Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Release Date: 2011
An asteroid has beat humankind to nuking itself back to the stone age, but the results are pretty much the same. Most people are dead, mainly violent assholes survived, mutants are everywhere and the world has become a desert. You were one of the lucky few who were put into a pod underground to be protected from the blast. Once the dust and fallout settles and everything looks ok, your pod releases you. Ok, so everything’s not exactly great, but as good as it was going to get in the pod’s mind-set anyway.
The main focus is going to be on action without RPG elements. This means that there’ll be no levelling up, but the guns you find will be progressively more powerful the further into the game you get. The best news though is that you’ll have an unlimited inventory system so no fussing over which weapons to keep because of a minor stat difference, keep ‘em all you gun whore.
Weapons consist of the usual suspects and a few not so familiar ones. Along with the usual array of rusty shotguns and taped-up AK47s there’s a vicious throwing knife for stealth kills that can take a raider’s head off, mobile gun turrets that buy you some precious time in busy gun fights or you can pack a remote controlled car full of explosives and send it into a room to turn a gathering into mutant pâté. Electric crossbows can be used to your advantage in wet environments, be it in pools of water where enemies are standing, or even at wet enemies near falling water, all are ready for a good zapping. id has said new toys will be introduced during first-time visits to new environments to keep things interesting. The generous inventory system will be welcome here if you’re not keen on a new weapon. It’s so much better than the ‘just two guns and a knife’ approach, there’s nothing worse than having to abandon your favourite weapons.
Graphical detail is looking to be another strong suit for Rage for the game world and its blood-thirsty inhabitants. Environmental textures have all been hand-crafted. What does that mean? Well every rock or mountain surface should be unique. Most games create a few textures then repeat them all over, so if you walk alongside a cliff you’ll see sections of the surface start to repeat, like strips of wallpaper if you will. It’ll be an impressive feat if Rage manages to pull it off, we’d be surprised if some of the devs didn’t sneak in a little bit of copy/paste when nobody was looking though.
Animations look wonderfully fluid. When talking to an NPC called Crazy Joe, his enthusiastic hand-waving and animated posture couldn’t be more different from Fallout 3’s wooden conversational postures. Facial animation looks a little stiff at the moment, but we’d imagine that’ll be improved before release.
Enemy animation is as varied as it is smooth too. In one dark, indoors level you can see them bound over railings from walkways above or leap out from lofty perches. They’ll react to where you shoot them too. One cool animation showed one of them stumble when a loose shot caught them in the foot. It’s shaping up to be quite a battle for the best looking shooter with Killzone 3 and Gears 3 possibly losing ground already.
Enemies and mission suppliers will be members of the various groups and factions populating Rage’s world. There are bandits, raiders, gangs, settlers and the mysterious string-pullers, The Authority. The most frequent baddies on show so far are the mutants that look like a cross between Sloth from the Goonies and the goblinesque shits of films like Pandorum or The Descent. Man-sized ones shouldn’t be too much of a problem, the tower-block sized one spotted at the end of one of the trailers might need more than a few throwing knives though.
From the footage that has been available so far, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that there is also a racing side to Rage. We’ve not seen this in action yet, but we have had a brief glimpse of the buggy travelling between destinations in the wastelands. Naturally you’ll be attacked by bandits all over the place. Good thing you’ve got machine guns mounted to the front of your vehicle. You can hop out whenever you want too if you think a quick blast of the rocket launcher would be of more use.
You can make modifications to vehicles early on in the game, adding bits of armour and weapons to your specific needs (go fast and kill shit then). The vehicle handling looks to be very light as the driver was able to change directions sharply without losing control. The viewpoint zooms out to third-person so you’ll be able to maintain awareness of your surroundings better. Even so, let’s hope there won’t be too much driving back and forth between locations as that’s had a negative impact before in games like Jak 3 and Far Cry 2.
Many of the demos we’ve seen have been running on the 360, which goes to show that the console versions are getting just as much attention as the PC versions. Jeez, if it’s looking this good now, just imagine what it’ll look like come release day!
The console graphics might be on with a par with the PC version but PC gamers can still smug it up as id Software have already promised full mod support will ship with the game, enabling creative types to use the same tools as the developers. The lucky bastards.
id’s pedigree is synonymous with shooters as they’ve brought us Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake over the years. This new IP might bear many similarities to titles like Fallout 3 and Borderlands, but the level of technical polish in Rage is already outdoing the competition. We can’t wait to get our Rage on next year.