E3: Preview: Rage
As a big fan of new game development technologies, I was extremely excited to see Rage, id Software’s next flagship title. Like Doom, and Quake before it, Rage is the title that will be showcasing the new id Tech 5 game engine. Buzzwords like “MegaTextures” keep popping up in the industry recently, and now I got to see what all the hype was about.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything that made me think “cutting edge”. In fact, everything I saw looked at best current-gen, and at worst, like games from the last couple of years. Stylistically it appears to be somewhere between Fallout 3 and Borderlands. It features a fairly trope post-apocalyptic setting as well as vehicular traversal and combat. The textures seem almost cel-shaded, which struck me as a strange choice so soon after Borderlands popularized the style.
The story is fairly standard. Apparently, a meteor struck Earth and the lucky few were put into “Arks”, or underground pods, that were designed to resurface after the devastation subsided. After making it back to the surface, you discover that many humans somehow survived the apocalypse on the surface. Of course, they have been transformed into bloodthirsty savages, as one would expect from this incredibly familiar plotline. Pods underground? Roves of savage bandits on the surface? A scheme literally called the “Eden Project” that was meant to reconstruct human civilization? Does this remind anyone of a certain Game of the Year?
Things don’t seem to improve from here. You can visit towns and speak with the zany denizens, trade goods, purchase vehicles, and play virtual board games. There is nothing new here. Then, you are sent on missions to recover important items out in the wilds… still nothing new. You go into the wilds and massacre hordes of bandits and mutants, eventually encountering a Larger Mutant © , and then a Much Larger Mutant ©. Good thing someone left a rocket launcher in the bushes over there.
I think if this game came out a few years ago, it would be a smash hit, because truly there doesn’t seem to be anything inherently bad about it. It has all the makings of a fun shooter, and you are even given a bladed boomerang, called a "wingstick", to lop off the heads of oncoming enemies. After Fallout and Borderlands, however, more of the same just isn’t going to cut it. This is a game heralded as the next generation of game technology, but I am yet to be wowed. I truly do hope that id has something up its sleeve that it’s saving for a later date. If we are lucky, this demo is just a small preview of what is to come. But if not, then it seems id has lost its legendary mojo, and all we can do is hope that, like Stella, it gets its groove back before it's fallen off the wagon completely.
Rage is slated for release in 2011. So if they really want to be revolutionary, at least they have plenty of time to, say, start over and make a new game.