I have enjoyed games with lackluster gameplay (the original McGee’s Alice, the shooting in Mirror’s Edge) for their raw sense of style; I have enjoyed games with poor writing and gameplay for their graphic design (FF XIII’s environments); I have enjoyed games that are ugly as sin for their writing or their gameplay (Thief, System Shock, X-Com); games with lamentably poor writing for their gameplay and graphics (Devil May Cry, Skyrim, Arkham Asylum’s main plot).

              There are no hard rules. Any feature of a game can become the central pillar of enjoyment to any person. You can’t be wrong or right about what makes a game worth playing.

            • Klay F. says:

              Wow, just… okay let me get past the pretentiousness so I can think clearly.

              Okay, all better. It isn’t actually good story that I want from games. I want good context. If a game does not provide a context resilient enough to withstand even the basics of logical thought, then it is fundamentally a waste of my time and money. But that is just the start, because context is just one part of a trinity game design aspects, the other two being challenge, and gratification. Stop me if this sounds familiar. Most professional developers have long since (debatably) mastered challenge and gratification, but the vast majority have demonstrated how they have no clue about context. If a game fails in any one of the three aspects, it fails as a whole.

              I know this has mostly been said by others more famous than me, but it bears repeating.

              • Well I didn’t say context, I said narrative. I even specified what I viewed narrative to mean as anything ‘written’. That is not the same as context. Context, as your “famous person” uses it, refers to any form of communication the game provides to you, such as graphic fidelity, the concepts of ‘guiding’ players via level design, the UI interface. In terms of what makes a videogame good by his standards, narrative would still be shown as entirely superficial (and for the record most videogames provide far superior context than their modern media contemporaries).

                Or put in simpler terms:

                “A game with no story is like a fight scene with no context.”

                Those exist…they’re called fighting games. They’re actually very popular.

                And that really hits to the core point of my argument, that the games of old (the designs of which games today are built upon) did not necessitate narratives, good or bad. They were not considered important to what made a videogame a videogame and it is only through the advances in graphical fidelity (such as the ‘real humans’ noted earlier) that this superficial aspect has gained undue importance. Let me provide an alternate context:

                Good writing does not mean a good videogame and bad writing does not mean a bad videogame.

                • Klay F. says:

                  Games didn’t necessitate narratives back in the day, because the vast majority of gamers were children who didn’t care. Children are not hard to please when it comes to entertainment. Now, that vast majority are adults. As such, their interests evolved and changed, and the industry evolved and changed to suit the demands of their audience.

                  Its what the industry has always done, it evolves to suit the wants of the majority audience. Saying the narrative is superficial in this day and age is like saying gameplay is superficial. Eventually the industry will evolve again and story won’t be important anymore. Thats the way it is.

                  Also I disagree with your last statement as a matter of course. I will suffer through horrendous gameplay if a really good story is attached. Thats how I made it through Silent Hill 2 and ended up enjoying it despite the gameplay. If a game has a terrible story but good gameplay, I will never be able to force myself through it. Because whats the point? You might as well be mashing random keys into a word processor for all the good it does.

                  Also, also, I must disagree that the recent importance of story has had adverse effects on the industry. The emergence of story as one of the leading reasons people play videogames in the first place is a very major reason why the industry is as profitable as it is. The race to the bleeding edge of graphics is what has the adverse effects.

                  EDIT: I occurs to me that you’ll just disagree with me no matter what I say, and this argument is already getting abstract enough. To simplify, I’m just going to state why I, and others like me, want narrative context in our games:

                  Narrative context answers the question of why. Why I am spending my time at my computer instead of going outside or doing something useful. Its as simple as that. If a game can’t help me answer that question, then it is a waste of my time and money. Gameplay alone will NEVER answer the question of why.

        • Pete says:

          And I would say there IS no wrong reason to play videogames as long as you enjoy it.

