Combining the open world majesty of Avalanche’s Mad Max with the frenetic action of DOOM and a Mohawk wearing in-yo’-face attitude shouldn’t work at all. But then there’s Rage 2.
The humble Mars bar. A mass of nougat and caramel covered in chocolate that’s a real treat for the sweet toothed among us. Sure, it’s not the most adventurous of confectionery and is normally one of the stragglers left till last in a box of Celebrations but it’s a reliable favourite that hits the spot. Now, please allow me to direct your attention towards batter. A mixture of flour with water, milk and/or eggs that’s most associated in the UK as a coating of fried food. Perfectly lovely on a fish from the chippy, transforms a sausage into a crispy delight and is the integral ingredient in delicious Tempura and Pakura. It’s a savoury, crunchy jacket that’s easy on the taste buds and hard on your pulmonary arteries.
In 1995, a Scottish genius/mad chip shop owner decided to combine the sweet, squidgy Mars bar and the crispy coating of batter and what resulted was the majestic, deeply unhealthy but equally tasty deep-friend Mars bar that shouldn’t work but really, really does.
This, in my eyes, is what Rage 2 represents within the video game space. A combination of things that shouldn’t work, but absolutely do. The deceptively linear but bonkers action of the original Rage combined with the sullen, dark, open world of Avalanche Studio’s Mad Max with hints of DOOM, Bulletstorm and the attitude of my 8 year old throwing a tantrum because I told him he’s too young to play Fortnite, sprinkled with the punk stylings of Andrew W.K. This melting pot of ideas and influences simply should not be as appealing as this game play trailer is. But here we are, salivating at the thought of tucking into the batter covered, sweet centre of Rage 2.
Let’s take a look at some of those ideas in isolation. Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max is an underappreciated gem. The vehicular combat in the game is the best the world of video games has seen since Twisted Metal 2 and Vigilante 8. The world is vast, dark, almost entirely devoid of humour but the system driven design is sublime. This is, then, the polar opposite to the original Rage game that put a charismatic, bizarre, often hilarious world of bonkers action in a deceptively linear kill box and asked you to revel in the anarchy of shooting things in the face. Both of these games shine though in the first snippet of Rage 2 game play – the car combat from Mad Max, the explosive gib kills of Rage, the sullen start to the trailer and the explosive end to it – and somehow, it works.
Of course, this being the internet, Rage 2 has been accused of trying to have its cake and eat it too by trying to appeal to all bases. There’s been comparisons made to Far Cry 5 which was accused of being tonally jarring at times, making itself out to be a deep and meaningful game full of social commentary about broken America only to sandwich the serious cult content between a hunt for aliens and harvesting bull testicles. Rage 2, on the other hand, has been pretty forthright in the fact that the tone can change at breakneck speeds. That trailer attests to that. If anything, Rage 2 is openly advertising the fact that it’s a “Jeff Goldblum after stepping through a telepod with a fly” creation.
Only time will tell if Rage 2 can fulfil the possibility of the the hybrid of games demonstrated in that frankly excellent first gameplay trailer. We won’t have to wait long to find out as Bethesda have confirmed we’ll see more of it at E3 2018. If anyone can do it, it’s Avalanche and iD, two studios that have come a long way since 2007 and the release of the original Rage and personally, I can’t wait to see more of what they can do together.
Now, to watch that trailer a few more times and find a chippy that’ll do me a battered Mars bar…