Reclaiming the Throne


Rage was easily one of the most impressive-looking games I saw at E3. If you've been living under a rock during the last few years, Rage is id Software's first new IP in more than a decade. So, to nobody's surprise, this game is surrounded by a sea of high expectations. Well, I've seen Rage in action, and I'm a believer. Not only does Rage look like id's best game yet, but it also looks like one of the most exciting and drop-dead gorgeous shooters in recent memory.

As the exhibitors explain the premise behind Rage, I try not to compare what I'm hearing to anything from Borderlands. Still, the parallels are there. Postapocalyptic open world? Check. Vehicles? Check. Gruesome combat? Double check. What separates Rage from Borderlands is the id Tech 5 engine. The development team states that they are aiming to have Rage run at "60 frames per second. Not 59. 60." This is a lofty goal, but if anyone can achieve it, it's id.

Rage takes place in the near future. The end is nigh; an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth. The powers-that-be have gone to great lengths to stay one step ahead of Mother Nature; the ground has been seeded with special life-preserving pods called Arks. Luckily, you've got one of your own. The grand contingency plan is carried out, but not without a hitch. Something ends up going horribly wrong while you're in stasis, and you wake up to a wasteland populated by all kinds of unsavory inhabitants. The government seems to have metamorphosized into a dictatorship that is ominously referred to as "The Authority."

The demo opens up near a town called Wellspring. The main character heads to a busted up shack that belongs to an old hermit called Crazy Joe. I understand why they call him that before he even opens his mouth; his fashion sense seems to lie somewhere between Lady Gaga and the giant bugs from Them!. He may be crazy, but he has all sorts of horrible tales to tell about the Authority and the mutants. As the MC leaves the house, bandits immediately show up. Based on their mannerisms, it appears as though they are spoiling for a bit of blood sport. The main character seems down with the idea; he produces a bladed boomerang (dubbed the wingstick) and gives it a throw. Thirty seconds later, Crazy Joe's front yard is littered with bandit heads.

Our hero travels onward to Wellspring, on foot and by vehicle. Every now and then, he's attacked by raiders, but they are no match for him. He arrives in Wellspring to find that the locals are complaining. Apparently, the water supply is being contaminated by a bandit faction known as the Ghost Clan. So, being the protagonist and all, the main character volunteers to wipe them out. And into the sewers he goes. It isn't long before he's forced to make use of his different weapons and ammo types. Members of the Ghost Clan possess remarkable agility; they run on walls and climb around like killer monkeys. Their agility is no match for the MC's weaponry, however. A crossbow is powerful, but fitting it with electro-bolt ammunition allows you to turn one kill into several kills. Dead enemies yield valuable loot that will mean the difference between life and death. This loot plays a role in the acquisition of new tools that will undoubtedly increase your odds of survival. We're talking personal turrets, friendly attack bots, and other assorted killing ordinance. None of what I saw looked particularly revolutionary, but when the action is this clean, fast, and gleefully violent, who cares?

I've got a few details from the official fact sheet regarding Rage's multiplayer features.. All I know at the moment is that Rage will feature a number of cooperative modes and a serious competitive suite.

The first-person shooter genre is no stranger to the open world formula, but Rage already looks like it may rise to be the best of its kind. Unfortunately, we're not going to be playing the game any time soon; id is only saying "2011" for now. Still, Rage should be on the radar of every single shooter fan on the planet.

Bethesda Softworks