Id’s latest has some massive boots to fill, with the names Quake and Doom carved firmly into each sole. With id Software, the creator of the modern FPS genre and 99 per cent of the ideas still used today, however, you can rest assured that the team behind it has the chops to pull it off.
But while Rage can be compared to a multitude of massive modern titles, to do so would be a disservice. After all, if Rage takes anything from any other games, it can only be traced back to Quake or Doom, so there’s a whole circular argument that can be neatly sidestepped by not doing any comparisons at all.
So, Rage is a tight FPS with a semi-open world central theme, wrapped around a fun racing sidegame. It slots nicely into a gamers’ shelf by floating between shooter and racer – think the solid shooting mechanics of Doom, and drop in some vehicle racing, weapon tinkering and general map travel, and you are getting pretty close.
First things first, Rage looks great. Not the best visuals ever, and suffering from the odd glitch bit of texturing (sure to be sorted soon, although beta graphics card drivers seem to help), but a solid, consistently changing world exists here, with nice draw distances, and certain slapdash charm of the buildings, areas and characters. It certainly feels alive.
The sound isn’t terrible either – vehicles and guns are punchy, and the voice acting is certainly above par. The only issue surrounding this area would be the forgettable script and people, so although the lines are delivered well, no-one will be defending the impressive characterisation of Rage.
So, we get on to gameplay. Most gamers’ initial impressions will relate directly to their exposure to both the pre-release hype and love for id – Rage is actually quite linear, and is essentially the next step in a long line of corridor shooters.
What it does do is play FPS very well – the combat mechanics and enemy behaviour make Rage a lot of old school fun without overplaying the Mr. Pop-Up card that so many are fond of. If you’ve ever played a FPS before, you know this game from the get-go.
Stick the game on a harder setting and you’ll see some good tactical play from the enemy, and the clever decision to balance the guns so well make for some fantastic on the fly play.
With a good spread of interesting weapons and ammo, often the fun is in the execution – id’s pedigree certainly shines from start to end, and with every section well populated with a mix of enemy types, there’s a lot of blasting to enjoy.
The free-roam element however, is another story – simply put, it’s very nearly unnecessary. Aside a few optional side quests returning you to previous levels, most areas which can be re-accessed serve no purpose – if you’ve killed everything they are empty, and if you have yet to visit, there isn’t any point until you have a mission. You just won’t find yourself exploring much outside of the current mission you are on.
A quick word on the driving – it is fun, and the addition of weapons and upgrades give a great Mad Max feel to the game. However, the majority of the car stuff is optional, so those opting to rush through the main quest might miss some of the fun to be had from the mentally intense driving sections.
Rage also ships with a few standard multiplayer modes, mainly based around deathmatches and the cars. Although fun in their own way, it’s fair to say that they don’t really do anything exciting or new, and certainly won’t draw many people away from Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3.
The one key gripe is this – had Rage shipped three years ago, it would have been more of a masterpiece, and sometimes it’s easy to wonder if protracted development times can hurt more than they help.
Rage isn’t trying to be any of the contemporaries it is often compared to, but a solid continuation of the legacy of previous id titles, and this does highlight the occasional lack of ambition shown here. If you found titles such as Fallout 3 too open, however, this really could be the game for you.
So, to sum up, Rage is good – very good, in fact – just not particularly genre changing. It’s linear, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing – just temper your expectations and remember all the things that make an id title great, and you’ll have a blast.
Yes, the PC version ships with a few bugs, but most can be ironed out, and you’ll have a nice, solid shooter which evokes the classics while adding a modern flavour.