At gamescom 2009 I stood in a queue for what seemed like half a day to see id Software's Rage. This was a queue behind closed doors at EA, for press only. I didn't queue for anything at gamescom apart from Rage, yet for Rage it seemed almost expected. This isn't just another FPS sequel. Rage is the first new IP from Doom creator id Software in 10 years. It's coming to Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and is being published by industry juggernaut EA. It's also the first game to make use of id's stunning new id Technology 5 engine. In reality I'd only stood in that queue for 40 minutes, but given the pedigree I'd have waited far longer.
Our demo begins with the bold statement that the game engine can push game worlds in ways that couldn't be done before. From anyone else I might have laughed, or at least sniggered under my breath, but this is id. Our character is stood in the wasteland, some two hours into the game. There's a hut to his right and a huge draw distance stretching off as far as the eye can see. There's no doubt about it. Rage looks stunning and this is a game that's still months and months from release. We've got to head to the local town of Wellspring, but there's time to take in a few of the sights first.
That hut I mentioned is home to Crazy Joe, an NPC character that really demonstrates how impressive the character rendering is in Rage. He's one of the most animated virtual characters I've ever seen, easily rivalling and in many cases bettering what we've seen in the most high profile games of this generation. After a brief chat with Joe our id rep wandered around the area and caught a glimpse of the toxic looking green water that had settled in a small pond - this is apparently something to do with the mutants, but we weren't told what.
It was time to take a look at a few of the weapons next, with an enemy on a cliff edge up ahead being a prime target. Our character took out his Wind Stick, which is actually a deadly boomerang. Within a few seconds the stick had taken out the unsuspecting enemy and returned to our guy's hand - silent, but deadly. You'll obviously have other weapons too, with our rep running through the pistol and crossbow. Different ammo types will be purchasable from the many stores in the game, although exactly what they are hasn't been revealed.
A buggy had been sat on the road below Joe's hut since the demo began, teasing us with its presence. It's more than a buggy really, looking like a cross between a sports car and a go kart, with extra reinforcement for off-road driving. According to id the goal was to make vehicle controls make sense for FPS fans. Having had to sit and watch the demo rather than get hands on it's hard to say how this has been achieved, but that buggy sure looked fun to drive.
While we're sure the game engine could handle a realistic sim driving model, the buggy was flying about in a true arcade fashion, which is what we'd expect from an action packed shooter from id. Our entire demo was more or less a taster rather than a full on look at the game (despite lasting about 30 minutes), but we did get to see the circular display that surrounds your vehicle, highlighting the location of other vehicles in relation to your position and the amount of nitrous you have left in the tank.