Google+

RAGE: Five very important things we've learned from the opening two hours

3. The racing could carry a game in itself

Seriously, the vehicular component of Rage, which I’d previously feared might be a slightly under-baked tack-on, is good. It’s no F1 2010 in terms of racing simulation, but as arcadey action-driving goes I’ve certainly played worse in dedicated racing games. Whether in an official race or just pottering around the world at large, it’s a combination of light, ultra-responsive handling (180 spins are par for the course as soon as you start using the handbrake at any speeds over starting acceleration) and weighty collision physics, meaning that navigation between areas never becomes a chore, and vehicular jostling always has a satisfying heft.

Whle the racing, particularly the weaponised stuff, is understandably knockabout, a decent understanding of racing lines and the quick-witted opportunism to know when to take advantage of them is just as important as being able to keep sustained gunfire landing on your opponents. That said, I was surprised by just how arcadey Rage’s racing is in practice, albeit in a good way. Part-way through my first race I got my buggy well and truly detonated to high heaven after being pinned down by a rival’s minigun on a long straight. I expected a forced restart of the whole race, with a potential financial penalty for repairs, or even a whole new vehicle purchase. None of it. Just a quick respawn with a couple of seconds racing time to make up, and away I went again. Like I said, this is an action game, not an RPG.

It never feels dumbed down though. It just feels fun. Really, really fun. And with no major penalties for failure, it’s an area of fun that Rage actively encourages you to partake in. And very successfully so.


4. It’s warmer and funnier than the average apocalypse

A satirically amusing and at times batshit bonkers as Fallout 3 undoubtedly is, there’s no denying that the Capital Wasteland can be a bleak place to explore. Between the cold, grey expanses of desert and the robotic shop-window mannequin mannerisms of its inhabitants, extended periods exploring the wilderness are often still a barren and isolating experience. Justin for example, just couldn’t get on with Fallout 3's atmosphere despite the game's brilliance elsewhere, and his stance is certainly justifiable.

 

Fortunately, Rage’s world has no such problems. While its Technicolor neo wild west take on the days after the end of days will certainly initially put you in mind of Borderlands, a little experience will reveal that it has a feel and humanity all of its own.

Funny and character-driven, but less overtly cartoony than Borderlands, Rage is a wonderfully vibrant, living place to spend time. It helps that, at least during the first few hours, it’s a far less sparse and spread-out environment than Fallout’s, the density of population and man-made scenery straddling a smart balance with just enough travelling time to break up the action and create a sense of real scale.

But just as important is Rage’s character cast and writing. While the dialogue I’ve experienced so far has been fun and personable (not to mention very well delivered), perhaps the most affecting element is a much subtler one. Rage’s character animation, you see, is some seriously expressive stuff. It’s nothing overly exaggerated. There are no dramatic gestures or arm-flailing gotesqueries. But that’s why it works. There’s just a very real weight and physicality to Rage’s inhabitants that suits each individual’s frame and character perfectly. Whether it’s the swinging, whirling-dervish inertia of a rampaging pack of Ghosts, the skidding back-pedal of a rapidly retreating grunt as the tides of battle turn, or just a simple arm gesture by a friendly character in conversation, there’s a warmth, vibrancy and believability to Rage’s animations that makes them feel like something far more than mere computer animations.

Also item descriptions are funny to a Fable II degree, and the slapstick animation as you crash a bike and flail through the air is so hilarious that a high-speed body-launch became my default way of arriving at any objective almost immediately.


5. Not all versions are (currently) equal

Bit of an unfortunate one, this, but I felt the need to point it out. Obviously right now the PC version of Rage is a visual stunner. And the 360 version isn't far behind. It loses a bit of the crisp, sharp detail and a little of the richness of the PC version (at least on the set-up we had in the room. Your mileage may vary), but unless you're running the two side-by-side, it's nothing you're going to notice. And unless you're very rich and a bit mad, you're not going to be running them side-by-side. The PS3 version though, which is the one I played, was a bit rough. The game ran smoothly, and was a rollicking old good time, but was plagued with texture pop-in on a near-constant basis.

Obviously this was unfinished preview code I was playing, and is currently being bug-checked before the finalised version is sent, so things may well be fine by the time Rage releases in October. But when you're waiting a second or two for environmental textures to properly load in their full detail almost every time your turn around in an FPS, it does become distracting. Particularly when you can see two other versions running right next to you with no comparable problems. Maybe it's to do with Blu-ray's notoriously slow data streaming having trouble with the new mega-texture technology that makes Rage so beautiful. Either way though, it seems it's an issue that id are aware of, and are hopefully fixing. Because in all other respects, Rage is currently one of this year's most exciting prospects.

