Rage HD [rating: 4/5]
Rage, due out from id at some point next year as a premium console and PC title, is a game I am very much looking forward to. That and Portal 2. Rage and Rage HD for iPhone 4 and iPad are the first of perhaps a couple of Rage teaser games that id Software plan to put out on iOS in the lead up to the main Rage release next year. I say next year as Rage was due out in 2010, and has slipped a few times. But next year does seem likely now.
At QuakeCon 2010 in August of this year, John Carmack of id Software demoed an early version of what he promised would be a slice of the Rage world on iOS. And at that time we all “ooh-d” and “ahh-d” at the wonderful graphics and the promise of this game. The demo we saw really looked like a current generation game in many ways. Which was incredible to see on a phone!
There is quite a lot of technological promise in the Rage engine that Carmack has produced for iOS, and I will be looking at that in another article this week.
With Epic Citadel based Infinity Blade coming from Unreal, and now Rage from id we have two heavyweight publishers, with industry topping AAA engines vying for a more serious gaming niche on mobile platforms. Their first beach heads in their entry to this marketplace are the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone – and your hearts and minds.
id have already made some furtive inroads into the mobile market with ports of their earlier iconic titles for the iPhone and iPod Touch ; Doom, Wolfenstein etc. But Rage is a big departure from porting games from the 80’s / 90’s. It’s new, and very current IP.
Rage HD is a much bigger download, and this is simply because it has “HD” graphics suitable for the iPhone 4, latest iPod Touch and iPad. But both versions play on all platforms, and offer the same gameplay.
“Rage [HD] Mutant Bash TV”, the full title of the iOS title, is based around a morbid game show with its conceptual roots in movies like “Running Man” and “Game”, where you play the part of the unwitting character who is thrown into a combat zone and has to fight your way through from level to level, presumably ultimately to obtain freedom, reward or notoriety. Or face death…
The look and feel of Rage from the moment you boot it up is polished. And the soundtrack and intro videos exude quality. All of these are pre-rendered cut scenes though, so they should look good. But it all gels well from cut-scene to menu atmosphere, to live action in this game.
There are copious instructions and control settings options in the menu area of Rage. So you can read up, and soak in the atmosphere of the sample of the Rage universe we have been given. Or, alternatively, throw caution to the wind and just get going and start killing stuff!
Once you launch into the first level of the game you are from them on in effectively on rails, rather like being in a slow to mid-speed roller-coaster. As you travel along these rails through derelict buildings, and crumbling insane asylums you can look around and about yourself to aim at targets, booty (cash and ammo) and of course mutants. You can also dodge attacks with an on screen button, or speed up your movement along the fixed path the game takes.
Your field of view is limited to a cone directly in-front of you, which allows you to pan left, right, up and down by about 30 degrees. The accelerometer and gyroscope are used to good effect for that. And you do get to look further up, down and behind you at times as the game will spin your viewpoint around to meet mutants sneaking up behind you, or jumping from the roof. If you’re looking for a dungeon crawler where you DON’T have to look over your shoulder then this is one for you. But that is not to say it won’t still make you jump a few times, especially if you have headphones on and are alone in a dark room!
Rage overall is your usual id fare… Mutants are insanely aggressive, guns shots are loud, there are blood and guts everywhere. It’s a hoot!
Pacing is fast, and fun, and once immersed you forget you are on rails and get into dealing mayhem out. Occasionally you might find a few seconds to sweep the scene in-front of you and grab some cash by aiming at it and tapping when your reticule changes to indicate there is something to pick up. You soon get used to spotting them as you need the ammo particularly to simply survive!
If you are feeling really cheeky you might try to take out a few bullseye targets scattered around most rooms, before inevitably you are inundated with mutants again, which pop up from holes in the floor, cracks in the walls or drop down from above.
There are different types of mutants, some slow and stupid, some fast, some that climb, others that stay out of range, hide and/or lob things at you. But they are all aggressive, and all deadly. Most of the skill in that part of the game is learning to head-shot and prioritise which of the several attacking mutants to take out first.
