The game I pre-ordered and waited an ungodly amount of time for finally arrived via my sexy mail carrier’s sweaty man-hands and nobody was more excited than I (probably because I was the only one home). After playing through a few quests, here are my first impressions.
Firstly, this game has three discs. I haven’t had to handle more than one since Mass Effect 2, and before that, Diablo 2. I’m impressed. RAGE starts off rather outer-spacey, explaining that I’m the product of cryogenic stasis, but something obviously went wrong because a big, angry meteor crashed on what appears to be my planet and now everything sucks for everyone. Upon waking up and exiting the ship, you’re thrust into action. Armor and weaponless, I was immediately attacked by ugly, pale men who were just as quickly shot in the head by someone named Dan Hagar. That’s how you meet your first main NPC. He runs a small restaurant deal in an area known as “Hagar Territory”. Also, he’s voiced by John Goodman, which in my books gives the entire game an A grade, because I would pay to listen to him read a bedtime story to me every night.
Now, there’s no core character customization (you’re stuck with a white guy and a crew cut), but the game more than makes up for it with special ammunition types and special armor, etc. You get introduced to two types of vehicles quickly; you ride into “town” in a dune buggy and get to your first mission via ATV. This, to me, is awesome. I rarely see four-wheelers in games that aren’t specifically about four-wheelers, making it a welcome addition. The scenery and graphics look great, it has a Borderlands style cartoon feel, only slightly more gritty and realistic. You can operate the in-game camera without altering your direction in-vehicle which is nice, and areas where you can’t drive are clearly marked by big fat rocks all up in your grill. These are all things I took in on my way to my first ethnic cleansing, or as the game would call it, “quelling the bandit threat”.
The first of two asshole enemies you run into flies away in a hot air balloon (which pissed me off, because if he’s not using a hot air balloon to land on people then he’s not using it properly), leaving the other one running towards me flipping and spinning. The enemies are extremely acrobatic and agile, and they’ll dodge your bullets if they can. They move quickly and throw kicks so be prepared to have bad guys up in your shit often. You get two guns off the bat, and if you’re like me and got the Anarchy edition, crazy spike fists as well, making combat well-rounded from the start. All around you there are rags, money, and other salvage that can be picked up and sold back in John Goodman town. The controls are easy to get a hold of, switching weapons is great because once you run out of ammunition, the game skips over that gun. This means you don’t have to cycle through 3 empty weapons to get to the one you want. Crouched movement allowed me to sneak up on enemies if I felt like it, and the ragdoll physics upon death are hilarious. One guy I shot bent over onto his head and bounced like it was a basketball.
I’m devoting a short section to the defibrillator. It seems that “Ark survivors” (me) have things called Nanotrites or something like that implanted in them, so when they die, these little buddies have the opportunity to bring your ass right back to life. In order to do this, we enter a defibrillator minigame, wherein you better be ambidextrous because you have to point both analog sticks in different directions several times, then press left/right trigger. After all that, a bar pops up, and you must press left/right trigger once again when the moving meter gets close to the right area. This requires skill and quick thinking, and to be honest, was fun. However, if you suck a lot, and you find yourself dying regularly, this part has great potential to get old and painful. My advice is, if you want to keep the defib’ entertaining, shoot the stuff before it shoots you.
To sum all this up, this game so far is well worth the months of waiting for its release (including the month I waited for my damn pre-order…you know who you are). If you liked Borderlands, Fallout, or Red Faction, get out your wallet because you’re going to love RAGE. I know I do. Plus, after the first mission, the world explodes and everyone needs help. There’s an old woman with a robot arm, too.