3 Hours With Rage - BioShock Meets Fallout 3
By:
Andre Segers
|
August 2, 2011, 10:00 am

We were invited out to San Francisco last week for an extensive hands-on session with id’s Rage and what we discovered while playing surprised us. Yes, we knew to expect something special from the latest in id Software’s long line of games, but weren’t quite anticipating the unique blend of gameplay that Rage presents.

As soon as the game opened, we awoke in a strange room (right, like that hasn’t happened to you before...). It turns out we were in something called the Ark--a collection of cryogenic pods buried deep underground designed to preserve the brightest of the human race from a meteor strike that has since destroyed much of the planet and most of humanity. Unfortunately, it seems the “brightest” were perhaps frozen a bit prematurely, as this particular Ark has severely malfunctioned, killing everyone inside but ourself (good thing too, lest this would be a rather short game!).
 
 
After stepping outside into the blinding sun, we only caught a glimpse of the desert wasteland before taking fire. Luckily, a fellow named Don Hager had just rolled up in his buggy and took down the enemy threat for us, before offering a ride with him to the nearest human settlement. The route wound through mostly barren canyons, broken up only by the occasional bandit, who mercifully left us alone...for now. It's during this time that the amazing detail enabled by the id Tech 5 wow'd us, rendering rolling terrain that stretched into the distance. Imagine it as Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic setting, but even more striking. Before long, we pulled up into one of the few remaining human settlements and were immediately put to work by Don as payback for saving our hide. 

We quickly convened with the fellow settlers before setting off on our first mission: some good old-fashioned bandit killing. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools at your disposal to help mow them down, including the usual selection of pistols, rifles, shotguns, and even a crossbow. Though for now, we had but a mere pistol to our name.

Once we arrived at the bandit’s hideout, it wasn’t long before they spotted the intruder. And this is where the Bioshock-like qualities of Rage became apparent. The combat’s pacing, level design, and even the ways in which the enemies moved all had a very Bioshock-like quality to them. Every encounter felt significant in a way that blasting away [insert nationality here] in Call of Duty doesn’t quite capture. And all the while, you’ll want to scavenge the environment--like Bioshock--for ammunition, miscellaneous items that can be sold, and even spare parts. These parts can be used create different kinds of machinery using “recipes” provided by people you’ve helped.
 
For example, we usually found at least one barred door in each mission location, which generally blocked access to rooms containing many collectibles. To open these doors, we had to craft Lock Grinders by combining electrical wire, a hardware packet, and a set of small gears. Don’t worry, the process couldn’t be simpler--simply select what you want to create from the menu--as long as you have all the required parts, your creation will be ready to go instantly.
 
But what sets Rage’s combat apart from most shooters is the ability to carry up to four types of ammo for every one of your weapons. For those doing the math, 4 guns x several ammo types = a shit-ton of ways in which to decimate your opponent. For example, the generally weak pistol becomes quite the formidable opponent when equipped with the much stronger Fatboys, but you’ll find this ammo type far less frequently than the standard ammunition. This actually adds an extra layer of strategy to every battle, making you constantly evaluate the best weapon and ammo combo for any given situation, while managing your supplies.
 
 
Speaking of supplies, you’re also able to equip a secondary help-item, such as band-aids (restores your regenerating health even faster), grenades, and our personal favorite: the winglet. This motorized boomerang homes in on enemies and returns to you like a faithful pet immediately after--as long as it doesn’t get destroyed by hitting too many things on the way back.

Though the game begins relatively limited in scope, shuffling us from mission-to-mission for the first hour or so (all naturally within the context of the game), it’s clear from the get-go that this is the most expansive world id Software has ever created. And the game really begins to open up once you’ve made your way to Wellspring--a massive settlement with almost too much to do. This is where Rage really beings to strut its stuff.

In Wellspring, you’ll find countless people willing to hire you for missions, whether it’s the mayor, sheriff, or even the local bartender. Hell, there’s even a bulletin board with side missions, if you really need the money. In addition, you’re also able to buy yourself some fancy new clothes (which grant different abilities, such as discounts on purchases, or extra protection), play locals in some games of chance (such as in a Dominion-like deck-building game), or even participate in races to upgrade your vehicle.

Yes, vehicles play a very important part in Rage. Not only are they your main source of transportation, but they’re also integral in taking on the bandits roaming the wasteland. Although you start off with a mere buggy, it’s not long before you’ll be able to upgrade your vehicle and trick it out with the latest in advanced weaponry, such as machine guns, temporary shields, mines, and much more. Your ride is also equipped with an upgradeable boost system, which is key to winning races, and thereby more parts for your ride.
 
 
Though Rage’s emphasis is on a story mode deeper than anything id has done before, the game also features several multi-player modes. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to try them out, but we did learn a little more about them. In Legends of the Wasteland, you and a partner  team-up to play through new missions designed exclusively with co-op in mind. For those looking for a little more competitive edge, Combat Rally sees you racing around in an attempt to collect Rally Points, while trying to destroy your opponents to steal theirs.

Although we spent three hours with Rage, our time came to an end far too quickly. The intriguing blend of Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic setting and mission structure with the pacing and gameplay fundamentals of Bioshock makes for one of the more captivating shooters we've played in some time. Although we don’t yet know how large the world really is, it feels like we’ve only scratched the surface. Keep an eye on GameXplain.com for more on Rage as we approach its release later this year.
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Background Check: Andre
I enjoy FPS's to a point, but there needs to be some kind of hook to really get me into them. Battlefield: Bad Company 2's destructible environments caught my attention and Bioshock was another memorable shooter. I also love car combat games though it's been limited to the Twisted Metal series.

Doom 3 - Hate it
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Love it
Bioshock - Love it
Twisted Metal: Black - Love it