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The Zelda connection is a good one: Rage forms the adventure in a similar way %26ndash; an RPG minus the traditional RPG %26lsquo;fluff%26rsquo;. It keeps the emphasis on side-quests and physical exploration: routes traversed in the buggy before caverns and abandoned structures are entered for a more traditional FPS moment. Your reward for branching out? Gun schematics and the parts needed to build them. Rage won%26rsquo;t rival Borderlands in the shooter stakes, but a grand range of weapons from the minds behind gaming%26rsquo;s greatest boomsticks is an exciting prospect.

Their approach to buggy handling also differs from Borderlands. Instead of crafting a single vehicle suited to any situation, id tweak the handling on the go to tailor the vehicle to your specific task. Enter one of the races and the suspension and traction will be adjusted for more satisfying control. It%26rsquo;s a great idea (how many sandbox games would benefit from this approach?) so here%26rsquo;s hoping it comes to fruition.

Of course, from the developers of Quake 3 Arena, all eyes are on the multiplayer. They may be disappointed. This is not the breeding ground for multiplayer carnage, but a story-driven project. Co-op is a natural fit, but even then id aren%26rsquo;t promising a drop-in, drop-out experience. Instead, co-op missions will be sprinkled throughout the game and even then, entirely optional. Complete co-op tasks and you%26rsquo;ll be rewarded in single-player. Simple, if interesting, stuff.

Alas, very little of what has been described has been seen, so there%26rsquo;s room for change. A late 2009 release date (at the earliest) leaves id with a flashy teaser trailer and a whole lot of promises. And with such a radical shift from their traditional template, even our mighty powers of speculation come up dry. Will they opt for pure shooting thrills or will the survivalist angle offer a more somber take on ammo consumption? Will the mutants explode with gore or fall convincingly? How linear will it be?

Nov 26, 2008