Wednesday 26 June 2019

Rage 2 review: Shooting into a void

Rage 2

(XO/PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 18+

Rage 2
Rage 2
Rage 2
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Wonder Woman wangles a cameo appearance in Rage 2, which is the most surprising thing about this sequel to the overlooked Mad Max-esque shooter of 2011. Rage 2 bolts on the open-world expertise of Avalanche (as seen in the Just Cause series) to the gun-happy history of original Rage developer id (Doom, etc).

The resulting hybrid is a definite win for id's punchy combat over Avalanche's flavourless world-building. Story comes a distant second in most shooters but resembles even more of an afterthought here. Instead, Rage 2 offers a largely unconnected series of vignettes seemingly cut from the same template.

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The locations may shift slightly from winding sewers to the tight corridors of ruined buildings to small bandit dens. But the scenario remains the same: terminate the thugs with extreme prejudice. That id-powered gunplay in itself is enough to entertain mightily for several hours, with its Doom-like mix of aggression, speed and ability-juggling.

However, there's no escaping the deadening sense of repetition that comes from encountering overfamiliar challenges after travelling long distances on the largely barren roads of a post-nuke wasteland. Those lonely trips are enlivened only by the honeyed tones of Lynda Carter - star of the 1970s TV version of Wonder Woman - as the voice of your tank-like vehicle. Frankly, though, she's wasted on these wastelands.

 

Mechstermination Force.jpg
Mechstermination Force

Mechstermination Force

(Switch) ★★★★ Age: 12+

You may recall Cuphead, 2017's brilliantly stylish boss rush battler dressed in 1930s duds. It's less likely you revere the late 1980s run-and-gun 2D classic Probotector. Mechstermination Force pays homage to both with this colourful series of boss fights.

Pitting you against giant robots, enormous centipedes and colossal snakes, MF offers you nothing more than a weedy gun. The key is to learn the enemies' elaborate attack patterns, shoot glowing weak spots and clamber around their metal frames to hit their ultimate vulnerabilities.

Man, though, it's tough. Prepare for gnashing of teeth and endless restarts as MF demands perfect sync of memory and hand-eye coordination. Two-player co-op makes the missions far easier but at the expense of satisfaction in overcoming insurmountable odds while solo.

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