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Rage HD: Review

November 20 2010


Rage HD: Review
by Buddha

This week, id Software, courtesy of John Carmack, released Rage on iOS devices.  This isn’t the full-blown version which we’ll be seeing on PC and consoles next year, but rather a mobile taste.  iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPad owners can get the Rage HD version at $1.99, while a lower resolution version is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch for 99 cents.

I picked up Rage HD to test on my iPad.  I’d seen the impressive demonstration earlier and was very curious as to whether the game would handle as well on the iPad, versus the more powerful iPhone 4.  I’m quite happy to report that gameplay was near flawless most of the time.  There were only a couple moments of lag, and they were quite brief.  That said, I hadn’t restarted the iPad for a couple days, so that could also have something to do with it.  I don’t hold those few moments against the game, for the simple reason that they were so few and far between.

The graphics, as expected, are absolutely amazing.  I’ve read some reviewers saying they felt these are the best on the iPad at the moment, and I’d be inclined to agree were it not for Epic Citadel.  Now, before anyone throws a hissy fit, I know that Epic Citadel is not a game, but rather a proof of concept for the Unreal Engine.  That said, when discussing graphics, and not taking into consideration gameplay, it is very difficult to choose a definite winner.  Epic Citadel’s use of environmental effects such as sunlight and breeze are absolutely incredible, however Rage HD has similar effects, with light being cast into rooms.  The level of detail and depth in Rage certainly is noteworthy.

“It is great for me to see a lot of people saying this looks better than anything on my Wii and a quarter of the games on my 360, which is about how I would rank the power levels there. You should be able to do something that’s better on an iPad than anything that’s done on the Wii. A 360 or PS3 does have several times integral-multiple more power but there’s certainly some games where developers don’t take much advantage of it. We’re nowhere close to maxing out what could be done on an iPad.”

-John Carmack

That said though, Rage’s environment does not feel as alive.  Part of that is due to the manner in which you progress through the levels.  As opposed to the upcoming PC and console versions of the game, the iOS version is intended only as a taste.  So, in order to limit file size and make the best use of limited controls, id decided on an on-rails mechanic that limits your movement entirely.  The game carries you through the levels and makes you feel as though you’re being taken through a house of terror amusement park ride.  You’ve very, very limited control, in terms of aiming, and as said, absolutely no control in movement.

This type of gameplay isn’t for everyone.  Let’s be very, very honest here.  At times, you will feel as though you are playing with a straight-jacket on.  Perhaps it wouldn’t be as bad if you had more control over your aiming, regardless of the rails system.  However due to the limited movement in terms of aiming, it really does feel constrictive.

The way that I was better able to enjoy it was simply to think of it as an amusement park ride.  In much the same way, when using the guns at those rides, you’ve very limited range in order to hit targets (depending on the game, of course… but you get what I’m trying to say here), so to does Rage.

This way of playing also fits in with the theme of the game.  The full name of the game is Rage: Mutant Bash TV.  As has become popular, post-apocalyptic worlds tend to favor TV shows which depict Running Man scenarios.  In this case, you have to kill mutants which are housed in three areas, which make up the paltry three levels of the game.  There is the Asylum, the Bunker and the Tenements.  They are all very similar, so don’t get your hopes up that you’ll get a lot of variety.

The graphics are, as stated early, damn slick.  The game is gorgeous, no doubt about it.  I just wish there was more to it.  Carmack stated that the reason the game is so limited, in terms of the controls especially, is because they wanted to keep the file size down.  He realized real fast that this does not matter to iPad and iPhone 4 owners.

It’s cool that it’s on [iOS devices]. It’s good enough to enjoy and have fun. But clearly you’re a step down from analog sticks, which is a step down down from mouse-keyboard interface. And it just makes me think that may not be the best style of game on these platforms.

My guess is it would double the size of the download to be able to free-roam around these levels.

- John Carmack

I think we can all agree that we’d have gladly downloaded a version that was twice the size, had it included full control.  I’ll go you one further and add that we’d have also paid more for such a version.

Still, as an introduction to Rage, as well as an indication of the quality which we can now expect from id Software in terms of iOS games, Rage sets itself apart from the rest as a stunning, albeit limited, game.  You’ll get through all three levels within an hour, easily, unless you choose to crank up the difficulty.  Let me add my 2 cents here and warn you that those hard and nightmare levels are in fact, quite challenging. That said, the game gives you spawning points based on how far you’ve gotten.

At a buck or two, depending on the version your device can handle, Rage is definitely worth a purchase.  My son and I have been playing steadily, trying to see who can get the best score on each level at various degrees of difficulty.  In a week, I won’t care about the game anymore and likely won’t play anymore.  But for right now, I’m having a blast and don’t regret the two dollar purchase one bit.

Screenshots

rage-hd-001 rage-hd-002 rage-hd-003 rage-hd-004 rage-hd-005 rage-hd-006 rage-hd-007 rage-hd-008 rage-hd-009 rage-hd-010 rage-hd-011 rage-hd-012 rage-hd-013 rage-hd-014 rage-hd-015 rage-hd-016 rage-hd-017 rage-hd-018 rage-hd-019 rage-hd-020 rage-hd-021 rage-hd-022 rage-hd-023 rage-hd-024 rage-hd-027 rage-hd-028 rage-hd-030 rage-hd-031 rage-hd-032 rage-hd-033 rage-hd-034 rage-hd-035 rage-hd-036 rage-hd-037 rage-hd-038 rage-hd-039 rage-hd-040 rage-hd-041 rage-hd-042 rage-hd-043 rage-hd-044 rage-hd-045 rage-hd-046

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