Tuesday, October 04, 2011

First Impressions: Rage

I've come to the conclusion that id Software exists solely to make games for me to play.  Forget for a moment that I grew up playing their games.  (I still remember begging my Mom to give me the original Doom discs before Christmas so I could play the game every single day of my Christmas vacation.)  It's just that they make a shooter that contains all the stuff that I expect to find, and none of the utter crap that makes me want to punch baby unicorns.  

It's a simple recipe:  Cool weapons to shoot, bad guys to kill, and gorgeous visuals to look at.  Quick saves (not checkpoints), and no limit on the amount of weapons you can carry.  These are all the things I demand to be in my shooter. I get annoyed when I have to, for example, redo an entire level because I died two feet from the next "checkpoint".  I get annoyed when I have to drop one weapon (with tons of ammo for it) so that I can pick up a new one.  id has never let me down when it comes to these very simple mechanics.

Now...enter Rage.  This is interesting, because I realize this game is not going to win any awards with critics.  And do you know why?  Because it's not DIFFERENT.  Apparently, some time in 2003 or 2004, the definition of "different" changed in the dictionaries of all gamers to mean "better".  It's a grip I have, and getting into it would be horribly off-topic, so I'll just leave that there and perhaps discuss it at another time.  The point is, this game is going to get probably 8/10 on average.  It might even be lower, because apparently people are having texture issues which is making the game near unplayable for them.  (I have not had these issues at all.  The game runs beautifully on my system.)

That being said, I'll try not to gush like a fanboy about to lapse into a sugar-induced coma when I talk about the game.  No promises, though.

Alright, first some background.  This is the first game that is using id's new Tech 5 graphics engine, and it's breathtaking.  Back when Doom 3 was released, which was the first game to utilize the id Tech 4 engine, I was also blown away, but also did notice a few things that bothered me.  Mostly, human beings (even when they weren't zombies), freaked me the hell out!  They just didn't look good.  That's changed here, along with...well everything else.  A screenshot isn't going to show you exactly what I mean, but it be a good start.

It's so much more impressive  when it's in motion, of course, and you can pan around all you want.  It's just so -damned- good.  And it doesn't stop at the landscapes either -- the game just all around, entirely, looks fantastic.

Now for the twist.  I mean, it's id Software.  You're expecting a shooter, and this -is- a shooter for all intents and purposes.  But it's a...departure...from an -id- shooter.  The formula they use hasn't really changed since the original Wolfenstein 3D.  You can argue semantics all you want about that, but it really hasn't.  They make shooters.   Period.  And since the day different became good, id Software has sort of lost clout with the gaming community because they didn't evolve.

When I heard about some of the different things that were going to be in this game -- vehicles, RP elements, crafting -- I was worried.  I thought the last great beacon of light in my shooter world had gone out.  "Oh no!", I despaired.  "What will I do now?"  Obviously, my concern was that id Software would go in the direction of say, Activision, with their COD crap.  Or worse, abandon certain mechanics that I mentioned above because all the mainstream shooters seem to do it.  (Even Dead Space, which is a brilliant series, is GUILTY of this.  Checkpoints and weapon limitations.  WHY?)

So in loading up the game, I was filled with cautious optimism.  Then I was in awe when I saw the graphics.  Then back to cautious optimism once that shock wore off.  To make a long story short:  I LOVE YOU id SOFTWARE!  HAVE MY BABBIES!

Yes, I just gave you a screenshot of the sky.  Because it's gorgeous.  Stop complaining.

Okay, so I mentioned that this game wouldn't win any awards -- and that's because it doesn't do anything tremendously different.  I'll stop beating that dead horse now, but I do have a point here.  That is, just like Blizzard is doing with Diablo 3, id Software is doing with Rage.  They're taking what works and perfecting it.

So, here's a few things that ARE different:  For starters, you basically always have a free "life".  You have a self-defibrillator, which is basically a neat little mini-game that you play when you "die".  It basically brings you back from the dead and zaps anything near you.  Very cool.  It's sort of like Borderlands' "Second Wind" mechanic where you can bring yourself back from death.  Just with a few very important differences.

Also, the crafting system is unique in that it's probably the most simplistic system I've seen.  That is not a complaint, either.  I love it.  The thing I hate about crafting in most games is that either the materials aren't something you would find in your normal travels, or the items you can make are pretty damned useless to you.  Neither of these is true in Rage.  And, you don't have a bunch of items clogging up your inventory, either.  The materials are very streamlined and there aren't many of them to hog bag space.

Mostly everything else has been done before, and mostly, id has done it just as good, or better.  The vehicles are very much like Borderlands.  Rage's vehicles are infinitely easier to control, however.

The gunplay is very smooth, too, exactly as what I'd expect from id.  Also, something both John and I noticed, was that the AI is quite entertaining.  They will limp into cover if you manage to hit them before they're able to properly dive out of sight.  They also say some pretty entertaining things.  Best one so far was one of them yelling, "Fucking ow!" after I shot him in the face.

There's really not much of a story right now, which also doesn't surprise me for an id game.  Basically, the world got fucked by an asteroid and this is the result.  Simple.  And without any further rambling by me, here are some lovely screenshots:

Oh right, this shot.  Look how cool the quests are presented to you.  I really like this:

And a few more random ones:

I'll have more to say as I play more of the game.  And more screenshots, too, of course.  But so far, it's an excellent gaming experience!

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