Rage Preview (PC)

Rage is awesome. And not just because id Software's Tim Willits says so, using the word at every given opportunity to describe Rage during the extended hands-off demo we're shown at a Bethesda showcase in Paris. From the moment he fires up the studio's first game since Doom 3, we're sucked into the rich and detailed world, which looks like it's running on a high-end PC, when in fact what we're looking at is currently the least stable version on Xbox 360.

That Rage's Creative Director Willits claims that the PS3 version is more stable than the 360 code being shown is astonishing. If the game looks this good in its current state on Xbox 360, then how good and how well do the other iterations of the game run? For now, that's a question that will remain unanswered, but we reckon that Rage is going to be a major tour de force in the visual department, and we can't wait to find out how well it plays.

Bandits come in numerous gangs, all violent and all sporting different attire. Kill 'em dead

On paper, Rage sounds every bit the post-apocalyptic cliché, with elements of Borderlands' arid open-world deserts and Fallout's vault-dwelling, post-nuclear narrative, but the truth is, it has the potential to be so much more. It's very much an id FPS, and being from the studio that practically invented the genre, Rage looks characteristically hardcore in the same vein as Doom or Quake. Big, bold and gloriously OTT, Rage puts its weapons centre stage with chunky assault rifles and brassy, staccato shotguns with real impact, splintering wood and carving chunks into masonry with each blast, but that's only really the tip of the iceberg.

Following the impact of an asteroid that wipes out the majority of mankind, transforming the world into a barren wasteland, Rage's protagonist – a human experiment and 'nanotrite' (nano-tech with regenerative properties) injected man-out-of-time - prematurely surfaces from an underground cryogenic facility known as an Ark. Emerging clad in a fetching and attention-grabbing Ark suit, your first port of call involves getting to the first Outfitters you can find to change your attire, avoiding the wrong kind of attention from Rage's omnipresent enemy and all-encompassing threat, The Authority.

It's not just The Authority that plagues Rage's hostile desert wastes though, as almost every kind of repellent scum imaginable roams the dusty plains looking for a fresh kill. Truly, Rage puts the 'waste' into wasteland as feral mutants and wild, violent bandits use you as target practice, attacking without warning as you make your way across the dangerous terrain and through the seedy underground. This of course provides ample opportunity to get your gun off and revel in what promises to be incredibly meaty and satisfying gunplay. And this being id, there is a variety of cacophonous, outlandish weaponry that will gradually be added to your expanding arsenal. You can carry as many guns and gadgets as you like too, as there's no encumbrance and absolutely no limits on how much firepower you can pack.

You've more than just guns at your disposal though with the Wingstick – a glaive-like throwing device that stealthily decapitates enemies, leaving a bloody, spurting neck stump where a head used to be – just one of Rage's alternate killing implements. You've also got several gadgets that can be used to distract and kill bad guys dead, such as crawling, spindly spider turrets and radio-controlled cars with explosives strapped to them. Failing to use a gadget means you can pick them up and re-use them or salvage for parts if they're expended or destroyed in the heat of battle. But before we get into the heat of battle, we need transport. We need an all-terrain buggy with turbo boosters.

Rage's buggies look...erm...awesome!

Jumping behind the wheel of said buggy once again recalls Borderlands, but Rage's take on desert driving appears to be more solid and robust, with the vehicle reacting to terrain with bouncy suspension and twin mounted machine guns tearing enemy cars into scrap metal. Following a fast, action-packed drive across the teeming hostile wilderness, fenced in by towering, craggy rock formations, it's not far to the town of Wellspring – the first of the game's two main hubs, each of which will constitute an entire disc for the Xbox 360 double disc release.

After a brief loading screen, we're plunged into a bristling hive of activity, surrounded by a variety of colourful characters and ragtag store fronts built from salvaged junk. Everywhere you look, there's someone doing something, whether it's Jackie Weeks offering you the opportunity to earn a race certificate or Ginny suggesting you purchase some new duds so you can blend in, or gruff, tough guy Dallas sat in the rowdy saloon offering you an optional mission to collect precious bottles of water for him.

Wellspring is an environment positively dripping with detail and immersive audio, like the sound of flies buzzing around a flickering lightbulb or the chattering of the folk as they wander around, going about their daily business. In fact, the audio design in general is quite exemplary, wrapping you in all manner of sounds as you walk through Rage's atmospheric world. This could make investing in a surround sound setup most definitely a worthwhile consideration.

Moving onto the first proper mission, we're lead into a water-refining plant manned by an engineer named Carlson, who needs help clearing bandits from the lower levels of the sewers below, as they've hijacked the well and are threatening to poison the water supply. Beneath the surface - covered in the distinctive graffiti tags of the Ghost clan – we get to see Rage's hulking crossbow come into play, with fizzing electro bolts loaded into its chamber. Taking out groups of lurking mutants is a simple case of firing an electrified shot into the water they're standing in, toasting them nicely in an instant. Each of Rage's weapons will have different ammo types that you can switch between, the electro bolts being just one example.

This is Ginny hanging out by the Outfitters. She suggests you get rid of your Ark costume and pick up something more appropriate

There's absolutely no doubt that Rage is very much an id game, and on this showing Willits' statement that the development team “didn't want to do another Doom or Wolfenstein,” is on course to deliver, preserving that indomitable id spirit while offering more. We reckon Rage's visuals look like concept art brought to life running and with it all running at an ultra-smooth 60-frames per second, it really does look unlike anything FPS-wise we've seen in recent years. There's added depth to be found in the upgrades and other details, but more importantly, those core shooting mechanics that make id such legends in the FPS genre look to be intact. A proper hands-on will only prove that instinct to be true, and believe us when we say it can't come soon enough.

For now we can only go on what we've seen so far, as Rage is kept out of the hands of the press for the time being. Purely on the basis of our hands-off demo, we can confidently report that Rage has all the potential to live up to the hype and if nothing else, id's enviable, unmatched FPS pedigree will ensure that it plays like a dream. “We just need to improve performance, get the bugs worked out and finish the game up,” says Willits. And we know that once that's all done, it's going to be awesome.

Rage is set for release some time in 2011.


By Krishu (SI Newbie) on Sep 02, 2011