The opening two hours of RAGE
"The best way to get your mind around RAGE is to play it for a few hours," says id Software's creative director Tim Willits, mere moments before I'm given the chance to run around unsupervised in its campaign for two and a half hours.
The last time the game was shown, in March, was a brief run-through of five different segments of the game - a nice technical showcase of all the different facets of RAGE, perhaps, but not a splendid way to show you how the game stands as a whole.
The 15-20 hour campaign starts 106 years after asteroid 99942 Apophis collides with Earth - via a lavish CGI introduction - with your character waking up from cryogenic slumber. Step out of your Apple-esque surroundings, the pristine sleekness marred somewhat by the fact that all your fellow pod-buddies are dead and rotting, and you're immediately attacked by mutants.
I don't need to point out that RAGE looks fantastic, but your first real introduction to its wasteland comes from the passenger seat of local hero Dan Hagar's buggy, voiced by John Goodman, and he's definitely taking the scenic route. When was the last time a game opened with a good vehicle ride? It was everywhere after Half-Life did it in 1998, then it sort of fizzled out in that era where the first thing you do in a game is look up and down to set your Y-axis - though RAGE still has that, of course. I mean, it's 2011. You need that bit. It's basically the law.
It's not long before you're darting around as Hagar's super-powered errand boy, steeping yourself in the established RPG formula of accepting and undertaking various quests. Collect this, deliver that, kill all of these - RAGE definitely has all of this in abundance. Your reward for doing so? Loot, of course.
RAGE, as has been detailed before, straddles a middle-ground between shooter and RPG. Much of its post-apocalyptic world can be scavenged (there are no encumbrance limits) and put to good use. Equipment, including buffs and ammunition, can be constructed from component parts once you've obtained blueprints, and powerful secondary ammunition types, which range from explosive rounds to mind-control crossbow bolts, can be built and foraged.
You don't get to experience much of that at the start, as you're armed with little more than a pistol with some boring regular ammunition, but within a few hours you'll be packing a shotgun and an assault rifle alongside your trusty six-shooter - now loaded with super powerful FatBoy rounds.