Rage: The Scorchers DLC for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I really wasn’t that enamoured with 2011’s Rage, an FPS from id Software, the supposed masters of the genre. The game promised a lot that wasn’t delivered; I felt that it was marketed as an open world FPS with a strong vehicular emphasis, but in reality what we got was a series of linear shooting galleries linked by an open world. It may sound like an arbitrary distinction, but I think that it’s a significant one. I was therefore planning on skipping The Scorcher’s DLC, but a couple of factors influenced me in giving it a go. Firstly, it’s quite cheap, and has a tantalisingly huge file size for something of its price. Secondly, this DLC was released well over a year after the main game first came out, so it’s clear that id had been working hard on it and that it wasn’t rushed. To bother releasing this at all, since it’s widely known that DLC sells best relatively closely to release, implied that id felt that they really had something worth doing here, and by and large I think that they were right.
The Scorchers takes us on a mini tour of the first half of the Wasteland from the main game, which is fine as the first half was much better than the second half. Within these areas new levels have appeared. Some of these environments feel indistinct and boring, insufficiently distinguished from the main game, but there are some areas which impress, particularly the level of the final shoot out with the Scorcher gang in a derelict temple overlooking a vast canyon. I’d forgotten just how beautiful Rage could be, and by and large The Scorcher does a good job of showcasing this.
The Scorchers are one of the bandit clans, cut from the main game, and they seek to burn all life from the Wasteland. The Ark Survivor joins with Sarah, a young warrior wearing impractically sexy clothing, to bring down the Scorchers and save the Wasteland again.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. There are a couple of bends in the road but that’s really all there is to it. Then again, the storyline of Rage itself was entirely forgettable, so I wasn’t exactly expecting much in the plot department, and id certainly delivered on that nothing. Still, this DLC was never presented as anything but an excuse to shoot a lot of people in the face, so I don’t feel particularly annoyed by this; it is what it is.
The shooting mechanics are really solid in Rage, and very satisfying in a mindless ‘run and gun’ sort of way. You really don’t have to engage your mind even a tiny little bit during the shootouts in The Scorchers, but it’s undoubtedly fun. There are a fair few new levels; not that many but certainly worth it for the price. In a way, this DLC works better than the main game with the pretence of exploration stripped away, and accepts Rage for what it is. There’s a fun little nail gun with a few different ammo types added to the armoury, but I quickly found myself switching back to my trusty shotgun/wingstick combo which got me through the main game. The final boss fight of The Scorchers is a lot of fun, and is much much better than the terrible ending to the main game. All in all, this package is an enjoyable, if dumb, ride. The Scorcher s also makes an entirely necessary addition by allowing the player to continue in the Wasteland after the credits roll, a feature bafflingly nonexistent in the main game.
Rage was a simply beautiful looking game, and (on consoles) hasn’t really been matched since. Everything runs so incredibly well, in a way which has been vanishing as consoles are pushed to the limit (just look at Assassin’s Creed 3!). There are some truly jaw dropping moments and some really wonderful vistas. Sure, it’s gameplay isn’t quite as good as it’s looks, but considering the price Rage goes for these days that can be forgiven. The voice acting for The Scorchers is pretty excellent, particularly for Sarah. Sarah is sadly one of the biggest let downs of this DLC however; her VA does a great job, and she’s very charming and likeable, but her over-the-top sexy character design as well as the unnecessary forcing of her into a damsel in distress position towards the end make the character feel like a parody of ill thought out male designed female videogame characters. Despite this, The Scorchers is an excellently presented package, and it’s not difficult to see the large file size being put to use.
The Scorchers is an ambitious and, by and large, successful DLC package. So much of DLC released these days is lazy, a rushed out stop gap to keep a stream of profit until the next major release, so it’s nice to see a company do something odd and support their game so long after launch. The production values are simply wonderful, and although the shooting still isn’t particularly inspired, it’s doubtlessly a lot of fun, and most certainly worth the impressively low price on entry.