Hot Under the Collar

RAGE is bound to be a game that divides its player base, but there can be no overlooking the technology behind it. Just don't be confused as to what kind of game it actually is.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 10, 2011
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Stop it. Just stop thinking what you're probably thinking. "Oh, hey, another review about RAGE that derides it as being a poor copycat of Fallout or Borderlands." RAGE is neither of those games, and it sure as hell doesn't want to be.

I can still remember, during my first glimpse at the game, where id Software was careful to point out that while their game has vehicles, it is not an open world game; the Mad Max-style cobbled-together buggies are there for traversal of the expanses between main hubs and a source of light car combat, but they are not made to facilitate driving around in wide open spaces. Neither is the game any kind of RPG experience; there's no leveling up, no experience, and the loot that's in the game is really just there to provide something to do between firefights.

No, this is a game that is innately id as DOOM or Quake were -- a brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable game that puts gunplay front and center of the first-person shooter again. Coupled with level design that demonstrates why id was at the forefront of FPSes in the 90s, RAGE offers an experience that is about the second-to-second moments rather than the overall scope of the world.

Make no mistake, however, RAGE is absolutely about the world. It shares plenty of thematic elements with other post-apocalyptic movies, books and, yes, games (hell, there are even Arks, something that no doubt helped draw the original Borderlands comparisons), but the vision of Earth hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into it is more detailed and true than any game I've played thus far. There's a sense of a planet in snapshot, frozen by an apocalyptic event that re-tuned the normal hustle and bustle of daily civilized life into something more on the scale of millennia than the decades of rapid advancement we're seeing now.

It all starts with you, a nameless, faceless player that wakes in a cryogenic sleeping pod as part of an Ark, one of many enclosures meant to protect the citizens of the old world from the impact and resulting aftermath of Apophis (named after the very real near-Earth asteroid that could still be gravitationally flung back toward us in 2036), in a brilliant opening CG cinematic. Waking to find all the other pods damaged and their inhabitants mummified, you walk into a world that is savage and intensely inhospitable, attacked almost immediately by a mutant and then saved at the last second by the crack shot of one Dan Hagar (voiced with gravelly oomph by John Goodman).
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