PAX Prime 2011: Rage Preview
When the trailer for Rage was released, my initial thought was, “Oh wow, they totally redid the art style of Borderlands for the second game.” Then I saw the announcement of Borderlands 2 and I thought, “Wait, what the hell was that other thing I was watching?” As it turns out it was id Software’s latest game, set in a post-apocalyptic world of carnage and chaos.
You’ll take control of one of the survivors of a deadly meteorite strike, emerging from your safe haven of the Ark in a very Fallout-like fashion. The Ark, as it turns out, is a collection of cryogenic pods that were buried under the earth’s surface to preserve the lives of those inside them, in a still kinda Fallout-like fashion. It turns out the player is the only one to survive and has no recollection of his life or his objective.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons to other games with Rage because, well, it resembles a lot of other games. That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing because there are far worse things to be compared to the two previous Games of the Year. It’s even been id’s stance that they enjoy the comparisons, but are looking to prove them all wrong. From playing the demo I can say that if you pick it up and play it like Borderlands, you’re probably going to die a lot.
The gameplay involves vehicles very quickly, and it becomes clear that dune buggys and the like will become your regular mode of transportation. You’ll be able to augment and customize your cars and perform in races to gain upgrades and improvements. the upgrade element won’t end at your vehicle though, as guns will also be up for modification. The entire game seems to be heavy on RPG elements, though in the gameplay it isn’t clearly displayed in the same fashion as a Borderlands.
Rage is primarily a first-person shooter, and the controls feel like a definitive id FPS. They aren’t re-inventing the wheel, but the experience is fluid enough to keep the shooting elements interesting and keep navigation easy. The gun fights feel great, which is mostly a testament to the AI of the enemy. They won’t just come charging at you, they’ll find cover, jump and bound, flip off walls, and find angles that you won’t expect them to come from. You’ll constantly be checking your flanks and making sure no one is trying to get the upper hand on you or position themselves for a kill. You can use a little strategy in how you attack your enemy as well, thanks to a pretty reactive damage system. If you’ve got a guy on the roof, you can knock him off with one shot, take out the baddie that is charging you with another blast, and come back to the now injured and limping guy that you knocked to the ground. It adds a little more strategy than just pumping led into the first thing you see.
I don’t think anything has been written of Rage that doesn’t involve some sort of comparison to Borderlands or Fallout. It’s still inevitable at this point. However, when Rage drops on October 4, id hopes that everyone will see what the differences are. They’ve created a unique environment, gameplay style, and RPG integration that will be sure to differentiate Rage from the pack. And if it doesn’t, well, the dune buggy is pretty damn fun so you can just race that around.