Weapon selection is also handled with care. While your arsenal mainly consists of the genre's usual suspects, most of your guns can use alternative ammo that greatly broadens their utility. The shotgun can fire explosives, transforming it into a grenade launcher at a moment's notice, while another late-game toy (I won't spoil the fun by saying what) can take crowd-splattering BFG rounds - one of many nods to id's back catalogue. Most memorably of all, the otherwise-fiddly crossbow can be kitted out with Mind Control rounds, allowing you to assume brief control of your attackers. I say "brief", because they explode after a short interval - ideally after you've just staggered them into their mates.
These alternative ammo types can be manufactured by combining bits of junk that you find lying around, and the same trick also lets you make other tools that can lend you an edge in combat: sentry turrets, spider-like robots, and remote control cars that explode on command. Most useful of all are the Wingsticks, three-pronged boomerangs that will save your life in a pinch. Use one of these to decapitate an incoming enemy, and his headless body will dash on until it loses momentum, or crashes into a wall. The animation here really is top of the line, and genuinely adds to your murderous enjoyment. The same can be said of the constant 60FPS framerate - the kind of treat that's usually reserved for PC gamers these days.
So yes, Rage's combat is sublime. The problem is, the other aspects of the game struggle to meet its exceptional standards. This shortfall is most immediately evident in the first vehicle you drive - an ATV that feels like it's been culled from a different, far cheaper game. It's responsive enough in its controls, but the vehicle feels far too light, with virtually no sense of force when you brake into a sudden stop. The subsequent vehicles are better, but while the game attempts to cheer things up with spontaneous challenges, Rage on wheels is never as much fun as Rage on foot. There's a decent spread of weapons and defensive ploys you can buy to kit out your car, but compared to the majesty of the core shooting, it feels thin. Enemies respawn every time you leave a hub or dungeon, and you'll soon tire of the repeated circle-and-blast tactics that define car combat at every stage of the game.
If you want to tinker with your car's engine and frame, you'll need to enter one of the many race events that are available in the game's two major hubs. There's a surprisingly large selection of time trials and races with or without weapons, but again, the action rarely feels anything more than merely competent. And that's fine, to an extent: for a mini-game or momentary diversion, the racing is alright. In all honesty, however, you'll want to get back to the action as soon as possible.
Apart from the racing there's a vast selection of other diversions to try: a card-based battling game, courier missions, and even Five Finger Fillet - that knife-between-the-fingers thing Bishop does in Aliens (if your school was posh enough that you had to own a compass, you probably did this a few times in maths class). These sideshows are all executed with a good deal of care, but none - with the possible exception of the duelling banjos game in the second hub - is fun enough to play for the sake of pure enjoyment. Winning these games only ever provides you with extra cash, and since your pockets are invariably full, there's little reason to visit them.
You see, the other problem Rage has is that its RPG-esque elements don't really work. It feels like there should be a levelling system of some kind, but there isn't. A couple of hours in you'll be offered a choice of suits to wear, with each conferring some kind of small perk, but that's all it is - a one-off bonus that gives you a shopping discount, or boosts your toughness or manufacturing skills. It's the faintest trace of a class system, so slight as to be almost negligible. Ultimately, for all their detail and mini-games, Rage's hubs just feel like they're delaying you from your next slice of heavenly headshots.