An ominous clanking heralds the arrival of a heavy Gearhead thug - a muscular villain in industrial metal armour. If you've seen Iron Man, he looks a bit like Robert Downey Jr's first prototype, only without the goatee or the pervasive air of smugness. Also, this guy has a minigun and a Russian accent that could happily join the cast of 'Allo 'Allo.

Here's a dangerous chap, but here's the thing: you've just thrown a live grenade at his feet. The force of the blast causes him to stagger back, and as he rights himself he brings his head neatly into your crosshair. You're rocking a revolver packed with high calibre Fat Mamma rounds: the first shot blows his mask away, revealing a pair of furious eyes, while the second blows his head clean off. The man's body remains standing for a moment, blood spurting from the freshly-ventilated neck. And then he falls.

Right from the start, it's clear that Rage wants to impress you. The game kicks off with a glossy intro that condenses a meteorite-based apocalypse into 90 seconds of expensive CGI, effortlessly surpassing all 151 minutes of Michael Bay's 1998 crapfest, Armageddon. You assume control of the anonymous hero, and almost immediately you're treated to one of those Bethesda "step outside" moments as you leave the Ark that's been keeping you on ice for 100 years or so. After Oblivion and Fallout 3 you may feel that you've had your fill of dramatically-revealed vistas, but there's every chance you'll gawk all over again here; the overworld in Rage is more or less a single giant texture that loads as you move across it, and the end result is an open wasteland of almost breathtaking detail.

Moments after your emergence, you'll find yourself sitting in a dune buggy as you bounce across the Mad Max 2 ruins of civilisation. And the chap behind the wheel? Why it's John Goodman. Well, it's his voice at any rate; in Rage's backstory, big John probably got squished by the space rock.

In short, Rage has no qualms about flaunting its triple-A status - and it has lofty ambitions to go with its shiny shoes. With Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, id Software pioneered the modern FPS, and so naturally Rage places a heavy emphasis on bloody, head-popping gunplay. But Rage also wants to be an RPG-lite of sorts, encompassing an open world structure, vehicular combat, and side quests by the dozen.

Rage screenshot

In the former category at least, id's efforts are close to impeccable. While Rage largely restricts itself to claustrophobic internal environments, the actual battles are rarely anything less than thrilling, with foes that appear to be as smart as they are nimble. The more acrobatic opponents will climb the scenery, dive into rolls, and even wall-run in their efforts to evade your roaming aim. Successfully batter a few gun-toting bandits, and their surviving companions will retreat to join other allies. If you're the one who decides to turn and flee, they'll advance to stronger tactical positions, or else toss out grenades to blast you from afar. As far as corridor shooters go - and I say that to avoid the wrath of Halo fans - Rage boasts some of the smartest enemy AI since Half-Life 2.

When these nasties get the better of you, id finds a way to innovate. There's a recharging health mechanic in place, but if you succumb to enemy fire you'll enter a brief mini-game that lets you resuscitate yourself with a defibrillator. It feels gimmicky at first, but as time wears on you'll appreciate its role in proceedings: you feel a bit silly when you have to use it, as invariably this means you screwed up somehow, but it allows you to carry on. It's a way of punishing the player without driving them back to their last save, and while it's a powerful tool, you're limited in its use. Despite its initial appearance, it's a rather clever idea.

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Wido's Avatar

Wido

Nice read Neon.

I do want this! Curse this wretched week with Rage, Dark Souls & The Cursed Crusade which all release on the same day! Damn to hell with all my wage literally all gone on the car (MOT) & renewal of my car insurance.
Posted 22:42 on 04 October 2011
GrayFox's Avatar

GrayFox

Bloody hell you cry like a little girl about everything in this review, even having to manually save. Grow a pair of balls ffs.

Other than that, I have no issue with the score.
Posted 19:32 on 04 October 2011
p0rtalthinker's Avatar

p0rtalthinker

Interesting...I'm thinking of waiting a bit to pick this up till some of the PC bugs get fleshed out...From all the stuff I've heard about the game from the devs they made it seem bigger and longer than it seems everyone else is saying it is :-/

Oh btw great in depth review Neon!
Posted 18:20 on 04 October 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog@ scaz2244

Well, it sort of is a more action-packed version of Fallout; it just doesn't have that same sense of exploration. Or much of a plot.

If you like shooting virtual men in the head - or decapitating them with boomerangs - it's definitely worth checking out. Especially if you're bored of the "shooting gallery" style of single-player CoD. We'll have to see whether MW3 improves on that front, but for the time being this is far, far more dynamic.
Posted 13:33 on 04 October 2011
Clockpunk's Avatar

Clockpunk

Hmmm... nice review - thanks Neon - but I think Serious Sam 3 should satiate my next FPS desire more than Rage would. I have been tempted several times to preorder Rage, but at the end of the day, it all sounds a little... not-quite-anything=particularly for my tastes... unfortunately.
Posted 12:52 on 04 October 2011
pblive's Avatar

pblive

hmm. No multiplayer deathmatch mode? Not sure now.
Posted 12:42 on 04 October 2011
scaz2244's Avatar

scaz2244

was hoping for this to be the next purchase for me but i think i will wait til the drop down in price. shame the driving sucks and its pretty small. was hoping for more action version of fallout.

great read once again neon!
Posted 12:26 on 04 October 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Rage
8
Out of 10
Rage
  • Satisfying combat with genuinely smart foes
  • Looks incredible, and runs at 60 FPS
  • Pseudo RPG elements are rather weak
  • Driving feels a bit middle-of-the-road
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 07/10/2011
Platforms: Xbox 360 , PS3 , PC
Developer: id Software
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: BBFC 18
Site Rank: 1,006 77
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