Hype Machine: An Hour With Rage

I found myself sitting in front of a screen with a pair of headphones on, wondering what was going to befall me. I was given an hour today to play Rage, the game id Software has been working on for about four years now. Now, I’ve been keeping myself in the dark about this game intentionally. I much prefer to start playing a game with no expectations, so I can’t be let down.
An incredibly large asteroid hits Earth in the opening cinematic. Before this happens, the Ark project is launched. Arks are buried deep underground with genetic samples, knowledge, and people. Those that dwell inside are considered humanity’s hope for the future.
I woke up in a stasis chamber about 100 years after the asteroid impact, and immediately upon exiting, had to look up and down to make sure my look inversion was set how I wanted it, in much the same way Halo: Combat Evolved started out. The similarities end then and there. The room is circular and there are other stasis pods, though the occupants have all died and turned into mummified corpses.

Upon exiting the room, I found myself outside in a quarry. Upon making my way out, I was accosted by a group of bandits. They probably would’ve killed me if it weren’t for the intervention of a man whose name escapes me at the moment: something-Hagar. He had me get into his buggy and took me to his place. Apparently someone from the arks, like me, is worth a lot of money. This man risked a lot to save my ass.

It became apparent how things worked in this new post-apocalyptic world. If you are a part of a certain clan or group, then you took on the name of the group as your surname. Each group of people has a territory and anybody who doesn’t have business there has no business entering and leaving alive. Also, anything you want from other people needs to be paid; there are no free rides!

Like I said, the guy risked a lot for me, so he wanted something in returned. He gave me a pistol and had me go to the bandits’ territory and kill them. They resided in what looked to be a mostly destroyed hotel or apartment building.

After dispatching a few bandits, I entered a room with a statue. I instantly fell to the floor and was pulled up by my feet. Hanging upside-down, I met what seemed to be the bandit leader. While I was unconscious, he had me taken to a kill room, and he killed me. Little did I know, my body’s nanotrites could act as a defibrillator with a short minigame using the two thumbsticks and the triggers. The electrical current going through my body also caused the bandit leader to be electrocuted to death. Escaping from the room, I blasted through the rest of the camp and zip-lined down to the entrance.

I went on a few more missions for the Hagar clan, and even a few missions for their neighbors. I don’t think I even scratched the surface of the game, which is reported to have two or three dual-layer DVDs for the Windows and Xbox 360 releases.

What gets me is just how beautiful the world is. From the desolate wasteland out in the distance to the rubble you fight through in the bandit dwelling, there is so much detail, I can’t put it into words.

Both the environment and mission structure reminds me of Borderlands. While there are a few similarities, the NPCs in Rage are a lot more fleshed out as characters. They’re not just mission dispensers.

The enemies of Rage also have more depth to them than I’m used to in a standard shooter. They’ll take cover, respond with pain when you shoot them, and pop out of cover in different ways that aren’t always predictable. It makes storming their strongholds a bit more strategic than I’m used to with a shooter and gives them a bit more humanity.

Another way of making the game a bit more strategic is the addition of multiple types of ammunition. I only got far enough that I had a pistol and a shotgun. But in the final mission I was playing, I was given “fat boy” rounds for the pistol that had a lot more umph than the standard rounds.

There’s not really a whole lot more I can say about Rage, other than having gotten to play the actual product for an hour, it has me really excited to play the game when it comes out. I have a feeling I can find myself getting lost in it for days at a time, in much the same way I found myself lost in the world of Grand Theft Auto IV or Red Dead Redemption. id has shown me that they’ve really fleshed out the game world and made it fun, challenging, and beautiful.

Developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks, Rage is coming to PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 4th in the United States and October 7th in Europe. And I hope I can budget in an almost last-minute pre-order.

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