The Average Gamer

E3 2011: RAGE – Hands-on Preview

RAGE_LogoSmallAt this year’s E3 Expo, nestled within the bowels of the giant Bethesda booth were loads of consoles running a demo build of id Software’s latest game called RAGE. It was finally time to get hands-on with the game I’d been following for a while to see what John Carmack and his team were cramming into the new id Tech 5 engine and how this was being turned into something fun to play.

I delved straight into the multi level demo. What struck me right from the outset was how smooth and pretty the game was. The first level I played, which was a series of interconnecting underground tunnels, was packed full of gorgeous textures with innumerable crates, pipes and other items adorning the walls and floors. The inevitable downside of this clutter were numerous hiding places for the enemy (mutants).

RAGE - Ooops. I made him explode. My bad.

Ooops! I made him explode. My bad.

The gaping holes found in many of the semi-destroyed walls quickly proved to be a problem as it made my sneaking about the level rather easy to spot. So I ditched that tactic and settled on a new one – legging it around the level and hiding behind the first crate/boulder/vehicle/pipe I could see. Yep, that worked.

As far as weapons are concerned, there are loads of them in the game but I only had time to play around with a small selection. The combat shotgun is especially awesome – this is an id game after all – and great for blowing the heads off mutants. The assault rifle is a good basic weapon and you have the authority rifle with its powerful zoom when you need something with a bit more range. I did take a shine to the striker crossbow with its electrified bolts which were brilliant for taking out whole groups of enemies in one shot. The new wingstick weapon, the triple-bladed boomerang of death, did make short work of killing mutants, but still wasn’t as fun to use as the shotgun or crossbow.

The first demo

I had actually seen the game before at last year’s Eurogamer Expo, where a live demo was played in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative audience. After watching the demo, I was more than a little disappointed. I thought the game looked rubbish. The graphics were not impressive as they looked very rough and incomplete. The mutant AI was almost non-existent and the driving sections felt like they were an afterthought. At least the developers had over a year to sort it all out before release.

RAGE - Authority vs Mutant

My money's on the guys with the shield

I can happily report that the more time I spent playing the E3 2011 demo the better it became. Many of the problems I had with the Eurogamer Expo demo had been resolved. However, the mutant AI was still as dumb as a lobotomised badger. There were glimpses of intelligence from the mutants when they would shoot me through a wall hole or sneakily lob a grenade to blow me up as I crouched for cover. The even ambushed me on occasion. But mostly they acted like an army of walking targets. Hiding behind a crate and leaving your head and limbs sticking out for all to see (and shoot) is downright dumb. Even when I blasted a mutant’s elbow whilst he was in cover failed to make him move from his position. He just sat there until I shot his head off.

To make the whole act of killing as entertaining as possible, your character can carry multiple guns, ammo types and engineering items like a super strong pack mule. The main screen was pleasingly clear of any clutter with only information about the currently equipped weapons and ammo supplies being permanently visible. Simple, informative and subtle,

Remote controlled fun

My favourite thing in the demo was the remote-controlled car bomb. I loved driving it around levels whilst being safely tucked away in some hiding spot. I drove it through little holes and down tunnels blowing up hidden generators to unlock power-sealed doors.

You couldn’t drive it too far though as you run out of signal strength eventually. One great feature is watching the mutants react when you drive up to them. Sometimes they’d spot my car and greet it with a hail of bullets, which required some creative on my part driving to keep the bomb intact. Then you would reach a point where the mutants stop shooting and start running and/or diving to get away.

The car packs a hefty amount of explosives too, producing some very impressive explosions. Fortunately, there were plenty of opportunities for me sneak up on enemies in my tiny car of death throughout the level. The sentry bots (think spider robots from Minority Report) were also fun to watch as they would wander off and kill anything that moved. They would even seek out any mutants who were hiding by climbing over, under or going around their cover. I was really glad they were on my side.

This is not Burnout

The driving levels were easily the most disappointing aspect of the whole demo. They felt not only unnecessary but also very crude in comparison to fully fledged racing games.

RAGE - Car Jump

If only the driving was this exciting

I raced several other buggies around an outdoor track with the single objective of coming first. My buggy was armed with a limited amount of rockets which I could replenish by driving over the giant pickups around the course. Blowing up each of your competitors only took one rocket hit. This made the races a complete lottery, with the race winner coming from the buggy in second place who would destroy first place in sight of the finish and take the win. I fail to see why RAGE needs these driving sections which simply distracted from the infinitely more accomplished and entertaining first-person shooter sections.


RAGE is a seriously fun FPS that has improved significantly since first seeing it last year. Whilst the mentally-retarded mutant AI and the superfluous driving sections do their best to dampen your enjoyment, they can’t keep what is a massively enjoyable shooter down. Playing with the engineering items alone (remote-controlled car bomb, sentry bots) would have been enough to keep me happy. I thoroughly recommend checking this game out when it’s released.

RAGE is scheduled for release on the 7th Oct 2011 on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.