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E3 2011: RAGE hands-on

E3 2011

Despite being id’s first new IP since Quake, RAGE has seemed to travel below the radar for many gamers. Considering how long the game ago the game was announced, it’s understandable some people may have flat out forgotten about it , but with the game only a few short months away, it’s time to remember.

What got me initially interested in RAGE was id’s promise to create a more narrative focused shooter, one that relied a little less on their corridor shooting pedigree; id has always been great at crafting first-person shooters, but it’s been a long time since I was attracted to one of their worlds. I hesitate to say RAGE follows in the footsteps of Fallout 3 or Borderlands, given how long it’s been gestating, but the near-future apocalyptic wasteland has become a popular playground – one that I’ve personally spent hundreds of hours in. I’m a big fan of factions struggling to eek by, wrestling for whatever scraps of their humanity they can cling to. And RAGE appears to be exactly that.

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Having seen videos of the ‘Dead City’ demo circulating on the internet, I decided to see what the fuss was about. Finally, playing RAGE myself, it was still surprising how good the game looked in person. id has succeeded by creating a world that feels cluttered and weathered, much like Bethesda did with Fallout 3 – only a lot prettier. The Dead City feels like an actual place, a place that at one point was lived in and is now just abandoned, left to decay. The only signs of life now are the mutants and they aren’t terribly pleased to see you on their turf.

Given the majestic, decrepit backdrop id has crafted, it’s easy to forget that RAGE is still a rock solid first-person shooter. Mutants descend on you in packs, coming from all sorts of unexpected places. The shotgun and old assault rifle struggle to keep up with their frantic movement, but a few well placed shots drops them.

Traveling deeper into the city, I found myself in a small gated area, obviously an arena for some sort of larger confrontation. A few smaller mutants spill into the fray, rushing me, while a much larger, angry looking beast lumbers in from the rear. I clear out the pests with the assault rifle and switch over to the rocket launcher I’ve still yet to try. After a handful of direct hits, the big guy still hasn’t dropped. The beast bum rushes me from the opposite side of the battleground, clipping me and dealing heavy damage. I take cover behind a bombed out vehicle, the large mutant closes ground before whipping one of his appendages in my direction, covering my vision with some sort of toxic waste. Panicking, I add some distance between the two of us and pull out a sniper rifle. Several rounds to the head later, the beast collapses; I exhale.

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Leaving the arena behind, the Dead City level continues into a short network of subway tunnels. Brief locked door puzzles provide momentary blockades, which required me to follow electrical cables running along the floor to a generator and restore power to a pair of security doors. Mutants infest the subway and have a knack for showing up while you’re distracted, following cables. Discovering the glaive-like item in my inventory, I started throwing the deadly weapon with reckless abandon, delivering satisfying one-hit kills in all directions.

Stepping back out into the desert air, a lone mutant stands far below, unaware of my presence. I pull up the scope on my rifle and align the site, a second later the mutant reacts to something to his left. A pair of armored soldiers from The Authority have arrived and the mutants obviously aren’t fans of theirs either. Dropping the few mutants in their vicinity with ease, The Authority men turn their attention to me. A single shot from my rifle drops the further of the two, causing the survivor to deploy some sort of personal energy shield. I aim for the trooper’s leg, unprotected by the shield, but miss the mark. I doubt the barrier’s ability to absorb a rocket, only to find out it can; fortunately, it wasn’t able to absorb a second.

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Searching The Authortiy’s bodies I found little of use. I make my way into an adjacent building, where an enormous creature – briefly pictured earlier – breaks through a large window. The imposing figure bears down on me, enraged. The demo comes to a close.

Playing RAGE’s Dead City did little to change my mind about the game; it only confirmed my suspicions, this game will be awesome. The little bits of exploration peppered into the demo, rewarding players for surveying their surroundings really helps to seal RAGE’s fate as more than just a shooter. With the campaign also encompassing towns, NPCs to converse with and the Mad Max-inspired dirt buggy portions of the game, there’s a whole more to RAGE than simply pointing and shooting. September can’t get here soon enough.

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @_seankelley.

Gentle persuasion

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