|System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC|
|Dev: id Software|
|Pub: Bethesda Softworks|
|Release: October 4, 2011|
|Players: 1(2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood and gore, intense violence, strong language.|
by Adam Dodd
From the minds that brought us Doom and Quake, id Software's new game takes their trademark frenetic first-person gunplay to a post-apocalyptic wasteland complete with mutants, bladed boomerangs, and tons of guns. Having been the developer that made the first-person shooter popular in the first place with series like Wolfenstein and the aforementioned Doom and Quake, id Software has proven adept at breaking ground in this particular genre. I was lucky enough to get my anxious hands on this highly anticipated game's single-player offering. So how is it shaping up? Let's dig in and find out.
After a gorgeous opening cinematic with haunting music and title credits, I awoke in one of a handful of pods lining the inner walls of a badly busted up cryostasis chamber. The pods next to me all housed the mummified remains of long dead friends. With nothing inside the small room, I decided to explore my surroundings. Soon after leaving the relative safety of the chamber, I was immediately attacked by a trio of mutants, only surviving thanks to a few well-placed shots by a man who later introduced himself as Dan Hagart.
After a short drive in his buggy, we arrived at Dan's home base, a rusted safe haven in the middle of this mostly empty wasteland. I was soon tasked with taking out the friends of the mutants Dan had killed to save me, so with nothing but a pistol and a hankering to do some serious damage to these ugly guys, I headed out in an ATV to the mutants' home.
The controls were much of what you'd expect—shooting felt satisfying, even with the terribly underpowered pistol I was forced to start off with, and the familiar jump and crouch abilities were present to help better navigate the cluttered terrain. The enemies were able to move around the environment more gracefully than I could, vaulting over obstacles and grabbing and swinging from pipes. They were also more than capable of dodging my shots so they could get uncomfortably close. Thankfully, I could melee them away to grant you some much-needed space.
Like in Fallout 3, looting corpses and scouring every nook and cranny of the environment were very important in keeping my character stocked up on health, ammunition, and miscellaneous other items that could be forged into more useful equipment. Whenever I took too much damage and died, I had the chance to revive myself using a defibrillator minigame that would shock me back to life. It wasn't too difficult and was far more enjoyable then simply starting over from a checkpoint, and it did a fantastic job of not breaking the immersion.
RAGE's quests were pretty diverse, not limited to the fetch quests and "go kill this and come back" sort (though those were present as well.) After completing a variety of these quests, including repairing a communication tower, finding stolen beer, and delivering medical supplies, I had amassed a pretty decent arsenal of weapons. I had a pistol with a few different types of ammo, like the incredibly powerful Fat Boy slugs and the deadly Kill Boys that could fire an entire clip at once. Each weapon came with a handful of ammo types that could be found or purchased at vendors. These vendors also carried a selection of other goods and would buy the junk I found along the way, netting me some extra money.
Within the first hour, I had the opportunity to get a taste of a lot of weapons. There was everything from an assault rifle to a crossbow that seemed ideal for stealthier players. My favorite weapon actually ended up being the Wingstick—a bladed boomerang that would instantly kill an enemy before flying back to me, assuming I had thrown it correctly. Killing a mutant that had gotten too close while reloading was undeniably satisfying. All I had to do was toss the Wingstick and watch as it honed in on a mutant neck, decapitating the thing or, better yet, getting stuck in its cranium so I'd have to walk up and pull it out off of the corpse.
After buying a couple dozen of those I also had a shotgun to obliterate anything that was unfortunate enough to get too close, a sniper rifle to take out foes from afar, and a buggy to call my own. I was set and ready to head on over to Wellspring, a larger town complete with a mayor, sheriff, and a plethora of things to see and do.
RAGE wasn't just all about the shooting and the side missions; another thing that took up much of my time was the buggy. Obviously, I needed it to travel around the wasteland, and it could also be used in races, but there were also a lot of buggy combat situations thrown into the mix as well. In Wellspring, I came across my first vendor of buggy upgrades and armaments to turn my vehicle into a tank on wheels. The buggy customization was insane; I could change the paint job, gun attachments (machine guns, rocket launchers, etc.), tires, engine, and suspension. I could also purchase a bunch of tools to be used during fights, including temporary shields, drop mines, and hover turrets. Once I had my buggy decked out the way I wanted it, some of the fights could feel like Mario Kart for adults.
I went around Wellspring, making myself known and taking on whatever tasks its citizens asked of me, but eventually I needed to get myself a better buggy. To do this, I needed to compete in a special race, but before I could do that I needed to get a sponsor. After hearing about an eccentric owner of a reality TV series, I decided to head out and see if he might be interested in sponsoring me. That took me to JK Stiles, whose jolly, well-fed exterior sat on a mechanical contraption facing a series of TV screens. He agreed to sponsor me, but first I'd have to do something for him: survive five rounds in his Mutant Bash reality TV series. I had a couple dozen Wingsticks and a thirst for mutant blood, so I agreed.
The Mutant Bash arenas started off pretty straightforward; I had to eliminate the waves of mutants without dying so I could then move on to the next stage. Each stage added new elements, like a giant gorilla statue armed with sharp blades that spun around the room dicing up anything that got in its way or spotlights that moved around the room activating traps on the floor. The fifth round held a particularly nasty surprise that I won't ruin for you, but needless to say, I survived and got my sponsorship. Sadly, that was the point at which I had to quit.
From the couple hours I spent with RAGE, the similarities to games like Fallout 3 and Borderlands were easy to find. But in the end, this game takes some of the things those games did great and makes them its own. Sifting through loot isn't daunting, since not everything in the environment can be taken. The ability to use the loot you find to create things like medical supplies and lock grinders is a very nice touch. There's also an incredible level of detail in everything from the way the world looks to the music, and even the little betting games you'll find in the towns. If the first three hours of RAGE are any indication, id Software has an addictive surefire hit on their hands. And this is made even more exciting by the cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes that promise to let you experience all the game has to offer with some friends.
CCC Contributing Writer