RAGE is a combination of the two popular trends that I am starting to get bored of, those being:
- First Person Shooters
- Apocalyptic Settings
For me it’s nearly a recipe for disaster but, there is something different about this game that feels oddly refreshing.
I played RAGE for around an hour on the PC, using the mouse and keyboard. Playing on the PC, the first thing that is thankfully immediately apparent is that they have put the time into optimising the menus and UI for the PC version of the game, it takes advantage of the speed and versatility of the mouse and keyboard combination and does not show any marks of it’s console counterparts. My experience started of with what appears to be the very beginning of the game, you experience the creation of your character and the destruction of the planet by the asteroid, Apophis. You spring to life as the sole survivor in an underground complex known as the ‘Ark’, members of the ‘Ark’ were placed in ‘cryro-pods’ to be safeguarded from the attack so that they could lead the reconstruction of civilisation after the meteor hit.
After a brief tutorial I took my first steps into the harsh sunlit landscapes of the world of RAGE, the draw distance was fantastic and the textures were crisp and detailed. It didn’t take long before I met ‘Dan Hagar’ who saved from the feral bandit forces (before sending me back to exterminate them) and took me to the first outpost in the game, the ‘Hagar Settlement’. Like the other characters that you talk to in the game, Dan’s face animates very well and is well voiced. It didn’t take long before I had a gun in my hand and my orders from hagar in the other, as my character picked up the basic pistol for the first time he flicked it apart and spun the barrel around and then proceeded to flick the gun back together again. Although it’s a very minor part of the game, the animations and sound of the guns was something that continued to impress me throughout the demo, the animations are noticeably detailed and the sound of the gun firing, reloading and holstering sounds great which is a nice change as most shooters these days have a really light sound and feel to it, RAGE feels heavy and full of weight.
Before I actually got to shoot anything, I was required to travel back to where I entered the world via a ATV. The camera pulls out to a 3rd Person view as soon as you enter a vehicle and a bar appears on the bottom right which indicates how much boost you have left in your vehicle. The driving feels very arcad-ey, it is very easy to stop on a dime or powerslide around a corner. Your vehicle can be argumented with various weapons and other components as you progress through the game.
The actual act of shooting enemies is also very sharp, the aiming and firing feels good and the amount of bullets that the enemies feels just about right. There is a weapon that feels better than the gun in this game, and that is the ‘Wingstick’, which is basically a 3-winged boomerang with blades sharp enough to slice through a bandit’s neck. As soon as I got my hands on this weapon, I tried to use it as much as possible, you can aim for the bandit’s head and stick the dangerous device straight into their head or decapitate them if you aim slightly lower or you can aim for their legs and trip them up by slicing off one of their legs. Every time I tripped up a bandit by kindly removing one of his limbs with my ‘Wingstick’ I couldn’t help but chuckle as it is just so ridiculous to watch. I also experimented with long range shots, which are incredibly satisfying to pull of and if there are no obstacles in the ‘Wingstick’s path, it will come back to you hence not loosing any ammo.
After a mis-throw with the wingstick I was struck by a enemies blade and went into a ‘downed state’. Instead of doing the usual ‘kill an enemy while downed to get back up’, id sofware have created a very interesting method of revival. As an ark survivor when you are knocked down you can perform a procedure which is basically a extremely powerful defibrillation exercise. In a small mini-game you are asked to press a key as close as you can to the point where the two symbols are on top of each other. The closer the two symbols are to each other, the more health you will restore and the more damage you will shock your enemies with upon revival. It’s a fairly simple system but, it’s nice to see a different approach to the revival system that seems to be mirrored in every other shooter on the market.
As you dredge through the various dungeons and hideouts in the game you will pick up various bits and pieces which can be crafted into different pieces of equipment. The first thing that I crafted was a package of bandages and I later learnt how to craft a lock breaker. You will also encounter other loot that can modify the ammo type used in a particular gun or even ‘attachments’ (my first scope for my pistol was a half of a binocular that the ark survivor would hold with one hand and somehow shoot with the other).
I came away from my time with RAGE impressed, the combination of polish, the animation and sound of the guns in the game and the inventive things like the Wingstick weapon and the revival system in the game was more than enough to win me over and ignore my past gripes with the genres that the game sits in. I eagerly await this game’s release and am looking forward to seeing what other surprises id has included in the game.
RAGE is being developed by id Software and published by Bethesda, it scheduled to be released on the 4th of October in North America and the 7th of October in Europe