Thereís no question that RAGE is a very big deal for iD Software. The studio has been painstakingly working on the open-world epic - and the iD Tech 5 engine - since 2007, and finally we are starting to see whether the efforts have paid off.
After playing the opening segment of the game (a good two hours from the title sequence), I reckon fans wonít be disappointed.
Its post-apocalyptic storyline borrows heavily from a combination of science fiction films, steampunk design and Mad Max
-style codes of honour. An asteroid is on a collision course for Earth, and to help rebuild the human race after the inevitable apocalypse, the Eden Project is born. Here, hundreds of humans with important traits and skills are held in cryogenic pods known as Arks and buried underground in an attempt to survive and repopulate society in the future.
Fast forward 106 years, and your character emerges from his Ark pod, only to discover that the world around you is a very dangerous place. The scorched Earth has produced nothing but a deserted landscape, and any surviving humans from the asteroid collision have formed factions. Bandits rule the open world between towns, and to make matters worse, thereís a price on the head of any Ark survivors that might appear.
You emerge just as some zombie-like dudes try to bite a chunk out of your flesh. Luckily, youíre rescued by a local friendly called Dan Hagar. He orders you to hop into his buggy so he can drive you to his settlement: a run-down, dilapidated petrol station. Hagar knows all-too-well who you are, and what youíre capable of, and so asks you to do a few tasks for him in return for your rescue. Starting with the infiltration and assassination of a nearby bandit faction known as the Ghosts.
The first thing you immediately notice in the gameplay - perhaps unfairly - is that the setup can be compared to Borderlands
. With a controller in your hands, playing RAGE
feels quite close to Gearboxís open world first-person-shooter-cum-RPG, in that the similarly desert-esque open world acts as a hub of sorts for smaller areas that work more like traditional FPS stages. Unlike Borderlands
though, thereís no role-playing fusion involved here; no numbers to crunch, just a full-on focus on action.
When you venture into the Ghost hideout, you get the chance to pick up all kinds of seemingly pointless crap thatís lying about around you. Some can be used as alternative ammunition for your guns. Other stuff can be sold on for valuable credits, or used to create items from recipes found from enemies and NPCs. Health bandages and lock grinders are examples of the kind of things you can build whilst on the move. And if youíre not careful, youíre going to need a lot of health.
These enemies arenít pushovers. They have all kinds of different manouevres and tactics to deploy when fighting against you - be it inventive use of cover in a gun battle or back-flipping all over the place and charging straight at you. When journeying to a nearby radio tower you come to face a faction of bandits called The Wasted, that look like theyíve come out of 1970s punk London - they like their shotguns and pyrotechnics. Some Ghosts come equipped with dual blades and skitter about the floor and walls to try and get close to you. You may shoot a bullet at them and theyíll just dodge out of the way like Neo in The Matrix
. The AI in iD Tech 5 is quite phenomenal.
During the Ghost hideout mission, I became caught in a trap and stabbed to death in a dungeon room. This was part of the mission and something that I couldnít control (honest), to showcase one rather funky feature that RAGE
has - the defibrillator. If you get shot to shit so much that you end up dying, you have a chance to resuscitate yourself by using the left and right stick to line up icons on the screen and pressing the triggers together to regenerate your energy. It takes a fair amount of time to recharge, so itís probably best used in a last-ditch situation (although I donít suppose many players would want to just fly in the face of danger willy-nilly anyway).
Other gameplay features of note includes the use of vehicles - itís a big, bad world out there, and within the first few missions you get to take control of your own buggy which can be kitted out with all kinds of decals, weapons and other perks. Driving around the world is as youíd expect - triggers accelerate and decelerate, and the face buttons are used to shoot the shit out of wayward bandits - and it feels quite nice to potter about at your leisure.
As you complete a selection of missions for Dan Hagar - both on foot and off - he decides that you need to be moving on to the next safe haven - and thatís Wellspring, a place that fancies itself as something of a post-apocalyptic, steampunk-inspired Western town. Thereís a mayor and a sheriff and everything. The rest of my playtest involving completing missions that would otherwise set up a much less linear adventure - changing out of my Ark clothes and into something more inconspicuous, tuning a buggy to arm with weapons and sending urgent supplies back and forth to Dan Hagar... all introductory setup stuff. I hope that after some more time, the world really opens up and gives you a free reign as to how you approach and accomplish tasks.
There are a few niggles at this stage - I was playing the PlayStation 3 version and noticed a bit of pop-in with textures, which made exploring the world slightly jarring at first. Once the textures catch up with the scenery though, itís a gorgeous sight to see. Thereís some lengthy loading times in the game too, but I imagine these issues will be sorted out imminently before release.
seems like a game that is inspired by many different things, while trying its best to be inspiring itself. While Iím unsure if it will accomplish the latter, I found it to be quite an engaging adventure in the early stages of the campaign, and I'm eager to play more. Which I guess is the mark of a good game at the end of the day, isn't it?