Published on August 3rd, 2011 | by Greg0
RAGE Preview: Cars and Guns
Precisely four years after it was announced, we’ve got some updates about the latest game from id Software. Coming soon (October 4th), for PC, PS3, and 360, and even with an iOS version a bit later, RAGE was previewed for some local press last week here in San Francisco. We got the chance to sit down with the developers, but also play what appeared to be a near-final version of the game on the 360. There weren’t any obvious limitations, nor any restrictions, on the build we used, and we played straight through from the beginning of the game until our session ended about three hours later.
What we found was a game with plenty of potential, from the Fallout-like landscape and environments to the Mad Max driving. Supposedly an open world game, we only saw the constrained early sequences where you are introduced slowly to a couple of small villages. We spent most of our time doing the primary quests, with a few side missions thrown in, but didn’t get much of a feel for the overall plot or structure. The pace of the game was measured, with combat feeling a balance of strategic (multiple weapon options) but occasionally frenetic, and pretty linear. This isn’t Quake or Doom, but the influences are clearly there- headshots are not one-shot-one-kill, and there isn’t a real cover system in place. You can jump and duck, but that’s about it, and the aiming is more PC-like than consolofied.
Often the engine behind id’s games has been a bigger draw than the more recent titles, but Rage might change that- if it can draw audiences away from the season’s other AAA titles. We only ended up interacting with a couple of the factions, but we saw signs some interesting mechanics involving territory. There are some clear RPG influences, from a very basic choice between three different “classes” to a simple crafting system that allows (and requires you) to pick up resources from around the wastelands.
Little of the game felt brand new or fresh, but most everything was well-designed and a fun blend- from the deadly boomerang-like Wingsticks to the solid and responsive if predictable AI. Scenery felt a bit repetitive, and there wasn’t a sense of urgency or wonder. Also, there wasn’t much reward for sneaking or stealth, which was a bit disappointing. And a lot of the enemies felt the same, at least in the section we played. Most encounters were rote, in fact, with enemies suddenly appearing but announcing their presence audibly, and sometimes reappearing in sections we had just cleared.
But the driving sequences, with races and time trials and upgradeable weapons for your vehicle, were fun and the freshest part of the game, and might keep us coming back. We also had fun with the hybrid card game, which encourages exploration and collection and is a mix of poker and a collectible card game like Magic: The Gathering. Your health bar isn’t large, and you will die, but there is an odd defibrillator mechanic that can bring you back to life. Throw the inventory system into the mix, and you’re in for something that isn’t totally smooth even if the shooting and driving is. Voice acting was solid, and the steampunk post-apocalypse is still a draw, and we hold out hope that Rage’s world has more to show.