August 02, 2011

34 comments

  • Doomsteel - May 8, 2013 2:38 p.m.

    Jeez Dave, asskiss much? any more glowing there,d be wedding rings....how much did bethesda pay for this obviously "UNBIASED" 5 things we learned article
  • mothbanquet - August 5, 2011 4:16 p.m.

    Excellent stuff, Dave. That's pretty much cleared up my concerns and heightened my hopes for this game. From the way you describe it, it sounds like id have taken a pages out of FEAR's book when it comes to the AI and that can't be a bad thing.
  • Ironclad - August 5, 2011 1:37 p.m.

    Another game that may be better looking into on the PC... played Borderlands this way & apart from having to re acustom myself with mouse & keyboard was a far better game experience. Game devs now seem to be at the point they prefer the PC rather than console & who can blame them when the focus seems to have shifted to motion control rather than dev new hardware. Thanks for the preview Dave.
  • rockbottom - August 4, 2011 5:10 p.m.

    If Id can't get the PS3 version up to the same level as the 360 or PC will they charge less for it? Will they f**K! Seriously, sort it out. Don't ship it broken.
  • Peguin - August 4, 2011 2:20 p.m.

    Another game to add to the (growing) lists of games i want this autumn
  • andybeans - August 3, 2011 1:31 p.m.

    "arch technomage John Carmack’s UNERRING ability to squeeze super-computer processing out of anything with circuits, using coding which defies the very laws of physics" - If he can't get his head round a PS3 that's not exactly "UNERRING", maybe he should stick to showing off martial arts to noobs. Cheers for the heads up Dave, won't be preordering this now, I'll stick to BF3 - at least DICE understands PS3 architecture.
  • CitizenWolfie - August 3, 2011 9:38 a.m.

    Looks like an Xbox buy for me then. I wasn't sure about this and it had fallen off my radar but this preview has swayed it. Can't wait until the release date now.
  • Fro4show - August 3, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    @ Spacegrass condescending in the way of demonstrating a attitude of superiority of having inside information but in the sport of being neutral the writer shares information then says the a retraction to contradict the previous thing he says, but a simpler way is to say contradictory. lol
  • beandipdragon101 - August 3, 2011 2:12 a.m.

    David you're quickly becoming my favorite writer on Gamesradar. I've been a fan of the site for years but just recently I've started to pay more attention to who's writing each article and your personable but professional writing style has grabbed my attention many times recently. And as for Rage I've been sold since the first concrete gameplay details emerged. I just keep getting more excited.
  • FightingMegaFoo - August 2, 2011 9:06 p.m.

    Good thing I read this. Now that I know it's not an open world RPG, I'll be cancelling my pre-order
  • Hobojedi - August 2, 2011 6:27 p.m.

    Sexiest game of the year.
  • Spacegrass - August 2, 2011 4:54 p.m.

    @Fro4show I don't think that's what "condescending" means. Are you sure you don't mean "contradictory"?
  • Spacegrass - August 2, 2011 4:52 p.m.

    I try not to be too optimistic about games that aren't out yet, but I can't help being excited for this. If RAGE is half as good as it looks, it'll at least make the wait for Skyrim a little easier.
  • Fro4show - August 2, 2011 4:48 p.m.

    I like how he describes it but it's a bit condescending. It Is, But It Isn't It's Like, but Not Quite It Could Be, but No
  • BriNk581 - August 2, 2011 4:19 p.m.

    Hmmp... Gamesradar took 60 bucks away from my wallet again
  • shawksta - August 2, 2011 4:12 p.m.

    I was interested, then unsure, this makes excited! Lets hope it doesnt dissapoint with bugs and freezes.
  • Yeager1122 - August 2, 2011 3:53 p.m.

    Cool sounds like a game where ill actually have fun shooting things again although the driving in the game really doesnt intrest me at all seems more like a way to just get around.
  • BackwaterRifle - August 2, 2011 3:47 p.m.

    This has been a day one purchase for me since January. My Xbox is coming through again with the not behind in game production. I wouldn't be worried at all though PS3 owners, as they will probably have everything polished. Also shouldn't we be comparing Apocalyptic games to Fallout: New Vegas now? I loved Fallout 3 to death but I love FONV even more. Just a thought.
  • GR_DavidHoughton - August 2, 2011 3:01 p.m.

    jackthemenace: Enemy AI is sexy stuff. It's even more important than the weapon-set to me. It totally shapes what a shooter is.
  • Ray3eam - August 2, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    I'm not sure if I should get this on PS3 or my laptop. My laptop can handle most modern games, but the I usually have to have lower settings for the graphics. That, and I doubt the games driving controls are that good on PC. I'm really interested in this game, but it's a difficult choice, any suggestions?

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000