The Average Gamer

Raging on RAGE

I purchased the PC version of RAGE on the assumption that the graphics would be better even though the control method might be designed for console. It definitely does look gorgeous and also seems far more crisp than the console version I tried at Eurogamer Expo. This is the short story of one of the worst install sequences by a major company that I’ve had to go through.

So after the mammoth installation the nightmare started with the bundled Steam. Why does every game these days have to have Steam? It was not mentioned on any retail site that this was required, so I didn’t know until it arrived. Just after installing my Internet died due to a BT fault, leading to the game not launching because Steam would try offline mode and then quit as I had no Internet to update something.

So, even though I’ve paid for the game full price, I can’t play it. How is this a better experience than pirating the game? I’m a big supporter of the gaming industry, but they really are not helping themselves with these requirements. Clearly a big part of the Steam requirement is for DRM, and yet that’s already been circumvented.

24 hours later my Internet was finally restored and I booted up Rage. Initial loading screens look nice but then the next nightmare started. The game launches and it looks like a 1990’s attempt – oh wait, there pops in the textures. Turn the camera and textures pop again. However, now I’ve noticed the worst thing; screen tearing. Yes, it tears so badly that the game is pretty much unplayable. You’d think that iD developing an FPS would realize that people like to move and turn around.

A little more information came to light when I went to find out how to fix this and there was plenty of information how to tweak the game to run better. Following suggestions for RAGE on Nvidia’s Geforce site, I set the texture mapping to 8k, hard set v-sync via Nvidia control panel and then I was off!

The game was pretty good after all that and I was really starting to enjoy it until the next day. Steam forced down an update which should fix the game and instead it renders the game unplayable. It wasn’t until I did a bit of digging to find out that the changes I had made caused the game to create another config file called video.cfg in my home folder. After removing this, the game was functioning again. Why they could not have reset everything to defaults, I’ve no idea.

Now iD have said they are working with AMD and Nvidia for the problems that are on going past the initial patch which is great, but how did it get this far? I can definitely understand the difficulty in supporting the massive amounts of PC hardware but this seems to be make it clear the PC version was an afterthought. One go was all it took for most people to see the problems. Did the iD QA team not play the game on a normal PC? Or are they running such high end systems that they didn’t even notice?

Yesterday, Kotaku ran a response from John Carmack explaining some of this:

“The driver issues at launch have been a real cluster !@#$,” he wrote. “We were quite happy with the performance improvements that we had made on AMD hardware in the months before launch; we had made significant internal changes to cater to what AMD engineers said would allow the highest performance with their driver and hardware architectures, and we went back and forth with custom extensions and driver versions.

“We knew that all older AMD drivers, and some Nvidia drivers would have problems with the game, but we were running well in-house on all of our test systems. When launch day came around and the wrong driver got released, half of our PC customers got a product that basically didn’t work. The fact that the working driver has incompatibilities with other titles doesn’t help either. Issues with older / lower end /exotic setups are to be expected on a PC release, but we were not happy with the experience on what should be prime platforms.”
Brian Crecente – Why Was The PC Launch of Rage Such A “Cluster!@#$”?, Kotaku

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a game so panned upon launch. The forums are full of people having problems. Even the Amazon rating has been hammered – just take a look at some of the one-star reviews.

I am having a great time in the PC version, I just don’t think you should take the risk until they have fixed all the issues. If you really want to play it now, I’d suggest going to buy the console version.

We’ll have a full review of the PS3 version of RAGE up next week. RAGE is out now on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Screenshots (after finally getting the damn thing to work)

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