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Hands On: RAGE

Drive angry?

Rage begins with one of the most beautiful cut scenes to grace a game, it’s truly stunning and the graphics could have been taken from Avatar. It shows the asteroid 99942 Apophis crashing into the moon and  devastating the earth, cutting between scenes of destruction and your character being placed in to a stasis pod.

Over a hundred years later you are revived and awake in the world of Rage, a devastated planet ruled by gangs of thugs, populated by mutants and peppered with settlements made out of patchwork buildings. Let’s not beat about the bush, it’s Fallout but with an asteroid rather than a nuke, stasis booths rather than vaults and… well pretty much everything else is the same, you even start in a regulation Vault Ark jump suit.


You'll be spending a lot of time in your car as you drive over the desert.
Thrown into the post-apocalyptic mix are an entire showroom of vehicles which can be weaponised and upgraded, and thankfully have sensible controls, unlike the the other its-a-bit-like-Fallout-with-vehicles game, Borderlands.  MotorStorm is an obvious comparison and you can enter races or just drive about the landscape trying to avoid bandits  and any scenery that will cause you character to fly from the seat of the quad bike and unleash one of the most over the top death screams since Killzone 3.

The story begins with you being rescued from a bunch of attacking mutants and the first hour or so acts as an tutorial of about ten missions. These involve travelling to place A, meeting character B and picking up item C.  It’s never that simple though and the character will probably want another task completing before they will give you the required item.  This is a standard game mechanic for RPGs but I did find myself thinking ‘For chrissake just one time, give me the blimmin’ item straight away’.

Once a task has been assigned it’s time to jump into your vehicle and follow the handy dotted line on the map to the quest location. Whilst driving the camera sits in a third person perspective, but after ditching the vehicle the view switches to a familiar first person shooter view, gun in hand and health bar in the corner.

Health regenerates thanks to some nanotechnology running through your blood but if you do die during a shootout the game switches to a unique defibrillator mode. The screen shows two eight pointed dials that correspond to eight directions on the joypad sticks and you  match up a sequence by pushing the sticks in the correct directions. When completed two bars slide across the screen and you have to time a press of L1 and R1 to hit a target, the closer to the target you are, the more health you have when you spring back to life. You also seem to emit some sort of electric shock field when you rise from the grave, conveniently frying any nearby enemies.

The enemies themselves are imaginatively designed – one type springs from wall to wall making them difficult to target and another group seem to be rejects from Guy Ritchie’s movies.  They wear Union Flag trousers,  have Union Flags painted across their body and say ‘w*nker’ rather a lot – I think they may be British although quite what a bunch of  East London thugs are doing in an otherwise American setting is anyone’s guess.

The animation of the enemies is particularly well done and they react in a realistic manner depending on where you shoot them. They take quite a few hits to take down, and even when they are on the floor they can still fire off a few shots until you put them down permanently.

Dead enemies can be looted for cash and supplies, but not guns which seems rather strange as you can clearly see their nice powerful automatic weapon on the floor but you cannot pick it up. Another annoyance is that when you enter a building there appears to be no map and no indication as to your final destination. The maps are not that big so you will never be totally lost but I did find myself running around in circles a few times.

I am massive fan of Fallout (not so much Borderlands due to the terrible vehicle controls) so I should be raving about the game and it is for the majority of the time a solid RPG FPS but there was one rather annoying problem.


Rage may look good but it isn't pretty.
Rage runs on the id Tech 5 engine and at first glance it looks stunning. It’s bold, bright, the frame rate is silky smooth and there are some massively detailed vistas.  However a closer inspection reveals anti-aliasing is noticeably absent and jagged edges litter the screen. This is an a massive open world RPG so we can’t expect Uncharted levels of visuals and it would unfair to criticize the game when others of the same ilk suffer the same problems but that’s not the only graphical glitch.

The version of Rage I played had noticeable texture pop up. I did a little test in one building and span quickly 180 degrees and watched as a few textures loaded in. I then span back to the way I was facing barely five seconds ago – and the textures loaded in. Then I span back, and they loaded in again.  I know the PS3 can handle a single room’s worth of textures so why I could see them gradually flickering into existence is rather worrying.

One another annoying niggle were the sparse restart points. I died during a mission and rather than restart at the beginning of that mission I was rolled back to where I had exited the building of the previous mission so I had to repeat about ten minutes of driving and talking to NPC’s.

So, cards on the table – is Rage any good? Fans of  RPG shooters such as Fallout are a forgiving lot, I have personally racked up hundred of hours in Fallout despite it crashing every other minute and it being riddled with bugs. Rage seems to be stable and I’m hopeful those textures and restart points can be sorted before it hits the shelves so it’s getting a cautious thumbs up from me.

Note: Bethesda have been in touch to say that it’s possible to autosave at any point in the game. That sorts out any checkpointing issues that might exist!

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30 Comments
  1. Lord_Gremlin
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Bad checkpoints can kill a game. Then again, would iD allow something like this kill their game?

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:11.
  2. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Hmm – Will have to keep an eye on this.

    It’s sounding a bit ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ at the moment.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:11.
    • scavenga
      Member
      Since: Jul 2009

      Well put.

      Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:32.
      • Jaffa-the-Cake
        Member
        Since: Oct 2010

        Well the main problem with it is ID decided to use nearly all the processing power of the consoles to get complex enemy AI, and they admitted that because of this there would be significant graphics defects. Strange decision really, i’m not really interested in super smart enemy AI.

        Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 20:39.
  3. R4U Eldave0
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    As more and more games have been announced I’ve slowly lost interest in this one. I might pick it up one day on the cheap but I have too many games to concentrate on between Sept-Nov as it is!

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:23.
  4. bunimomike
    Member
    Since: Jul 2009

    Looked at the first two banners and thought “awesome! Car combat!” then read the article. Dammit! Still, sounds intriguing so will keep my peepers peeled for it come review time.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:26.
  5. a inferior race
    I'm special
    Since: Jul 2009

    Could be a spot of Direct Realism going on with this game.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:32.
  6. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    i’m actually looking forward to this one.
    not something that happens with many fps titles.
    i can’t wait to try it out for myself.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 15:58.
  7. gaffers101
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    This got my attention when it was advertised during ‘The Walking Dead’ TV show. It looked great on the trailers, hope it lives up to my expectations.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 16:06.
  8. Smallville2106
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    ‘One another annoying niggle were the sparse restart points. I died during a mission and rather than restart at the beginning of that mission I was rolled back to where I had exited the building of the previous mission so I had to repeat about ten minutes of driving and talking to NPC’s.’

    I have been looking forward to this game for ages but when I read this paragraph my heart sank.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 16:58.
  9. MrJimmy
    Member
    Since: Forever

    cheers Tuffcub, ID don’t tend to do rubbish games, a cautious thumbs up is a good start! one to watch for me.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 17:10.
  10. KeRaSh
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Not that excited about this game but will probably end up buying it anyways because it reminds me of Borderlands.

    Comment posted on 02/08/2011 at 17:10.

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