Prior to E3, I hadn’t really been keeping up with RAGE. I knew it was coming and had seen the trailers, but just knowing it was the next new IP from industry icons id Software and John Carmack, I mostly took it on faith that it would be incredible. A new game in a unique setting, designed to showcase a brand new id engine? There’s no way they could mess it up.
So when I finally picked up the controller for RAGE, did it meet expectations? The answer might surprise you. Hit the jump.
As far as core mechanics, RAGE is about as basic as FPS’s get these days. You get your four basic weapons that you can switch out for new ones that you find, and you have one slot for other items, which can be sub-weapons, like grenades or the fairly unique Wingblade, or healing items like bandages. After that, it’s aiming down the sights at the baddies, like you’ve no doubt done a million times before. It does feature a pretty cool little crafting mechanic, which has you grabbing miscellaneous junk from the world and combining it into useful tools using recipes in your inventory, but it’s nothing particularly revolutionary.
But RAGE isn’t really about pushing the boundaries of unique gameplay, right? It’s about id Tech 5, it’s about their megatextures, it’s about showing off. And in that sense, RAGE completely fell flat for me. It was extremely bizarre, because from a distance, the game looks great. The draw distance seems to go on for miles, depth of field focus looks fantastic, and the texturing feels super realistic. But once I actually picked up the controller and got in close and started looking at things, I was actually convinced there was something wrong with my build. It didn’t look like the things I thought I’d seen. The texture were muddy from a distance of under five feet, there was no anti-aliasing to speak of, and the depth of field fuzzes out everything more than 25 feet away from you when you’re not aiming down the barrel of a gun.
The ugly graphics combined with bland gameplay and extremely uninspired sound design made RAGE one of my biggest disappointments of E3 2011. The only time I found myself having fun was during the racing sections; I actually thought the little dune buggy handled well, and the boost and weapon mechanics seemed somewhat reminiscent of Hydro Thunder. The driving sections also look better, since they keep you at arm’s length from the textures.
I’m still willing to believe there could be a good game here, but my excitement for RAGE has definitely diminished after playing the E3 demo. I was hopeful going in, but was left with such an incredible feeling of ‘meh’ that I really have to wonder if id is losing their touch. The game comes out this October, so I guess we’ll find out then. Fingers crossed.