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.
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.[drop2]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!