RAGE – Hands on Preview

GAME NAME: Rage

DEVELOPER(S): id Software

PUBLISHER(S): Bethesda

PLATFORM(S): Xbox 360, PS3, PC

RELEASE DATE(S): October 7th

Check out my preview of Rage…

With an incredible host of first person shooters coming out this year, it’s hard for any particular one to stand out. Constantly overshadowed by the current boss’s of the FPS genre i.e. Call of Duty and pretty soon BattleField, a FPS has to really stand out and make itself seen and heard, or it will just end up as another Brink, a game forgotten, collecting dust after only a few hours play. So when I went to test out Rage at Bethesda’s head office [which I got lost for twenty minutes looking for] I was hoping that I would feel, as I was playing it, that it wouldn’t fail like so many other games, and I can safely say, I don’t think Rage is gonna be collecting dust anytime soon, although I am keeping my fingers crossed – after all, a lot can change between preview and actual release.

We’ve heard a lot about the new stylistic FPS called Rage – id Software’s first major new game in quite a few years – so first let’s start with a little bit about the story. Rage’s set in the not-too-distant future, 2029 to be exact, after an asteroid impacts Earth. After a dramatic, cinematic opening you awake in an underground shelter called an Ark. The Arks are the direct result of the Eden Project, a massive protect in which hundreds of cryogenic pods were sealed under the surface of the Earth with twelve people inside each. Each passenger supposedly possessed a special ability that, combined with those of the other members, would help them rebuild society. However, the player’s Ark is in sorry shape upon the start of the game – all of the other residents of the player’s Ark are corpses within their pods and the equipment of the Ark is destroyed as well. After having a look around [for the player getting used to the controls and what not] you venture outside, a savage post-apocalyptic wasteland greeting you with open arms. The few survivors of the asteroid impact have come together to form small settlements and try to rebuild humanity – of course this means an endless battle to survive, with the scarcity of food and medical supplies. Not to mention these fragile homes are constantly on the defence from raider gangs, mutants and, the main enemy in the game and your biggest problem, The Authority, an evil government regime that has a keen interest in you, dead or alive.

First thing’s first, I noted how Rage tries hard to establish a convincing game world that makes you feel that you are part of a much bigger and evolving storyline. But what really hit me into my first few minutes of the game were the stunning graphics – powered by id’s revolutionary idTech 5 technology. The post-apocalyptic world is as you would expect: landscapes with towering rock formations, devastated industrial ruins, mutant hideouts and filthy survivor camps. Each intricately detailed and sublimely rendered – the wastelands are indeed stunning graphics wise and were equally perfect for the game.

However, it’s not about how pretty the game is, but how it plays, right? So, your journey begins at a settlement, a reinforced gas station which forms the central hub where you’ll pick up your early missions, vehicles, weapons and rewards from the survivor inhabitants. As you run around gathering medical supplies, repairing radios and ending the lives of mutant baddies you will come across a fair bit of collectibles, side missions and even Easter eggs providing a fun distraction from the main storyline. One said side mission is more like a challenge – at your camp you will run into Loosum Hagar who will give you a small challenge, if you pass said challenge you gain a new weapon called a Wingstick, a metal like boomerang which when thrown at enemies has the charming ability to slice their heads clean off.

Talking of weapons – there are plenty in this game. At the start you have a simple pistol, not long later a Shotgun, but skipping forward a few hours into gameplay and you will have a vast array of toys to choice from: pistols, shotguns, machine guns, snipers, crossbows and a rocket launcher. Additional ammo types for your guns as well,  like fat boy slugs for your pistol add even more variety, with grenades, sights, and even alt fire modes allowing you to deal death during your happy killing spree. My favourite was the Pulse Shot – I won’t spoil its properties but once I had those babies in my shotgun, I was wreaking havoc.

I found the combat experience was greatly enhanced by the intelligent AI and the unique FPS enemy movement – they climb up walls and jump around maniacally like parkour runners trying to avoid your bullets – making for some exhilarating fire fights. However, I did find that sometimes it takes far more ammo then it should to take some of the enemies down, luckily there is an abundance of loot always lying around ready to be used.

So what is the actual combat like? My first boss fight I had to go for a Metal Gear Solid approach, by taking him down with grenades. Obviously, as the first boss he wasn’t that hard, but I did almost die at one point, when a sly little henchmen appeared around the corner and shot me square between the eyes a few times. That aside, it is very easy to control your character and there is no need to fear when getting into the heat of battle. I’m used to a PS3 pad and not the 360 controller, so I had to scan the button layout, but it was all standard – triggers bring up menu’s and so forth. It is very easy and quick to switch between weapons in the game, and bring out your equipment, and if your enemy is charging toward you and you’re busy reloading – just toss a Wingstick at him and then laugh at the results, then loot his body with a satisfied smile.

There are also, surprisingly but welcomed, crafting elements to this game which allow you to scavenge components to construct your own medical supplies and lock grinders and at more advanced levels, things like automated turrets and spider-bots. And on that note, there are further accessories to help you kill all who stand in your way, all with quite amusing explanations: Mind-Control Bolts, control your victim till they explode; RC Bomb Car, best idea a 12-year-old ever had; Sentry Bot, the best walking and shooting robot this side of the apocalypse. So whether I chose to jump into the fight like Rambo or use a more Solid Snake approach, I was adequately geared-up.

For an FPS shooter, Rage seems pretty damn solid. I played it for about two hours and I didn’t get bored – which is unusual for me of late. However, Rage is in a basket full of other post-apocalyptic FPSs and they are all bound to share many similarities – and indeed, in my little joy ride of the game I could pick out a handful of things that I had already seen elsewhere – however, Rage strikes me as a fantastic FPS that is worth the play through.

Rage is available for pre-order now.

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