Our latest hands-on time with id Software's post-apocalyptic shooter took us on a daring prison break mission inside a mutant jailhouse.
Earlier in the year I had a chance to play through some of Rage's early missions set in dusty towns and mutant-filled sewers, so when I checked out the missions available at Bethesda's E3 booth, I chose one that sounded promisingly different: Authority Prison. My objective was to head into Authority territory to locate a human prisoner -- the gameplay jumped right into the action, so I don't know why the character was important, just that there was no shortage of soldiers between and my target.
The differences between Authority soldiers and the previous hoodlums I've fought was instantly apparent. While the wasteland's gang members were clad in whatever scavenged gear they could, the Authority wore matching uniforms, had bullet-absorbing armor, and electric shields. There attacks were also more focused, presenting a much tougher challenge. Thankfully I had plenty of tools at my disposal. Emp grenades did a good job of disabling their shields, but were more useful for disabling the generators that powered the deadly energy beams blocking key doorways. Although much of the level took place in corridors, it still felt less linear thanks to the impressive level of detail found in Rage's environments. I scavenged some random parts -- useful for building Rage's Quickuse items -- until the Authority forces proved overwhelming.
After burning through my assault rifle ammo, I switch to the crossbow, a weapon type I don't use much due to slow reloading speed. Luckily, I had some electric bolts handy. Shooting one of these into a soldier will electrocute him, along with anyone in his vicinity. Once I ran out of ammo for my crossbow, I really had to improvise, delving into my assortment of Quickuse items. Dropping turrets into doorways proved invaluable for fending off approaching guards, while spiderbots would seek out victims allowing me to flank enemies from behind. Switching between Quickuse items on the d-pad is instantaneous, allowing you to quickly change tactics when your plan isn't working.
After making my way to the jail cells, I flipped a switch to create a deadly diversion: Liberated mutants out of their cells, assaulting the unsuspecting Authority guards. After picking off the survivors, I made way to my imprisoned comrade and broke him out. A siren sounded as he told me to hold off the approaching guards. After setting up another turret, I pulled out my sniper rifle and aimed at a guard crouching in the corner. One shot with the overpowered weapon and the Authority soldier's head burst into pieces. What else would you expect from an id game?
My hands-on time with Rage reaffirmed how amazing id's new engine is -- few games look this good, or play this smooth. Whether Rage offers enough variety and personality to place it alongside the developer's other revered franchises remains to be seen, but our early time with the game has us eager for more.