There is little doubt that gamers across the globe are awaiting the looming release date of id Software's Rage with great anticipation. While it's set to hit our shores just next month, we managed to get our hands on the bad boy for a whole hour. It's introductory stuff, but we still got to fight our way through the bandit filled 'ghost hideout,' take a buggy out for some joyrides and crack some enemy skulls. It was also enough time to tackle a handful of side missions that saw us repairing a radio tower, searching for a missing person and obtaining a recipe for precious bandages that would help keep us alive. But what did we think? Well, just scroll down to get our handy dandy opinions on what is one of the biggest games of the year.
id has a lot riding on Rage. A new IP amongst a marketplace dominated by sequels, the FPS professionals hope to buck the trend and draw gamers into their post apocalyptic land. But is it worth taking the trip? If the first sixty minutes are anything to go by then start preparing your tickets.
It takes mere minutes to realise that a lot of love has been put into Rage. The introductory cut-scenes are beautiful, and thanks to idtech 5, alongside the new megatexture technology, this is one of the prettiest games on console to date. One can only drool in anticipation of the PC's possibilities once resolution and anti-aliasing settings are cranked up.
Combat thankfully appears to keep you on your toes, while remaining silky smooth all the way through. Your foes won't simply be popping in and out of cover, relegating themselves to mere target practice, but rather jump from ceilings and walls or run at you with utter violence in their eyes. Even better is that taking out the deformed creatures creates such an enjoyable experience. Movement is fluid and responsive, while your weapons provide satisfactory and destructive ends to any deadly dance you enter into.
Pistols are simple yet effective, while the shotgun bolsters pure brutality. Then there is the wingstick - the most wonderful, beautiful tool of death and absolute destruction. Launching the wing stick is simple and flawless, cutting through the air and severing limbs effortlessly, only to come right back to you like a boomerang. It's a joy to watch in action and was most definitely the highlight of the demo.
The game's revival mechanic of a defibrillator mini-game (where players match select button patterns in order to restore a varying amount of health to a downed player) is also a rather neat and interesting addition, however it remains to be seen as to whether this will quickly enter the world of tedium.
Its not all sunshine and cherry pie though, as although there appears to be a big push for the introduction of vehicles within a lot of Rage's promotion, I still don't know if I'm totally convinced. While I certainly welcome an alternative to hours of trekking through the game's world on foot, the overall control and finesse evident throughout the rest of the game just didn't seem to be there, feeling a tad out of place and unnatural. It should be noted though that we only got our hands on the introductory buggy, so with a multitude of races to run and potential upgrades to unlock, there is still plenty of time to change my mind.
Often-times it can be difficult to develop a substantial judgment of a game from sixty minutes of gameplay, especially when the full experience is said to clock in at fifteen hours. That said however, Its clear very early on that with Rage, id appear to have created yet another rock-solid FPS experience. With a wealth of side missions to delve through, a number of devastating weapons to play with and a mystery to uncover, come October this will be one game to keep your eyes firmly planted on.
Rage looks to be a combination of tightly designed gameplay and gorgeous art design and vistas to create an experience that has a very particular flow to it that a lot of old schooler FPS fans will recognise. ID have a style that is unique within the industry and it's evident in Rage, where quickly shifting through my arsenal of weapons while taking down multiple enemies had absolutely no clumsiness to it, it all just flows off the controller which is you. It feels a lot like a slower version of Quake in this regard, where movement and gunplay complement each other and bring about a massive level of satisfaction when hell is unleashed upon your enemies. It's also very creative with its weapon design too, where within the first hour of playing I was given the opportunity to use multiple types of ammo for my handgun, a 'wingstick' which ricochets off multiple bandit heads in an explosion of blood and brains, and a sniper rifle which has just enough power to pop heads off cleanly and the perfect level of reload time to keep the flow going.
And this was the biggest and most important impression I got from playing the first hour of Rage; it just flows. The combat is meaty, fluid and precise, and pacing between fights is outfitted with amazing looking scenery (largely thanks to ID Tech 5 and its awesome use of Megatexture technology) and a silky smooth 60 frames per second, a rarity among games when running on console. It's structured most similarly to Borderlands when it comes to its story and progression and one can also say it's similar in art design too, but it has a totally different feel and style in gameplay, and the same could be said for almost everything else in it.
There were a few things that did bother me - things like not being able to pick up enemies' weapon for use (it instead disappears) - so missions and the vendors are your only way of acquiring weaponry - and the stiffness in vehicle control when driving towards your next destination. They're minor, but they stood out to me especially the weapon pick up omission, although it made sense when playing more as if you were able to pick up every weapon from the get-go the satisfaction of being rewarded your own, more efficient and non-raggedy weaponry would be dulled.
It was overall a positive look into the first hour of the game though. id Software have been working on this game for years now and they've got a lot of fans and a big reputation to match, so it'll be interesting to see if the final game will match up to the quality I saw in my playtest.