I’m going to be completely honest here. When Bethesda and id Software announced RAGE, it didn’t spark my interest very much. Hell, even after I saw multiple gameplay videos, I still wasn’t convinced. Yet, after spending over two hours playing the game, I now feel I should smack myself for not paying more attention to this beautiful piece of work. It’s simply incredible.
My experience with RAGE picked up from the very beginning of the game. Skipping past all the story details, as I don’t want to ruin anything for you. I ended up in a very small settlement, which is essentially the training area for the game. I started off doing small missions like killing a group of hostile bandits up the road, gathering supplies for the town and searching for parts to build my own ride. The first thing you’ll notice about RAGE is the graphics. They’re un-fucking-believable, and considering I was playing the 360 version of the game, I was amazed at how good this game looks. The lighting, texture work, character detail and animations. All just absolutely beautiful. The game did suffer from some minor pop-ins, and a few jaggies but these small flaws wont lessen your experience with RAGE.
The controls in RAGE are damn near perfect. I had very little trouble adjusting to the sensitivity, and within a few seconds of moving around, I felt as if I could shoot like a pro, which is great because the AI in RAGE is quite impressive. Your typical melee enemies will rush at you, but bandits wielding a firearm will take precautions. Instead of simply crouching behind cover like most games would have the enemies do, the enemies will actually lay down on the floor and peek their heads around, poking their gun around the corner and opening fire. I’ve also seen an enemy dive on the floor and crawl behind cover as I was fired upon his buddy. It really adds a sense of realism to the gameplay, which is always a plus. Another awesome feature RAGE offers is when you shoot an enemy in, let’s say, his leg, he will fall to the ground holding his leg but, at the same time, crawl backwards while firing at you. Basically, these sons of bitches won’t go down without a fight.
The weapons in RAGE are a friggin’ blast. Every single weapon that I laid my hands on felt satisfying after each kill. My personal favorite combination was the Shotgun and Wingsticks. For those of you unfamiliar with RAGE, Wingsticks are bladed boomerangs that automatically track your enemy if thrown in their vicinity. The totally kick-ass part about these babies is they slice the head clean off. So if I’m getting attacked by multiple enemies, I can blast the first guy in the face and then, before his buddy even reaches me, I can toss a Wingstick and it’s “off with his head!” It’s a beautiful scenario that one must experience for themselves to appreciate the sheer awesomeness of it.
There are also multiple ammo types for each weapon that become very useful in certain situations. One of the alternative types of pistol ammunition I used could blow the head off an enemy and then make it burst into bits of goo, whereas the normal ammo would just knock their helmet off or drop them to the ground. One really cool feature I stumbled upon was when I was about to die. Instead of getting a “Game Over” screen and reloading a checkpoint, I was presented with a “defibrillator” mini-game, which is made up of points across the screen where you push the left and right sticks. You simply push the sticks into the correct position and with the tap of a button, you fill up the meter in the center of the screen. When the meter fills up, icons of the left and right trigger appear on the screen, going back and forth horizontally. The goal is to hit both triggers as they line up with the two boxes, which brings you back to life with full health. Yes it’s a life saver……Literally.
Since RAGE is an open world game, you’ll need to load new areas and towns you visit. Thankfully, the load times are incredibly short and painless. As you explore, you’ll have the opportunity to gather various items scattered throughout the wasteland, or by simply looting bodies. These can be used for a number of different things. Some items are component parts to build specific items like bandages, but there are also more complex gadgets. For example, certain doors have a bank-like vault on them which cannot be destroyed. After building the right contraption, you can place it on the lock, forcing it open. Of course, you’ll need to find the correct parts in order to forge these items. They’re not magical things that you can pull out of thin air whenever you please.
Over the course of your adventure, you’ll also find junk items which are only sold for money. Once you find a shop, the game will label the items in your inventory, which is great when you’re starting out and you’re unsure of what you need and don’t need. So if you find a bunch of gears, for example, the shop will tell you this particular piece can be used to make X item. You can also buy your standard health items and ammunition. If you want to modify your sweet ride, you’re going to have to race for those. By winning races, you’ll earn racing certificates that you use to purchase new upgrades or weapons. Turrets, land mines, speed boost etc. Some of the races will be simple time trials and others will include multiple racers.
The handling on the vehicles can be pretty rough at times, so don’t expect to be drifting through the wasteland pretending you’re playing The Fast and Furious because you’ll fail….miserably. The e-brake is more of a “stop dead in your tracks” brake, because that’s all it’s good for. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty forgivable… but I would personally like to see some adjustments before the game launches. You’ll also need to watch your ammo supply. Your vehicle doesn’t have unlimited ammo, but it does have unlimited boosts. As you’re driving from town to town, you’ll encounter multiple enemies in various types of vehicles. Thankfully, the game has a lock-on ability for driving so you don’t completely waste your ammo, but you still need to be careful.
Further into the demo is when RAGE really shinned for me. I needed to gain a sponsor in order to compete in one of the races. To earn that sponsor, I needed to compete in the Mutant Blast arena, which is set up like a television show. Each episode consists of a set number of waves. The first wave I played was filled with monkey-like creatures brandishing machetes. There were some fire-throwing goons in towers towards the end. Nothing too intense, but it gave you the general idea of what to expect. The second wave offered a nice twist. Instead of standard enemies, a giant robotic purple monkey with multiple blades spun around in circles inside the arena. After a few minutes, my moment of glory arrived. As a mutated freak was jumping at me through the air, I blasted his head off with a single shell from my shotgun and then quickly tossed a Wingstick, decapitating his buddy. Awesome, right? It got better. As his head flew in one direction, the force from the Wingstick knocked his body back into the devastating purple monkey, slicing his body into tiny pieces. Then it happened. Achievement unlocked! I felt like a complete fucking badass.
As I moved into the third area, the entire floor was covered in holes, which instantly screamed “DANGER” to me. The spotlights came on and as they shifted from white to red, huge spikes emerged from the floor, piercing through my enemies. Between my super awesome Wingsticks and deadly floor spikes, I breezed through the round. Being the badass that I am, I was offered a bonus round. A slot machine covered the wall of the arena and, shooting the target underneath, locked it into place. Matching all the dollar signs grants bonus money and you can keep going as much as you like until you fail, but the machine progressively gets faster after each win. The fourth wave was the most dangerous. No tricks here, but instead an enormous fucking mutant appeared before me. You remember those Venom Henchmen from Batman: Arkham Asylum? You know, those giant goons that charged at you like crazy men. Yeah, imagine that, but about a thousand times uglier and more vicious. That was my boss fight, and an intense boss fight it was. Shortly after my encounter with this beast, Bethesda kicked me to the curb and my time with RAGE ended.
Even though I spent close to three straight hours playing RAGE, I felt like I barely scratched the surface of the game. Hell, I was just starting to acquire a good arsenal. Getting to participate in activities such as the Mutant Blast was fantastic. I probably could have spent more time with the game if I hadn’t gone back for episode two. Yes, it was that fun.
I started out with no intention of ever picking up RAGE. After playing it – Bethesda was lucky they didn’t have to pry the controller from the palms of my sweaty nerdy hands.
If you had any doubts about RAGE before today, I suggest you reconsider your October purchases. If you miss out on this game, you’re only hurting yourself because it’s that damn good. This may seem like “just another FPS” to you, but trust me when I say id Software isn’t fucking around with RAGE. Get hype, you’ll love it!
RAGE will be released on October 4th for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.