Rage Updated Impressions

Dune buggies, bandits, and mutants are just some of the things we fired at in this postapocalyptic world created by id Software.

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At the Bethesda Gamers Event in Las Vegas, representatives from the Doom and Quake studio showed off Rage, their action game based on a new IP. We previously had a chance to see the game, which you can read about here, but this time, the developers walked us through several areas to highlight the diversity in the environments and the characters. The presentation began with Tim Willits, the creative director, who talked about how the idtech5 engine allowed him to do something different and change expectations about id Software. He wanted to create something unique and special that definitely had to be an "awesome first-person shooter." Willits explained that Rage, at its core, is an action game, but other elements like vehicle combat make it stand out.

The story of Rage takes place in the future where an asteroid has hit the earth and destroyed most of civilization. You play as the sole survivor of an ark that was buried underground and damaged when the asteroid hit. The government knew this was coming, so it created the ark program where it buried hundreds of self-contained arks in an attempt to save some people from the calamity. More people than expected survived the impact, but no one expected you to emerge alive. After waking up from your cryo-sleep, you see that the world is now overrun with bandits and mutants. Societies have tried to rebuild, but there's this omnipresent force known as the Authority that apparently keeps a close eye on everything and will pay good money to pick up anyone wearing an ark suit.

We started off in Crazy Joe's dilapidated shack, whom we met in our last demo. Through his wild ramblings, we learned that the mutant problem was getting worse and that the Authority has been running experiments (we were told to run if we saw one). Of course, we saw several of these tormented creatures as soon as we stepped out of Joe's hideout, but they were quickly disposed of with some well-placed bullets and a sharp boomerang device that cleanly decapitated one of them. The action looked fast and sharp, but what stood out the most was the incredible amount of detail in our surroundings. This included the wasted landscape, the tattered clothing people wore, and the interesting personalities of the characters with whom we interacted. Every area that we stepped into had enough going on for us to pause and look around closely--just to appreciate what was before us.

We jumped in a buggy and hit the gas toward Wellspring, a large town to the east. Along the way, we shot at a couple of bandits on wheels with our nimble but well-armed ride. We made short work of the bandits, so after their vehicles exploded, we were back on our way. This portion of the game felt more like an arcade-style arena battle, as the buggies swerved to dodge fire and stay on course. Willits didn't go into too much detail regarding the vehicle portion of the game other than to mention that you can compete in races to win certificates and cash them in to upgrade your buggy or win better vehicles. We were told that the world is yours to explore and that you can always travel by foot if you want or drive off into the distance without even bothering to stop at a nearby town. However, you can always kill bandits for money by talking to Sally the bartender at Wellspring, so it's up to you to decide how you want to spend your time. Willits described the game as "open but directed," which give players the choice to do what they like or follow the set path to progress through the story. You can spend dozens of hours driving around if you like to in order to build up your car and get yourself ranked on the leaderboards. No details were given at this time in regards to any of the multiplayer functionality, however.

Fend off the crazies with gadgets and other fun toys.
Fend off the crazies with gadgets and other fun toys.

Wellspring is known as the biggest town in this part of the wasteland, as the settlers were able to find a good water supply and process it, which makes this location a cornerstone for trade. Willits mentioned that id Software isn't about long cutscenes, so the narrative primarily unfolds from dialogue you have with the non-player characters. If you want to learn more about your surroundings and what's going on, you just need to talk to more people to see what they have to say. The town looked like it was built from scrap heaps, but with the twang of a guitar playing in the background, it had a sleepy, Western feel to it. It seems worth it to take your time to explore the different sections of the town--if only to see what kind of decor is on the walls, such as mutant heads or signs that say "no parking" with parking scratched out to read "peeing."

As we made our way to the town's well system, guided by a bizarre-sounding alarm, we learned that bandits had been ransacking the place and were threatening to poison the water supply. The guy managing the well filled us in on the situation and handed us some electro bolts. Thus, we armed ourselves with a crossbow and headed underground. In contrast to the open wasteland with the sun-bleached terrain, the well was an intricate network of leaky pipes and metal rafters as we tried to sneak up behind the bandits to catch them off guard. You could hear them from down the hall, and the electro bolts came in handy when they happened to be standing in a pool of water. You'll have a variety of weapons to choose from, as well as a toolbox where you can make new toy gadgets, like a remote-controlled car that blows up at your command. By collecting engineering schematics, as long as you have the parts, you can build a wide range of deadly gadgets.

These particular bandits were part of the ghost clan and moved in a swift, acrobatic type of manner. They will hop over rails nimbly and run along walls to try to kill you. It's clear that they're also very smart; we set up some turrets aimed at a doorway, and they were clever enough to hop around to knock down our machines before coming after us again. Once the fight was over, we were able to pick up the turrets again and, as long as we had the parts, rebuild them if they had been damaged.

Depending on your play style, you can spend as much, or as little time as you want upgrading your buggy.
Depending on your play style, you can spend as much, or as little time as you want upgrading your buggy.

The other area we checked out was the dam facility, where a group of crazy nationals resided in a cluttered auto repair workshop. It was like walking into another world, where even the rough textures of the walls stood out. The lighting changed the entire mood of the area as though we had really stumbled upon someone's secret hideout. Our goal here was to retrieve pieces that were missing for our buggy; so in order to get the parts, we found interesting ways of clearing out the place. Using fat boy ammo, the tattooed individuals keeled over with a single shot in the chest. A propane tank was also conveniently placed so that we could ferret out the rest that were hiding in the other room. As the nationals ran out of the room wailing and still ablaze, we finished them off one by one by firing a few rounds their way. After moving to the next room, we put down a sentry bot to scout ahead. It was a spiderlike robot that fired on sight, giving us the chance to hang back and clean up those it may have missed. Just when we thought things were over and we were in the clear to raid the dingy place, someone managed to get into a vehicle that was speeding toward us. Our demo ended before we could really react, so we were left with the image of a crazed individual that looked keen on running us over.

It's clear that, thanks to the idtech5 technology, one of Rage's specialties is the rich and vast environment that you'll be exploring--whether it is on foot or behind the wheel. Given id Software's influential history in the first-person shooter genre, we're eager to play the game for ourselves. More details are expected to be released as we head into the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo. We'll be sure to keep a close eye on Rage, as it is coming out for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 sometime next year.

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