PAX impressions / Rage

The Serpent Theater at PAX was absolutely packed to the gills this afternoon for only the second ever public demonstration of id Software’s Rage. Game director Tim Willits served as the narrator while design director Matt Hooper was at the helm, and both seemed genuinely excited to demo the game to someone other than members of the press. While it wasn’t playable, it was clearly obvious after the demonstration why the team seemed so stoked to show off their game.

The first thing that stuck out was how polished the game looked. The Xbox 360 version was the one being shown, and it was a rock solid 60 frames per second at all times throughout the demonstration. Furthermore, there didn’t seem to be any noticeable bugs. The menus looked fully fleshed out, there wasn’t any pop-in, and nothing glitched out or fell through the environment. The core game screamed ‘retail ready’, which is pretty amazing when you consider that the game isn’t coming out for another year.

The demo opened up near the outskirts of Wellspring, one of the two main towns in the game. After a few small encounters, the audience was shown a short vehicle segment where Hooper took the reigns of a fully loaded deathmobile complete with machine gun turrets and missile launchers, which looked incredibly satisfying to use. He was whipping around corners with ease until he arrived at Wellspring.

Willits continued to stress how varied everything is. The team at id has been busy making sure every part of the game is unique, and the town was full of stuff to do. Check out the local gossip at the bar, gamble away your money, and entering the local racing circuit were all options. The NPCs took note of the player’s appearance, as the outfit the main character was wearing raised a few eyebrows.

After the tour, it was time to head into the sewers to start the shooting part. id specializes in close quarters combat, and their specialty was in full display here. The gunplay looked highly impactful, and Rage gives you the ability to collect parts to make a multitude of helpful creations, such as a RC car bomb and a walking turret like the helpful little guys from Doom 3.

After digging through sewers and gang hideouts, the demo ended in the town of Dead City, which is a highly apt description. Dead City is a completely demolished major metropolis, and it really showed off how good the game is capable of looking. The presentation ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, as Hooper was about to fight a 100 foot tall behemoth, but even with the tease, the audience was highly receptive and erupted in cheers at the end.

Rage continually impressed throughout the entire presentation. It’s clear that the guys at id have worked very hard at creating a huge, lively world with a lot to do and see. It’s still a year away, but Rage looks ready to ship right now, and id promised that it’s only going to get better by the time the game launches next September.