When id Software releases a new IP, it’s more than a big deal — it’s an event. The veteran development studio behind classics such as Doom and Quake is preparing to unleash its next big shooter, Rage, this October. And at E3 2011, the storied studio presented a wildly diverse group of missions from the post-apocalyptic adventure to try out on the PS3 version of the game.
First things first: Rage looks fantastic. As id Software’s graphics guru John Carmack recently stated on Twitter, Rage may very well surprise gamers who expect the PS3 version to play second-fiddle to the PC version. Rage is one of the sharpest-looking games I’ve seen in a long time, with the developer’s new id Tech 5 engine really stealing the show. Walking around Rage’s post-apocalyptic wasteland should seem like a gloomy experience, but the game’s slick visuals and smooth-as-butter animations and framerate incite awe more than anything else.
Throughout Rage’s expansive single-player environments, players can talk to many characters in order to take on new missions. The first mission I checked out was called “The Missing Parts,” and it begins with the player character in an outrigger settlement (one of many disparate groups in the wasteland) searching for buggy parts that were stolen by bandits. This eventually leads to the bandit hideout, where Rage’s gunplay takes the spotlight. Players can equip a number of weapons and augment these weapons with special ammo types found throughout the game. The bandits stood no chance against my pistol’s “fat boy” slugs, but equipping a modified shotgun for close-range combat proved equally effective.
Played on the DualShock 3, Rage ‘s control setup will be intuitive to anyone who’s played a PS3 shooter. Zoom and Fire buttons are naturally mapped to the L2 and R2 buttons, respectively, and players can quickly scroll through their weapons cache with a click of the square button (UPDATE: You can also re-map these to L1 and R1). Navigating the in-game inventory is a breeze, making ammo modification and inventory management practically painless. Sub-weapons like grenades and a deadly throwing knife (the “Wingstick”) are easy to handle, and the equipping the grenade even adds a visual arc (a la UNCHARTED 2) so players can accurately aim their deadly explosives.
Rage also sports some rowdy vehicular gameplay where players can hop into a dune buggy to traverse the wasteland or take part in combat races. The E3 demo race featured a fairly straightforward track design littered with booster packs and weapon pickups. Buggy races look to be a fun diversion from the more shooter-centric gameplay that forms Rage’s core experience.
There was a ton of Rage to see at E3, including a sadistic fun-house meets Running Man-esque TV show called “Mutant Bash TV,” as well as an encounter with a Cloverfield-sized monster in the sprawling Dead City section district, but to give too much away would spoil the surprises awaiting gamers when the game hits the PS3 this October.