Rage is the newest game from ID, a company that seems better known for their tech than for their gameplay. This is their second game after the less than impressive Doom 3 --- and, well, initially it generated little satisfaction. When I first rented the game and played it, I didn't like it. I didn't see the appeal. At the time, it was OK with baffling game mechanics (no usable map? When you are driving so frequently and over such a long distance of space, it makes little sense) and an admittedly amazing framerate.
A second playthrough, however, showed me the true promise of the game. Rage is an outstanding title. The gameplay is actually really good with the AI making sense and monster closets not existing. The driving even grows on you the more you do it as it handles better than you'd think. The star, though, is the engine. This is the single most impressive piece of tech I've seen this generation. 60 FPS is something that is a marvel to see and this game hits it. Even if resolution takes the occasional dip to keep up with the speed, the visuals never really make it look any worse.
The story is, as usual, crap. But I love the game. The weapons work and feel spot-on perfect. The weapons you can engineer feel truly useful. The areas are small enough to avoid making you feel like you're playing Far Cry 2, but not so small as to be totally linear. There isn't really puzzle solving to speak of, but id is one of the few companies that really get the concept of speed in gaming. You fly through levels and the enemies, while not rocket scientists, have enough tactics to actually make your assorted contacts with them feel not scripted.
The world doesn't have a ton to do in it, which is unfortunate, but there isn't a lot I can complain about here. It feels like a desolute wasteland, which is what they were shooting for, allegedly. Some things still work and it all makes sense. You're trying to handle an oppressive government which always works as a fun ride. Outside of the lack of things to do, the length of the game is the thing knocking it down from five stars. The game just isn't terribly long and there isn't a lot to do when you've finished. But the ride is well worth taking and it cannot be recommended highly enough. This is a game you really have to experience.