id Software has been synonymous with the first-person shooter since the genre's formative years, and with good reason. From the iconic Doom to the multiplayer-pioneering Quake series, the developer has consistently provided definitive run-and-gun fests and pushed the boundaries of the FPS with every new IP. In recent years, the studio hasn't exactly been prevalent on the development front, working away on an ambitious new venture behind closed doors. Fans were given a first glimpse at the fruits of this labour three years back when Rage was unveiled at an Apple development conference. Much has changed since the project's inception, but with id's new Tech 5 engine at its core, this one is sure to be cutting-edge. We attended the firm's developer session at the Eurogamer Expo to check up on its progress.
This isn't the first game of its kind to take place against a post-apocalyptic backdrop, and it certainly won't be the last; yet the writers have strived to create a world with its own identity and origin. Set some time after a cataclysmic asteroid strike, the plot follows a lone survivor who emerges from a government arc to find a brave new world populated by raiders, mutants and other unpleasant dystopian types. Vast areas of the planet have been reduced to a harsh wasteland, while others appear relatively unscathed. From the footage on show, we were almost convinced that it has a strong Wild Western theme until creative director Tim Willits explained that the dusty location is just one of many diverse areas players will explore in the final product.
There's much more to Rage than guns and motors. The wasteland environment we saw in the demo played host to several living, breathing settlements with dozens of colourful characters to interact with and side-quests to enrol on. In this regard, it appears similar to Fallout 3 and may offer something equal in depth and scope. However, the game wears its action focus on its sleeve and is by no means an RPG. Diversity was on show throughout the demo - from the various tribes of raiders that occupy their own turf to the stark contrast between zones. We were shown the Western-influenced town of Wellspring, which looks as though it will serve as a central hub, before the action shifted to the rocky terrain of Dead City, where no man leaves alive. From the Godzilla-sized mutant that reared its head before the demonstration concluded, it was easy to see how the latter territory earned its reputation.
At present, there aren't many better looking first-person shooters on the market. id's Tech 5 engine allows Rage to run at an impressive 60 frames per second with the scenery pop-up of the studio's previous technology nowhere to be found. The level of detail and depth of field are mouth-watering. That sleek animation and lightning responsiveness, coupled with some well-rendered explosion and particle effects, make for one hell of a spectacle - and the developers still have the best part of a year to polish it up.
Rage is released for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in September 2011.
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