          EDIT: Friggin ninjas-

        • Destrustor says:

          ““Mayonnaise can improve a tomato sandwich a hundred fold, while mustard makes me feel like I just wasted my money.”

          Then I would say you’re eating sandwiches for the wrong reason.”

          That’s how sound your argument sounds to me.

  21. Vect says:

    Is it wrong that I almost misread Lucien Fairfax into Lucien Lachance? I mean, both are crazy evil assholes in their own way, with the latter just not making any other attempts at justifying his crazy evil assholishness.

    Not sure what you have to say about the Dark Brotherhood questlines on each games. Admittedly I’m not nearly as good a nitpicker as you and I simply tend to just go with things. I will say that mixing a Doom Cult with an Assassin’s Guild seems like a rather stupid mix.

  22. Kresh says:

    The blandness of the RAGE story reminded me of the blandness of Fallout:NV. It sounds cool on the surface, but once you peel back the bread to see what kind of ingredients you have in your sandwich, you discover that the meat is only meat on the thinnest external layer. Inside it’s poop.

    In RAGE it’s; A is Bad. B is good. Don’t be A… not like you have a choice. So, we’re not going to really tell you much… but look at those megatextures! Whooo-eeeh! Purty!
    Fallout:NV is; A is bad. B is just as bad. C is terrible, and thus different. D is bugnuts crazy and kind of fun. Oh, and C will be bad in the future, so LOLZ. Have fun trying to find a faction that’s not a bunch of dicks made up of dicks with a plan of being the biggest dicks on the block. Oh! And you can modify your weapons now! Totally not half assed and nonsensical implementation either!

    Which is why I ignored any reference of the story after my second play through of Fallout:NV. The story could have been good, but Obsidian was so determined that you were going to hear the story they wanted to tell that they didn’t think to remember that they weren’t ones supposed to be playing the game.

    In RAGE, I don’t think they cared. Thus the lack of a story kept me from wanting to play the endless-horde shooter with the awesome architecture. Especially when the architecture let me know what kind of fights were coming up. RAGE telegraphed it’s punches and came off worse for it.

    • krellen says:

      You know, the NCR is never depicted as bad. Incompetent, perhaps. Overextended, definitely. But not “bad”.

      • Kresh says:

        Yes, because referring to an expanding group as “Imperialistic” is an ok thing. There are many references to the NCR being corrupt, lazy, stupid, imperialistic, greedy, and their own special version of evil. Heck, they attacked the BoS over a power station. And the BoS are supposed to be allies! Stupid, stupid writing.

        Seriously, Obsidian cocked up the story because they wanted a nihilistic view of the wasteland with no hope allowed. I hope they never get their hands on the franchise again. Van Buren died for a reason. It should have stayed dead.

        • Klay F. says:

          So a few of the people in charge are corrupt or ruthless or incompetent, so the entire nation is corrupt, ruthless, and incompetent? Nice generalizing there.

          Since when are the Brotherhood of Steel SUPPOSED to be your allies? Suddenly the BoS aren’t allowed to change with regard to how they interact with the outside world, or rather to stay the exact same while the outside world changes? How very presumptuous of you.

          • Kresh says:

            “So a few of the people in charge are corrupt or ruthless or incompetent, so the entire nation is corrupt, ruthless, and incompetent? Nice generalizing there.”

            So, didn’t you listen to the people in New Vegas? It’s not my opinion. It’s the opinion of the non-NCR characters in the game. I’m not generalizing, the writers of the game are and that’s the impression they want you to have. How do I know this? Because of the story, dialogue, and actions of the characters in the game. In other words, I paid attention.

            “Since when are the Brotherhood of Steel SUPPOSED to be your allies? Suddenly the BoS aren’t allowed to change with regard to how they interact with the outside world, or rather to stay the exact same while the outside world changes?”

