The minute some people see the “FPS” label for this preview, they’re going to have expectations and predictions tumbling about in their minds. And when they notice that iD Software is responsible, the same team that produced FPS classics with names like “Quake” and “Wolfenstein,” they’re going to formulate even more assumptions. But before you jump the gun, you should read up on what these developers are doing to separate Rage from the rest of the pack. A post-apocalyptic shooter that sort of reminds us of Borderlands, iD is tossing in a few genre-bending elements to give their game a more dynamic theme. The atmosphere should be second-to-none as well; as a member of the Ark program – one of those lucky few who were selected to live safely underground when an asteroid wiped out the world above – you’re tasked with helping to rebuild civilization after the mass tragedy. But of course, things go loopy as some humans are mutated by the radioactivity and society in general is twisted and entirely out of whack.
Now, while you are free to roam about wherever you please right from the start, the game doesn’t lack direction. In other words, it’s not really like Fallout 3, where you can wander aimlessly almost forever; you have the freedom to explore in Rage, but it’s clear how you should proceed with the main storyline. The combination of FPS action, a few light role-playing elements, and even vehicular racing will also serve to open the game up, but iD wanted to emphasize the fact that plot is crucial and there’s a good deal of intricacy beneath the sleek surface. A complex item creation system is only one interesting mechanic you’ll find and of course, side-quests should abound, so take advantage and gain the edge over your freakish foes. We’ve seen quite a bit of “genre-blending” this generation and a lot of it is unique and appreciated. To be able to rip across a dusty, challenging course in a Mad Max-like vehicle, then battle it out with crazy mutants ala Doom, and finally settle down to some micromanagement…it’s all very appealing.
Switching weapon types and ammunition is governed by the now-familiar radial menus, which can be brought up with the quick press and hold of a certain button (likely one of the triggers). Furthermore, certain enemies and environmental situations will often dictate what you choose; there is indeed environmental interaction in the game, so when you come across water and you’ve got electricity-infused arrows, you know what to do. We’re also expecting a solid variety of enemies, as we’ve already seen more than a few types in screenshots and videos, and you can bet that each type will require a bit of knowledge and strategy. All we need is some good AI to go along with such diversity and we’ve got one heck of a cool challenge on our hands. Do you think iD can also input a reliable and responsive racing mechanic for the vehicles? It’s always a challenge when a designer takes on different gameplay elements and there’s always the risk of biting off more than they can chew. But hey, this is a talented bunch, so driving, shooting, exploring; it should all come together nicely.
Personally, being a big fan of RPGs, I’m definitely interested in the wandering and interaction with NPCs, as well as the item creation/customization system. You gather up tools and various gadgets as you explore, and as it turns out, you’ll be able to use most any seemingly random part to invent something entirely new and – hopefully – useful. The best part? You don’t need to find any sort of save spot or specific area where the creating process can take place; you can flex your inventing muscle any time you wish. Just combine the parts and pieces you have and voila! And you don’t necessarily need to build on what you already own, because you can even generate entirely new gadgets and other mini-machines that could prove very effective on the battlefield. When you step back and view it all as one project, Rage really looks very, very promising, and we should also mention that those who have seen it in action say it looks gorgeous. Lastly, the game has finally reached the point where it evidently runs just as well on the PS3 as it does on the 360 and PC, so…
For another great look, make sure to check out the latest video. It shows off lots of gameplay and provides you with a fair amount of useful info.
5/6/2010 Ben Dutka