Rage, eh? Funny title, if you ask me. Sure, it sticks to the established id Software naming formula, adopting a lone one-syllable word loaded with portentous meaning. "Doom" basically implies "you're screwed!", and the "oo" bit gives it a deep sound that implies weight. "Quake" suggests something that shakes the very ground we walk on, a massive event that tears open the genre we know. As for "Wolfenstein 3D"... well, I guess that's just an exception to the rule. Germans aren't very big on one-syllable words, after all.
So, why "Rage"? I don't know just yet. It could be because the game features a lot of pissed-off people – Mad Max bandits, mutants, tribal thugs with painted faces – who need to be permanently pacified with guns, grenades, and killer bladed boomerangs. Then again, maybe it'll refer to the reaction of PC owners when they see the system requirements for playing the actual thing. I'm teasing, of course; we don't have concrete details, but id Software has repeatedly said that it's working hard to make the game work as efficiently as possible on all its supported platforms. The thing is, when you actually see Rage running, it's hard to shake the idea that it must be doing so on some kind of gaming superbeast. The contrary reality is quite surprising, especially when you realise that you're watching a console version.
If you've read either of our previous previews (this one or this one), you'll know that Rage is one serious good-looking slice of first-person shooter pie. You may well be sick to death of hearing this, but I'm afraid you need to hear it again: Rage is gorgeous. The Xbox 360 build previewed at E3 was running a silky 60 frames-per-second at all times, and quite frankly it was one of the best-looking games of the whole show. This is one of those ventures where it's almost impossible to avoid excessive discussion of minutiae, where you start obsessing about things like the cracks in the digital pavement, or the perfectly-simulated damp patches on the sewer walls. I can't promise to entirely avoid obsessing over such details, but I'll do my best - because Rage is really a game about making stuff go boom, albeit in beautiful fashion.
Much of Rage's appearance at E3 was made up of scenes and moments that were shown off at Bethesda's showcase event, earlier in the year: A quick vehicle-to-vehicle battle in the post-apocalyptic desert, ending with pieces of flaming debris bouncing over the sandy plains. A fleeting saunter around the cowboy-sci-fi town of Wellspring, a place of dust and fluorescent signs under desert sun, where the locals skulk down at the side of the road to bet on Star Wars-style hologram fights. Then, after a quick chat with an NPC at the town pumphouse, a lengthy underground battle with the Ghost Clan - ninja-like enemies who climb onto nearby scenery and then leap straight at the player. Once again, we were shown the toys that you'll use to take down this opposition: remote control cars packed with explosives; crossbows that can fire electrified bolts into pools of water, frying nearby enemies; a rattling assault rifle - one that sends foes stumbling off balance as each individual bullet connects, causing a visible physical reaction.