PAX: Rage Hands-on

The hype is justified.

Erik Norrisby Erik Norris

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I’ll admit that for the longest time I didn’t understand the hype behind Id Software’s Rage. Granted, I never got my hands on the game. But I saw all the screenshots and trailers and outside looking pretty, Rage just didn’t seem that special. I’ve got egg on my face now though. Lots of it. After playing nearly an hour of Rage’s opening, I’m happily sipping on the Kool-Aid. Rage is a beautiful open-world shooter with tight gameplay and a lot of depth.

The game opens with your character hopping into a cryosleep chamber while riding a massive asteroid (or something that looks like it) down to an alien planet. Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure what was going on, but I picked up the gist of it: you crash land on a wasteland planet and immediately have to start doing favors and making friends to survive the harsh climate made up sand and lots of savage bandits.

The first NPC you meet up with in Rage is actually voiced by John Goodman and he gets the ball rolling for you, supplying you with a pistol and some ammo, promising you that if you do a favor for him you’ll get some sweet armor. You don’t really have a choice, so you set out to perform the simple task he requests to reap your reward. In the simplest of terms, this is how gameplay is managed in Rage. The world is open for you to explore, but meeting NPCs and accepting their quests is how you move up in the world, earning better armor, equipment, weapons and vehicles to make traveling from one end of Satan’s asshole to the next that much faster and safer.

From what I played, there was plenty of variety in the various missions and side-quests to avoid making things feel stale. Granted, I only played for an hour, but hopefully the constant feeling of freshness from the demo is indicative of Rage’s full, retail campaign.

Then there are the graphics of Rage. Oh, the graphics. Rage is truly a breathtaking video game. One of the things that struck me most was the draw distance of Rage’s environment. The world Id Software created for this title feels real, almost as if the development team headed to this fictional alien world and snapped a metric crap ton of reference photos to build the game world around. But even when you pull out the magnifying glass and focus in on the minute details, Rage still manages to impress. The world might be grimy and covered in dust, but I could stare at it all day long.

Consider me now officially pumped for Rage’s release at the beginning of October. Judging from what I got to check out, Rage is shaping up to be something truly special. The game takes the questing structure of RPGs and combines it with a solid first-person shooter framework. But then again, this is Id Software we’re talking about. They are basically the godfathers of the first-person shooter genre, having created Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake. So it should mean something when I can happy lump Rage into the same pile as those classics.

Read the rest of CraveOnline's PAX Prime 2011 coverage.