Spotlight: RAGE

There's a lot going on about RAGE recently, the new shooter that's coming from legendary developer id Software and publisher, Bethesda Softworks. There's been a lot of talk about comparisons to Borderlands and Fallout, because if you so much as touch the words Wasteland or Post Apocalyptic that's exactly what you're going to get.

When I hear Tim Willits talk about RAGE, see the glint of developer madness/genius behind those eyes, I can't help but smile. Tim dives into any talk about RAGE with a childhood wonder that I really wish more developers displayed. He's able to sell the product without promising false promises, or biting off more than he can chew...and from everyone we've talked to, who got hands on with across a broad spectrum of folks...RAGE is going to be something else we can truly look forwards to.

What is RAGE

It's not Borderlands, it's not a shooter per-se and it's not an RPG. It takes several of those things that we like about RPGs and marries them with id's penchant for making shooter based games. It's an experience as far as we can tell, driven by a need to explore and discover the bigger picture in a vastly different world from the one you remember as the main character. See, there's this disaster in the future that wipes out your world and thrusts you into a violent post apocalyptic landscape, littered with the remnants from the past, bandits, mutants and worse.

You wake up, emerge from your ark and go wandering.

What greets you outside is a dark vision of a possible future. You're unsure of your role in the whole thing, to begin with. So you explore, you survive and you get more and more things to play with as you embark on your journey to find out just what is going on, what you're going to bring to the table in terms of being a survivor and just who the hell the Authority are.

You could level comparisons to Borderlands and Fallout, when you look at RAGE. But RAGE is a game that should be taken at its own merit. It's not trying to present random loot every five seconds (nothing wrong with that). It's not trying to be the next post apoc RPG with stats and levelling up. It's offering a large highly detailed world to explore, with new toys and challenges around every corner. There are side quests ala RPGs and there are areas to find as you traverse the Wasteland in search of answers. It has money and an economy, which allows you to get even more toys, ammo types and gadgets.

It's a game that has a mind-control crossbow bolt, a spider-turret and stationary turret that can be used to even the odds against the enemy. You'll need them too, because unlike many games...not only is RAGE a fantastic looking sight to behold even on screenshots and has the AI to back it up.

The AI for the spider-bot is especially amusing, and quite scary to witness. It knows the environment and it can mantle up and over surfaces, leaping like a face hugger to deliver a metallic DFA (Death From Above) attack upon a bandit in cover before it scuttles off to find something else to kill, because it can. RAGE doesn't just stop the AI there though, it ties in the AI to the animation system and gives the AI states of awareness and reaction, these states aren't locked and you can interact with the AI at any point during any of them.

So for example, if you wound a bandit and he starts limping off, or falls down, he's not locked into a canned animation. You can shoot him again and again, until he dies, or leave him to crawl off and do something else. He may seek cover, he might try and find allies or he might just crawl very slowly away and die somewhere quietly.

Watching the AI in action in combat, you can see that every faction has a different set of reactions/actions and some of them have varied personalities. One of the bandit factions/clans is a particularly acrobatic one and it will move around the environment far more deftly than the others. This level of AI transforms the action in RAGE into something else, something tangible and something interesting.

Also, the shotgun is awesome, because id Software makes awesome shotguns.

There's a driving mechanic to RAGE as well, and there are buggies and other vehicles, including one that resembles an armoured tank-style APC which can destroy bandit vehicles with relative ease. You will get your own buggy, and yes, they did have buggies in Borderlands...but that's ok, there are thousands of cars on the road that all look alike for real so you know...don't worry about it.

The buggies help you traverse the Wasteland and survive out there in the inhospitable territory.

So...we have this reactive AI and nifty gadgets, ammo types and money. There are weapons which should feel very familiar. Then there's idTech 5...which has created a bone of contention and put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons. Why, not because the graphics are drop-dead amazing looking on all the platforms, not because there's a level of detail here that verges on insanity...or the smooth framerate that people have already said the game has...

No because if you're playing on PS3 or Xbox 360 you're going to have to install the game. Now we're not making this up, nope, John Carmack himself has said that the DVD latency and Blu-Ray latency is actually pretty scary on both platforms.

RAGE will take up 22GB of data on both platforms. There's no partial-install for RAGE either, it's an all or nothing deal for the Xbox 360 etc. Carmack has said though that it runs very well once installed on the HDD. I can't complain though, because I put all the L.A. Noire discs on the HDD so that's not going to be a problem for me.

For someone with a 20GB HDD or a PS3 with a 20GB HDD ...ouch...

Yet the bigger/better/more detailed things become, the larger the disc you need. It sounds though that the main bugbear is the awesome AI, it eats up a lot of console memory to do what it does and I can't complain about that, because I've wanted awesome AI in a shooter for a long time: something that gives me a run for my money but doesn't always react in the same way.

Add in the Buggy based vehicular multiplayer, the co-op Legends of the Wasteland, where you'll be able to play side missions based on single player stories you'll hear, the whole thing sounds like a worthy package. We're stoked for the game, if you can't tell, and hopefully we'll have more for you in the weeks to come as well as the full review when RAGE rolls out early October 4th for the US and 7th for the UK.

See you then!