The lights are on
It’s been a little less than a year since our Rage cover story, and it was interesting to see how the game has been shaping up in those intervening months. In a demo ran by the game’s creative director, Tim Willits, and design director, Matt Hooper, we got to see a taste of the wasteland on the Xbox 360 version of the game, including a nice look at the game’s on-foot and vehicular combat.
If you haven’t been keeping up on the game, here’s a quick refresher. Rage is set sometime in the future, with an Earth in crisis. An asteroid smashed into the planet, killing most of its inhabitants and destroying civilization. The remaining survivors fall into three main camps: those who lived through the initial impact through blind luck, others who survived the impact thanks to a government plan, and unfortunate souls who are still alive but horribly mutated. Of the survivors, some are toiling to restore order and a semblance of normalcy to the surface. Others, including a group called the Authority, are manipulating the chaos to advance their own selfish agendas. You, the player, are the remaining member of your Ark, a small underground shelter designed to provide safe haven from the blast. When you emerge from the vessel, you discover a world in ruins that could desperately use your help. This being an id game, you can rest assured knowing that helping and shooting are synonymous with one another.
Rage is the first game to use id’s latest game engine, id Tech 5. As we stared at a wide-open canyon streaked with striations and a stunning amount of textural variety, it was clear that the technology was going to deliver more than just a bullet point on the back of the game’s box. “id Tech 5 allows us to build a handcrafted, truly unique environment,” says Willits. “Gone are the days of space corridors that look like every other space corridor that you’ve been in. In Rage, we’ve really tried to blow out not only the elements in the game design itself but in the characters that you meet and interact with.”
Moving into a nearby shack, we meet one of those characters, Crazy Joe. Joe is a bit unhinged, and he’s more than happy to connect the dots between mutant activity and mysterious Authority experiments. It might be easy to brush off such accusations—especially when the messenger is wild-eyed and prone to exaggerated gestures—but once we emerge back into daylight we’re set upon by some of those mutants. They’re feral looking things, kind of like the imps from Doom ran through a zombie filter.
No matter. After a decapitating toss of the wingstick—a bladed boomerang—and shots from more standard weapons, they’re dead. Now that the area is cleared, it’s time to hop into a buggy and make our way to the nearby town of Wellspring. The driving elements are a big part of the game, with vehicles that can be tweaked and upgraded. Hooper says that id worked to ensure that players more familiar with FPS games over racers would still feel at home, though. In essence, he says if you’re able to point a gun at an enemy and shoot, you’ll be OK.
After blasting a few bandit buggies apart with our mounted machine gun and mashing a few pedestrians into paste with our tires, we find ourselves at Wellspring. The town is an oasis in the area, built around a rare source of fresh water. It looks a bit like Fallout 3’s Megaton, with a distinctly cobbled-together feel. We wander around the town for a while before an ominous alarm sounds. Walking into the office of Carl the wellmaster, we learn that some bandits have made their way through the tunnels beneath the town and are in the middle of poisoning the water supply. As you might imagine, this is a very bad thing. Carl hands us some electrobolts, we drop down a shaft, and we’re off to save the day.
As the name suggests, the electrobolts are crossbow bolts with a bit of a kick. Walking near a group of the bandits, we hear them gloating about their success in ambushing and slaughtering some of the well’s workers. Unfortunately for them, they’re standing in pools of water. A quick shot has them flailing around helplessly as a massive blast of electricity surges through their bodies. Players also have weapons available to them besides those that they personally wield. Engineering items such as mounted turrets or spiderlike sentry bots can be used to scout ahead or establish perimeters. Players will unearth plans for these items as they explore the world, and they can be built with components that they find.
As we move from the tunnels to a larger hub area, we get a shot of the enemies’ animations in action. Some of the bandits are downright acrobatic, leaping up and over catwalks and using their hooked blades to latch onto the ceilings. “While it may look like these bandits’ traversals are somewhat scripted, they’re all dynamic,” says Hooper. “We set up the environments and we have an AI system that we use, where they completely use this environment differently. They climb all around, and every time we play through this it’s a different experience.”
Skipping ahead to another area, we see a different group of bandits. In the dam facility, we find groups of buff nationalists, who have taken to marking their clothing and bodies with a variety of flags. Unlike the sneaky, agile enemies of the well, these guys are loutish bruisers. Hooper says that enemies in Rage won’t follow a small number of generic archetypes, but will instead be grouped in a wide range of clannish groups, each with their own ways of speaking and attacking, and with unique character models.
We’re scouring the area for buggy parts, and it looks like we’re in the right place. The place looks like a garage, with red tool chests and auto-repair equipment strewn throughout the area. We overhear a few bandits talking about a secret project in the basement, and we’re detected shortly thereafter. Out of nowhere we’re lit up by a pair of headlights, and a car charges at us before we can completely process what exactly is happening. Moments before impact, the demo ends.
Until we get a controller in our hands and see exactly how it plays, it’s impossible to say too much about the game. The demo was definitely impressive though, showing off a range of level variety that id games have frankly been missing. The extra elements of vehicular combat and racing—and the customization it allows—definitely shows that the company isn’t satisfied by providing yet another FPS corridor hunt. If the game controls as well as it looks, we might have another reason to look forward to the apocalypse.
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I am a sucker for apocalypse games. So I am probably going to get it.
FINALLY SOME NEW STUFF!!!
"Apophis fell, and with dooms day began." can't stop watching that trailer. and another fact is that the asteroid is based on a real asteroid (99942 Apophis, wiki it).
Really? i mean seriously. It took u ppl that long to finally make a game that is diffrent from other games? lets see how long the game wil last. :]
Looks sweet. I've been waiting for more info on this game, and it looks like Id is ready to deliver. Can't wait to here more.
This game seems like it could be doing everything right.
That preview shows promise. Count me interested.
Customizable vehicles and placeable turrets? This sounds like it's going to be a blast.
great article the game looks great. I was worried because I hadn't heard anything about it for a while
Nice , are those screenshots of in-game graphics , cuz they sure look purty .
This looks to be superb. If it lives up to the expectations, I will definitely get it.
Anxiously awaiting this one ever since your cover story.
I WANT THIS GAME
Oh yea, I remember this game! It's been a while eh, like 8 months?
yes!! I can't wait for rage... I hope it's like fallout and borderlands combined and prettier...
I'm getting so pumped for this game... it looks like a blast to play and I haven't even seen a video yet
Hopefully this game will put id back on top.