Lame Never Looked So Good
Rage is as disappointing as it is good looking. idtech5 is undoubtedly an amazing piece of technology, as is every id built engine since Doom and quite frankly it is a shame that no one outside of Bethesda is going to be able to use idtech5.
In terms of how things look as you play Rage on PC it is clear that id has succeeded in creating a beautiful looking game. Notwithstanding the technical faults once patched and drivers updated, my copy of Rage worked very well on my machine with the exception of some serious texture tearing that was very distracting for me.
In terms of gameplay the shooting mechanics are classic id. You are not encumbered with ballistics and firing from the hip and aiming down the sights don't make any difference in terms of accuracy other than a limited zoom. There are different ammo types that come in handy and are fun to use and the weapons themselves are very satisfying from their sound, heft and effects. The shotgun in this game is my favorite shotgun in a long time. Each shot impacts specific locations that have dynamic effects on the enemies that makes them flip over, roll, tumble and stumble in a visceral fashion.
The driving elements of Rage come in between as you drive from location to location to enter into a level that is a classic corridor shooter a la Doom 3. The driving is a welcome distraction from what is the game's real substance and with a game pad the vehicular portions is fun to play. On a mouse and keyboard the gameplay is much more severe and lacks any and all subtlety.
The overall narrative of Rage is any old generic post-apocalypse game where there is a totalitarian regime oppressing a scrappy resistance movement. If Occupy Wall Street and Mad Max had a one night stand then you get the idea.
My chief criticism of Rage is that id built this game for consoles and never paid much mind to how things would play out on a PC which is heart-breakingly tragic. The manner in which you switch weapons and select ammo is excellently executed on a gamepad and the driving works great with an analog stick. When you take the same gameplay schemes and force them into a mouse and keyboard then you are left with something that feels ill-conceived and poorly executed. idtech5 was built to be scalable across multiple platforms and confirgurations so that 60 frames per second is maintained whether the game is running on a midrange AMD CPU with midrange Radeon card or a 360 or PS3 or something along the lines of what I was using, a Core i7 w/8 gb RAM and GTX 580s in dual SLI. The difference being is that the engine is able to scale the resolution and special effects on the fly. That is an admirable goal and id nailed it, and stumbled across some serious technical problems like the texture pop-in or texture tearing. That being said, Rage is supposed to be a game and games are supposed to be fun and Rage's chief problem is that it isn't all that fun to play. Yeah it works after some work, but Rage could have and should have been a lot more fun and engaging to play and at the very least it should have been more well conceived for its control schemes that it functions well not only on a gamepad but mouse and keyboard as well.
There's multplayer in there too and, ironically for an id game, it is the least compelling and least interesting aspect of the game. The competitive multiplayer is combat racing and the coop multiplayer functions more like CoD's Spec Ops which is fun...to a point.
All in all Rage looks amazing and is worth checking out for that reason alone. Wait until it goes on sale and is sufficiently patched before going through the trouble of trying it out.
Here's to hoping that id and Bethesda license this technology out to other developers so that this amazing tech can be used in a game that is actually fun and compelling. ::sigh::