            In the Fallout 2 Bible, which is compilation of email question/answer session between the fans of Fallout 1 and 2, and the producers/designers of the games, details how the area of territory that the BoS “controls” becomes a State in the NCR. It’s called Maxson, for very obvious reasons. What can one take from this? One can’t assume that the NCR controls the BoS as that would require a HUGE leap of faith and a huge application of firepower that the NCR probably doesn’t have. We’ve heard nothing, there’s been nothing mentioned, and there is no evidence that the NCR has defeated and conquered the BoS. From this we have to believe that they have come to some sort of co-habitations agreement (after all, a State in the NCR is under the protection AND jurisdiction of the NCR, and taxed by said faction), if not a nominal alliance.

            This is why I don’t think the NCR and the BoS should have been fighting over a frikkin’ solar plant that NCR didn’t know what to do with anyways, unless the NCR was being portrayed (on purpose) as a “…corrupt, lazy, stupid, imperialistic, greedy, and their own special version of evil” type of faction. In other words, if the NCR is supposedly the “good faction,” there is no reason for them to attack the BoS at all. Thus, they aren’t the good faction, just a more different evil faction, like all the other factions.

            “How very presumptuous of you.”

            How very condescending of you. Do try to keep the conversation civil. You may not like my conclusions, but that’s no reason to be an ass about it.

    • Alan says:

      “Inside it’s poop.” “my second play through”

      That’s a pretty compelling argument for the “story doesn’t matter” side. :-)

      • Kresh says:

        Actually it’s not. It means that the second play through allowed me to focus on the story more (seeing as how the “OMG! A NEW FALLOUT! Must. Explore. Everything!” had worn off) and truly see all the rough edges. Of course, by “rough edges” I mean “gaping chasms of nonsensical derp.”

        The gameplay didn’t matter (being a generic shooter), and the story didn’t matter, so subsequent play-throughs were an attempt to see if I could make the game interesting via mods, self-imposed rules, and attempts to go places I shouldn’t due to the many arbitrary invisible walls and level restrictions. Basically, I tried to see if they had accidentally hidden a decent game in there somewhere.

        Let’s put it this way; the mods I used were more enjoyable than the storyline itself, but only because they made the gameplay better AND improved the “story” through added content. To put it another way, the AWOP mod (found under the name “A World Of Pain” at the New Vegas Nexus) was more interesting than the original game.

        I also consider the DLC stories better than the main storyline in the game itself, at least until the last DLC. That DLC (Lonesome Road) was just a giant fail. It was beautiful, but nonsensical, with both the in-game explanation and metagame explanation not giving any sort of solid story (or logic for that matter) hook for the player to hang his interest on.

  23. Joush says:

    Oddly, the only id game I can think of where I cared about anyone was the protagonist in, of all things, Quake 4.

    Yeah, he’s a generic marine. But the reactions of people to him create a place in the world for him. You know what he is, more or less. And when he gets mutilated in the second act, the reactions of people around him makes it easy to sympathize and a sense he’s fighting on past a serious hardship.

    None of this outstays it’s welcome. You never get pulled into a locked camera, RPG-wanna-be cut scene to hear them expound on how Kane got cut apart by the strogg and was seconds from being implanted with a control chip, or how everyone should feel sorry for him. Instead you just hear them react to his new status while our heroic mime stoically continues to fight.

    Not to mention that you are given an actual reason to dislike the bad guys. Rage’s problem with The Athorthy being totally out shined in personality and menace by every band of wasteland bandits is a pretty big one that Shamus hit on the head.

    The British holugan bandits showed up in one dungeon that you visit at most twice. Yet they are more compelling then the big bad overlords of the new world.

  24. Darkness says:

    I put in about 4 hours of play in the last couple of nights to Rage.

    The one thing I forgot was how good the music/sound is. Once the bad guys show up the damn music is unrelenting. Definitely sets the mood. A couple of times it bumps me out of immersion because it is still playing and I thought I was done. Nope, there must be one sucker left.

    Still quite the mood enhancer.

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