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RAGE Hands-On: The First Hour

Posted on Tuesday, September 13 @ 14:18:06 PST by

A massive meteor is about to collide with Earth and all the world's willing (and financially able) blast off to space to sleep in cryogenic chambers. Who knows what they'll find when they awaken.

I should say if they awaken, because of the 20 or so inhabitants that line the walls next to your character in RAGE after your pod has crashed back on Earth, you're the only one waking up. With no idea of where to go, what's happened, or who runs the land you've just stepped out on.

Even when John Goodman's character, Dan Hagar, saves you from a couple of bloodthirsty bandits, you'll be left with little clue as to what's going on. Settlements have sprung up, bandits and otherwise, and most everyone needs something done.

"Go clean out this garage of bandits, and I'll reward you with your own car."

"Go look for my son who was stupid enough to wander off with a gun, you can take this one."

Quest givers are just a hair's thread from whiny, but the mystery left behind after the meteor is motivation enough. So is the shooting. Gunplay is the real star in any id Software game, and it shines here. Enemies use varied tactics, whether the feral-looking bandits are swinging around on pipes and rolling underneath your shots, or the robbers holding that garage are ducking behind cover, you'll have to switch guns and tactics on the fly.

Varying ammo types also do different types of jobs. You'll take the heads off of enemies with powered up revolver slugs or set others on fire with a different type of shotgun ammunition. All of this can be picked up off the ground, but enemy guns fade away. It's disappointing to see something so natural be walled off from the player, but I couldn't complain with the arsenal I was being given.

Driving from mission to mission in these early stages was more of a chore than it was a distraction from all the shooting. Hopefully bandits will attack in route as you progress through the game, but within the first hour I wasn't very impressed.

It'd be easy to write RAGE off as a shooter with some light RPG and vehicle mechanics on top of it, but any FPS from id Software is always a master-class in dispatching enemies with hot lead. To say that I was disappointed by any one aspect would be an overstatement.

Enemy AI is impressive and the world is fully fleshed with tons of characters and things to look at. I won't judge a book by its cover and I won't judge a game by the first hour, but there's a ton of promise in RAGE. Garages host races and there are some distraction in towns. The cars handle well and zip around the wasteland like go-karts, but the shooting... The shooting is the main course.

I've essentially only played the tutorial, but RAGE was already drawing my first-person shooter instincts out like no other. Gamers with a penchant for lengthy single-player campaigns and action-game mechanics will find plenty to love in RAGE. Keep a look out for it when it lands on store shelves October 4th for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.
Related Games:   Rage

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