When you're at the forefront of an emerging trend, you're bound to have imitators. Such is the case with Fallout, a series that's been wandering wastelands and mutilating mutants since long before videogaming came down with an incurable case of post-apocalypse fever. Imitation's a sticky subject, though. Sometimes, it's just a sh**-eating grin away from outright flattery, but other times, it's a lawsuit and a career-in-tatters away from bold-faced plagiarism.
So, the question arises: where, exactly, does RAGE stand? Well, we saw the game in action at QuakeCon, and we decided to run a little DNA test on the post-apocalyptic shooter in order to find out how it stacks up against its closest living – and also Bethesda-published – relative. So, without further ado, let's see what makes RAGE tick.
Read the whole thing after the break!
Fallout By Any Other Name...
1. The Wasteland – Let's start with the obvious one. RAGE's wasteland looks awfully similar to Fallout 3's, er, Wasteland. You know the drill: Every shade of brown and gray imaginable. Open stretches of rocks, dirt, and the occasional, extremely lonely tree. Towering skyscrapers so dilapidated and decrepit that even the pieces of gum and shoestring holding them together are being held together by pieces of gum and shoestring. Which isn't to say that it looks bad; actually, RAGE is one of the most technically attractive games we've ever seen. Just don't be surprised if you get hit with some serious deja vu while you're playing. 2. The Enemy Lineup – Stop us if you've heard this one before: a shady organization with an ominous name attempts to reconstruct a crumbling world in its own image. Fallout's Enclave? Nope. RAGE's “Authority.” But how about the other unfriendly locals you'll be squaring off against in id's vision of the future? Well, there are bandits and mutants and... that's all we've seen so far. But hey, look on the bright side: no rad roaches. Well, so far anyway.
3. The Big Bang – RAGE's world has seen better days. But why? Well, it's like this, see: the planet's surface – once vibrant and teeming with life – was sent back to the retro-future-steampunk stone age by a gigantic bomb meteor. But everything's more or less peachy, because humanity was smart enough to construct a number of underground Vaults Arks, which kept our brittle, extremely explodable species from going the way of the Dodo. Flash forward an unspecified number of years, and your character emerges from his Vault Ark and is forced to fend for himself in a world that's merely a shadow of the one he once knew.
4. The PC – Now here's one we have no problem with. During the QuakeCon demo, RAGE ran simultaneously on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Generally, such a competition would be roughly equivalent to throwing two kittens in a cage with a particularly angry T-Rex, and this face-off ended about as you'd expect. Loading times? Please. On PC, those are about as extinct as the rare Kitten-Fighting T-Rex. Xbox 360, meanwhile, took a few seconds longer than PC's nearly non-existent load times, and the PS3's probably still loading right now. 5. The Publisher – This one's not actually as a big a deal as people are making it out to be. At least, we don't think so. Yeah, Bethesda's got two post-apocalyptic series – Fallout and RAGE -- under one roof, but guess who else plays home to two similar franchises: everyone. EA's got Medal of Honor and Battlefield: Bad Company. Capcom's got Resident Evil and Dead Rising. SOE has Everquest, Everquest 2,and Vanguard. EA (again) has Burnout and Need for Speed. Point is, the devil's in the details, and that's where RAGE – like many of the above examples – stands to thrive.
War... War Occasionally Changes
1. The Guns – When your arsenal includes a mini-nuke launcher, it's tough to accuse your game of shooter law's greatest, yet most frequently committed crime: creative bankruptcy. Fallout's never been at a lack for weird and wacky weapons, but let's not forget who we're talking about here. After all, id Software invented the BFG. You want big guns that leave behind even bigger body counts? Then you've come to the right place. During the QuakeCon demo, we witnessed a tiny R/C truck that explodes whenever it comes in contact with enemies, an automated turret that can hold its ground against waves of bandits, and a spider robot drone that's as deadly as it is strangely adorable.
2. The Artificial Intelligence – RAGE's enemies may look kind of like Fallout's, but they certainly don't think like them. Gun-toting bandits coordinate tactics, take cover, and even draw on a big bag of tricks that includes the aforementioned exploding R/C trucks. Melee fighters, meanwhile, bob and weave with so much speed that you'll feel like you're the one who got gypped when your enemy decided to bring a knife to a gunfight. And then there are mutants, which come in all shapes and sizes, so you never really know what to expect.
3. The Cars – If you're gonna draw inspiration from Mad Max, at least do it right. Fallout 2's Highwayman is great and all, but the post-apocalypse is supposed to be a car junkie's dream. Thankfully, where Fallout struck out, RAGE knocks it out of the park. Though we only saw a little vehicular combat, it looked fast and intense – much like Sony's Twisted Metal franchise, only without a masochistic clown for a mascot. And that's fine with us. The fewer characters around to remind us that the Insane Clown Posse exist, the better.
4. The Underground Sections – Aside from our constant obsession with what the underside of a Diglett looks like, we've never really cared much for what goes on below good ol' terra firma. But as it turns out, that's where id's buried its roots. Tightly scripted corridor shooting ala Doom? Hell yes. Just run through an underground section for a modern day trek through the Doom and Quake creator's past – no duct-tape required.
5. The Other Guys – As we already mentioned, RAGE takes a number of cues from old-school id shooters – in addition to, of course, Fallout and other post-apocalyptic games. But we saw plenty of other ingredients floating around in id's latest stew as well. The game's story will apparently minimize the use of cut-scenes, instead opting to convey its narrative completely in first-person, ala Half-Life 2. And then there's the ability to electrocute enemies while they're ankle-deep in water – just chilling out – which made sense in the leaky confines of BioShock, but seems a bit out-of-place here. Unless we get to tour a post-apocalyptic water park, which would pretty much force us to buy the game right here and now.