Rage takes hold in id’s Eurogamer Expo developer session

Of all the Dev Sessions going on over the weekend, the only one that got me interested was this one. Quake was the first LAN multiplayer game I ever played, staying late at the office just so I could pepper spray Dave from IT with a nail gun repeatedly (for ‘pepper spray Dave’, read ‘Dave annihilated everyone’. Gleefully). Doom was the first FPS I played. So when I found out id, makers of both FPS icons above were showing off Rage, their shiny new FPS, I was more than willing to stand in a queue for an hour just to watch someone else play it.

It’s been so long since these guys released a new FPS that I’ve had two kids and moved home eight times. Civilizations have fallen. Tony Blair went from never-heard-of-him to people’s choice to devil’s disciple and in that time Willits dropped nothing like a brand new shooter.

So Rage; it’s a new FPS from the people who brought you Quake. From the same people who created this huge beast of a game genre with the very first one, Wolfenstein. That’s big news people!

First impressions? It’s Fallout in first person. That’s exactly what it looks like, and I’m not the only one to think that because Willits says the very same thing later on in the session. It looks pretty damn cool. Willits rattles on about the virtual texture system that allows artists to make a game in a new way, I have no idea what it all means other than Rage looks lovely and there’s a special reason why. And that’s lovely as in you open your Christmas present and it’s your Hollywood sex symbol of choice in Xmas red and white underwear. Love. Ly.

It’s classic videogame fodder, a shooter set in the not too distant future where you play as a survivor of a planet-crippling asteroid strike who emerges from an ark buried before the disaster when the plan to lay low for as long as necessary, ready to emerge and build a brave new world, was first hatched. And when you do surface, surprise surprise, the world is populated by bandits, renegades and mutants – all of whom are more than happy to open you up and splash around in your entrails.

You ever wonder why mutants always want to kill people? You never see them wanting to kill each other, just normal people. Why haven’t they learned to integrate with the post-apocalyptic society? Your average future bad guy would have a lot of work for a gang of psychopaths with a taste for large scale, free for all, people killing. And besides all that, what about the ones that still have normal human mothers? Why did normal people shun them in the first place? They must be someone’s brother, sister, mother, father. Who would throw family out just because they’ve grown massive teeth and they keep looking at them funny? And how come they can be that madly intent on killing people but when they’re faced with an entirely different species of mutant, not a flicker of bloodlust?

Another first impression – the sounds of the guns are incredible. The assault rifle, the first gun we see in this little show, has a vicious, rasping, cavernous quality; a room-filling size. It sounds huge enough to deafen you. The pistol, that looks more like a flare gun its barrel’s so fat, has the kind of sound that makes you want to shoot off all your bullets in one go. Over your head, while shouting something in Mexican. Yummy.

And while I’m still grinning about that sound, Senior Producer Jason Kim, the man with the joy bat in his hands, takes control of a quad bike. Then he gets in a pick up truck. An armed pick up with chain guns and rockets mounted. Because there is a bit more going on in Rage than mere shooting the hell out of bad guys and genetic freaks. There’s racing around in loads of vehicles. Which, the developers are keen to make clear, is more of a side mission in the game than anything else. And they take that opportunity to stop the character in a street in Well Spring (your home base in the game) and have him play a little dice game called Tombstone, which looks somewhat like the Chess game in Star Wars. Neat.

And while Jason opens up different parts of the game and wows us all with the neat blasting and killing, Willits talks about the ways in which players will be able to build special items in Rage through the acquirement of schematics. Find the right parts and you can engineer extras like boomerang blades, gun turrets, doorlock bombs and mini-gun mounted robotic spider sentries. I need to mention here a nice touch on the grenades, a time bar right in the middle of the screen that lets you know just when the thing’s going to go off – very handy.

It looks like there is a hell of a lot going on in Rage. It feels like it will be as huge as Fallout 3 was, with plenty of off plot possibilities and all of it in 1st person.

As you’d expect from these guys, the weapons are monstrous and varied; different guns, different bullets, electric weapons, knives, rockets, every time they moved to another part of the game there were new weapons. And at the moment they’re not doing any limited weapon slots – find a gun, pick it up, it’s yours all day long. Oh yes, the Quake boys are back in town!

To finish off the show, id moved onto Dead City (where no one comes out alive), the place where all the mutants hang out. Not killing each other, of course, only normal people. These mutants do not look easy to deal with, I thought, and then a massive one appeared, three times the height of your character. It took a lot of work to kill it off, and as soon as he did the sound of something so big it would make you fill your knickers if you saw it for real began to rumble through the room and the demo faded to black just as this colossal humanoid rounded a corner and used the top of a 30 storey tower to steady itself. This game is going to do some damage to a lot of FPS franchises, might even knock a few spots off Gears Of War with these kind of skyscraper-sized knuckle-draggers inside.

And now for some nerdy stuff: it’s 60 hertz on all platforms. The demo we saw was on the 360 (incredible). They’re keeping completely schtum about multiplayer till next year. The game world will be “open but directed” whatever that means. There is no morality system (who asked about that!?!). There will be Easter eggs. The 360 will need two discs, the PC and PS3 versions won’t. It will not run on 1080p for the PS3, however they were so sure of the PS3 version that the first time they let any journos play it was on a PS3. Willits did say that if you want to check out how Rage looks on all three platforms you just need to google Rage at Quakecon. So far, all we’ve found is the 2009 trailer videos and some iPhone Rage action. However, have a gander at some of the E3 2010 footage and you’ll be seeing pretty much the same stuff id were showing at Eurogamer 2010. It’s well worth tracking down because Rage looks set to redraw the FPS map with a much bigger pen.

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Written by Neil

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