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Despite our previous story about its multiplayer modes, RAGE is a single player game, through and through. But beyond the fact that it looked a lot like Borderlands with a more realistic art style (post-apocalyptic desert setting, buggies, lots of guns), we didn’t know a lot about how it would really play. Now we do, and sheer variety of things to do surprised us.
It started with a guided tour through two new areas we hadn’t seen before. One was Subway Town, the second major urban center in the game. While Wellspring was more a dusty, western-themed village, Subway Town seems far more urban – and more dangerous. Still, folks were friendly. A bartender and hooker both offered us side missions, and a rough-looking busker actually offered up a rhythm-action minigame for us to play.
We also met several new characters important to our personal quest in Subway Town, including Redstone, the town’s hard-nosed mayor, and a whole A-team-style crew of freedom fighters living in a high-tech bunker hidden beneath a mechanic’s shop. At this point in the game, you’ll be doing jobs as Redstone’s hired muscle, in order to turn things in favor of the rebels.
Now that we’d taken in the scenery, it was time to get into the action. Our demoer was sent to break a leading freedom fighter out of prison. This gave us our first look at The Authority, the real menace in the world of RAGE. Up until now, we’d just seen mutants and wasteland thugs – formidable enough to carve you into pieces, but typically not terribly tactical or well equipped. The Authority, on the other hand, are both.
Almost immediately after our arrival at the prison, a triangular UFO shows up and hovers above the battleground – turns out, it’s not a UFO at all, but an Authority drop ship, and several soldiers with red combat armor, heavy ordinance and jump jets burst from its belly. These guys are geared up and trained well. They’ll deploy personal energy shields, use recharging stations to refill their energy meters, and actually pay attention to cover and tactics. There are also automated turrets in this prison. We hate automated turrets.
Luckily, you’ve got a little something for them as wel: EMP grenades for the turrets, a deployable spider bot that will skitter up ahead of you and gun down anything it can, and pulse ammo, which electro-fries the Authority’s armor. Still, when they have the ability to drop more troops in anytime there’s a gap in the ceiling, there’s no such thing as a safe place.
Nearing the end of the level, our demoer reaches the cell blocks and flips the switch that opens all the doors – surprise! The cells were all full of raging mutants, who come charging out of the blocks in full “tear flesh from bone” mode. After a few tense moments of mutant massacre, a voice calls out to us. Turns out, there’s one cell still closed, courtesy of a special energy field. That’s our VIP.
We get down to him and shut down the field moments before the authority air-drops more troops in. So it’s another shootout, but now there’s a wing man, who can hack open doors while the player covers him, and so on.
At this point, our demoer shows off a special ammo type called a Mind Snare. Basically, it strikes the enemy and gives you control over their body, so you can send them shambling like a zombie toward their comrades – where they then self-destruct. We can’t imagine those are going to be cheap or common, but you can’t dispute their effectiveness.
Just a few seconds later, we plant a bomb on a door to blast it open and are then separated from our partner by a falling elevator. This is the end of the hands off demo, but just the beginning of our time with RAGE – it’s time for the hands on portion of the day.
Check out the next page for gameplay impressions of four more levels.