Eurogamer Expo 2011: Rage hands-on
Although I’d already sampled RAGE briefly before Tim Willits’ developer session, after being made aware of some of the game’s finer points, I immediately ventured back for a longer and more detailed playthrough. The game’s brief intro depicts an extinction-causing meteor on a collision course with Earth and mankind’s subsequent attempts to stop it via elite teams onboard special ‘Ark’ ships. And, as the great saying goes: ‘you can’t have a post-apocalyptic game without an apocalypse’, thus, the missions were always doomed to failure.
As the game begins, I awoke from a cryogenic chamber in an Ark, surrounded by the long-deceased crew – their skeletons serving as both a reminder of the team’s failure and also representing what has happened to a large chunk of humanity. This opening was suitably bleak and really stuck in the mind. Once I escaped from this archaic tomb, I was instantly set upon by two raider-types who were intent on extinguishing my previously fortunate lifeforce. My luck held out, though, as these undesirables were taken out by a passing good Samaritan who then beckoned me over to his vehicle. This opening was compelling, plunging me immediately into a hostile world. As I laid low whilst we escaped the raiders’ territory, I was able to take in just how lush id’s new world looked.
The surrounding terrain was a feast for fans of the post-apocalyptic genre: rocky outcrops, rusted metal shacks and ruins, dusty winds and an aging sun heating it all with searing rays. Once we’d arrived back at my rescuer’s compound, I was free to explore and get to know its inhabitants. Unfortunately, the world isn’t as open as it seems, as it contains many invisible walls which prevent you from taking certain (sometimes clearly logical) routes. Much like Borderlands, your player is able to illicit speech from NPCs, but you’re not able to actually converse with them ala Fallout. I spoke to my new-found ally and accepted a mission to take out the local raiders, which seemed fair enough. I was given a beefy-looking pistol and some supplies and promised some armour and payment upon the quest’s completion. I had a quick run-through of the locals, and after a short target-hitting mini-game, was given a stack of deadly, boomerang-like ‘wingsticks’ to lob into my future enemies’ faces.
I grabbed a quad-bike from the compound’s garage and mounting it switched the view to third-person. The nifty vehicle was instantly usable (with the help of onscreen prompts) and handled supremely well. As many action games that include vehicles can often fall down at this hurdle, it’s always reassuring to pilot a vehicle which handles exactly how you’d like it to. A mini-map in the HUD showed the correct route via a snaking trail of blue circles (is there anything they can’t do?) and the short drive to the raider camp allowed me to take in and appreciate more of the local scenery. After parking up, I crossed a rope-bridge to the outpost and drew my pistol, ready to get it on.
As soon as I encountered the first foe, the game’s fluidity was wholly apparent as the pistol reacted instantly to my trigger-pulls – the oncoming raider advanced with the ill-intentioned grace of a predatorial serpent. My hand-cannon let shots go, and as each thudded into him, the raider reacted with violent physical realism.
What followed next was the massacre (including much wingstick decapitation) of an off-guard raider faction by a preserved hero from a bygone age. All was going as planned until I was snared by a raider trap, hoisted upside-down in a scripted sequence and informed of my imminent demise. I awoke in a sadist’s kill-room next to a previous, sternum-punctured victim. I was next and my captor proceeded to shove a dagger into my body, causing the screen to go black. I was then transported to a mini-game where I could defib myself back to life, which involved following two highlighted nodes with the joysticks. The amount of skill used would determine how much life I awoke with and a nice by-product of the shock meant my killer was electrocuted.
I then set about terminating the rest of the camp and looting their amoral corpses for ammo, cash and tradable items. This hands-on was an excellent introduction to the game and I immediately wanted to get further out into the wastes and carry on discovering, exploring and shooting in this mightily impressive world.