Above: Time to buy an iPad
Look at this screenshot. LOOK AT IT. Now, imagine it’s not a still image but a smoothly animated first-person shooter with rich sound and tight controls. Imagine, in fact, that it appears technologically superior to any game from the PlayStation 2/Xbox/GameCube/PSP generation. Now imagine it’s not just a tech demo, but legitimately fun. And finally, imagine you can get it on both iPad and recent-model iPhones (it’s a universal app) for only $2. Still think portable gaming is only for soccer moms and babies? The creators of Doom, Quake, and Castle Wolfenstein beg to differ…
Before the gush-fest gets further out of control, let’s get one thing straight. RAGE HD is not the same game as RAGE, the amazing-looking PC/360/PS3 shooter/vehicular action adventure that has hardcore gamers everywhere drooling all over their HD screens. It’s a much simpler down-to-basics shooter based in the same game world. And it’s really good.
On consoles, first-person shooters require sophisticated controls – one stick to look, the other to move, and triggers to fire. And a PC keyboard and mouse is even better. The iPad and iPhone have literally none of those things, so RAGE HD utilizes a unique control scheme and makes one big sacrifice to create a very playable experience.
The control scheme finds you sliding one thumb around the left of the screen to move your targeting reticule – just pretend there’s an analog stick there – and tapping buttons drawn onscreen to fire, reload, dodge momentarily to the side, and swap between pistol, shotgun, and machine gun (there may be more – these are just what we’ve found thus far). It works remarkably well too, though we had to bump the thumb-look sensitivity all the way up on both systems, and we liked the iPad's button arrangement better.
The sacrifice, in case you haven’t sussed it out by now, is that this is an on-rails shooter and not a free-roaming FPS. So you can look around pretty freely, but your feet are beyond your control. But to be honest, we didn’t care. As a 360/PS3 DLC title, this would cost $5-$10 and still score respectably. It’s one of only a handful of iPhone/iPad shooters that don’t make you feel like a martyr for playing it.
Ultimately, RAGE HD is a total victory, and the perfect example of why portable gaming is going to keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger – because the games are getting better and better. Mobile games are becoming more and more relevant to serious gamers – we’re not getting soft; mobile games are getting hard. And we love that.
Nov 18, 2010