In Rage all of the rooms you pass through are exquisitely textured and lit. As are the things in them, like the mutants! It really is a feast for your eyes it has to be said. And looks fantastic on a Retina display.
As you progress through the levels you go down stairs, drop through holes in the floor, explore cells in insane asylums, and run down corridors. But all the time you are simply being taken through a shooting gallery.
You have other on screen controls which allow you to get “Gears of War” like rewards for reloading your weapon to the right rhythm, which then yields faster more powerful shots briefly. You can also change weapons between a hand gun, automatic rifle or shot gun. Each is employed best in different types of scenarios. But I found the machine gun my favourite. You do need to make sure to grab plenty of ammo as you go along also, as you run out quick, and then get kicked back to the hand gun as a back up until you can load up with a different flavour of bullets again.
For 99 cents, or even $1.99 it doesn’t get much better than this for people on iOS who like shooting and blood and guts! There is plenty of gameplay there for quite a few replays. And each of the three levels are plenty long enough to keep your interest a few times over too. On top of that your first play through you are going to miss a lot, so you simply have to play through again to see if you can get a few more perfect re-loads, or grab more cash and ammo. Or not die three or four times a level! And of course there are literally hundreds of pesky little bullseye targets that you will still miss on your fourth of fifth play through!
When you do ultimately die you are given the option to restart from various save points within each level. So getting killed half way through a level is not the end of the world.
Somewhere though, perhaps at the back of my reptilian gamer mind, I am still sorely disappointed that this whole Rage game is just a facade that we are skilfully whisked through on a set path. What I was really hoping for, and fervently hope we will see in the next iOS Rage release, is a proper FPS dungeon crawling experience… with mutants to shoot… and path decisions to take, and place to explore for ourselves!
It is very hard for me to give this app an overall rating. It is certainly a game that you should buy for your iDevice if you like this sort of game. Absolutely. But Rage itself actually has less real intelligent gameplay in it than some of Carmack’s earlier ports of Doom or Wolfenstein 3D.
Rage in essence really only offers the same level and style of gameplay as ngmoco’s “Eliminate Gun Range”, except that your shooting gallery is a stream of eye-candy flowing past you and there is considerably more gore. Of the two Rage wins hands down, of course. And is a must have duck-shoot game for the iPhone. But therein lies the problem. When you strip away all the hype, Rage on iOS is just a shooting gallery game. At least in this first taster.
So in that sense I get too much of a feeling overall that Rage is a piece of marketing for the Rage franchise as a whole. And I am disappointed that I didn’t get to have a true FPS experience in a mobile Rage sandbox like I was expecting.
John Carmack has hinted at another iPhone Rage game in the not too near future. And as I have said already I hope that he decides to expand the gameplay scope in any future offering. I totally understand the rationale that has gone into producing what is in effect a casual shooter for people who play games on mobiles – a very different breed than your sofa camping, bullet spitting, PC or console FPS twitcher.
But what id does really well is push the boundaries. Producing a game that is just as limited in scope as all the other mobile game companies is a bit of a disappointment. I expected them to take the bit between the teeth and bring us a small taste of a larger FPS.
Rage is great fun. Really great fun! I heartily recommend it. You must buy it. But know that you are basically playing a shooting gallery game, albeit with great production values, awesome sound, and gorgeous graphics. But this is not a fully immersive game. Nor is it the groundbreaking FPS teaser that I was expecting for iOS. Rather it is light entertainment gore.
- Gorgeous graphics.
- Great gameplay.
- Price and replay value.
- It’s on rails!
$1.99 (View in iTunes)
Released: Nov 18, 2010
1.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
Seller: id Software
© 2010 id Software LLC, a ZeniMax Media company. ZeniMax, Bethesda Softworks and related logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of ZeniMax Media Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. RAGE, id, id Software, id Tech, and related logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of id Software LLC in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Rated 12+ for the following:
Frequent/Intense Horror/Fear Themes
Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Frequent/Intense Realistic Violence
Requirements:Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1 or later