Rage 2 picks up the story of the 2011 original, brushes off seven years of accumulated dust, and declares it still good under the Five-Second Rule. You definitely don’t need to have played Rage to understand the simple concept of a future Earth where an asteroid impact destroyed just about everything that wasn’t sheltered underground in Arks, which are basically Fallout’s vaults (without the sadistic experiments). Now Mad Max-style raiders run rampant and a techno-fascist group called The Authority is trying to kill or subjugate everything in sight – the connections to the events of Rage are thin and distant enough that Rage 2 is effectively a soft reboot.

The opening moments have a fun Duke Nukem/Bulletstorm action movie parody vibe to them, including one hilarious gag immediately after you select your character’s gender. It even goes so far as to name that character – who carries the title of Ranger – “Walker.” But it’s wildly inconsistent with that comedic tone and also tries to shoehorn in some emotional weight by introducing and immediately killing a mentor character. Every time that’s brought up it feels out of place next to all the gung-ho heroics. I wish they’d fully embraced the madcap fun with the same enthusiasm that Borderlands did with its sequel.

Throughout the course of the story there’s nothing really approaching character development for anybody, no decisions are made, and of the handful of allies you meet only the returning Doctor Kvasir stands out as remotely memorable, thanks in large part to his creepy demeanor and really gross sidekick. The original Rage’s General Cross also returns – in person this time – as a blandly evil tyrant who believes that “humanity has run its course” and should be replaced by his brand of cybernetic mutants. He doesn’t make any argument for this philosophy, so it comes off as evil for evil’s sake and makes sure Cross never becomes anything more than a cartoon villain.
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