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.
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.
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.
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.
Developer: Id Software
Genre: , Action
Available On: Mac, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Doom 3 - Hate it
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Love it
Bioshock - Love it
Twisted Metal: Black - Love it
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