We take back our early fears about the AI. Rage isn't meant to be scary like Doom 3 was, but we were utterly terrified when we first stepped into a bandit stronghold and saw a sword-wielding skinhead charge at us.
Well, 'charge' is the wrong word. It was more like a glide: the freak swung from poles, bounded off walls and rolled along the ground like a gibbon as it closed the gap, and our puny pistol barely slowed it down before it reached us. A mixture of back-pedalling, rapid firing and emergency gun-butt-clubbing saw us survive. Just.
To say we felt braver when we were stomping around with a giant shotgun 20 minutes later is an understatement, but even then RAGE's enemies were often smart enough and devious enough to out-think and out-manoeuvre us.
RAGE is an all new beast for id Software. As the first major title from the company since 2004's Doom 3 - and the showpiece for their new (-ish) engine id Tech 5 - it's surprisingly different from the company's previous Doom/Quake/Wolfenstein rap sheet.
Different in a good way, though: if anybody has illusions that this will be a musty throwback to the days when id plonked a few monsters in a linear corridor and let you unload a ton of weapons in retaliation, ten minutes of RAGE will correct those misconceptions.
Id doesn't welcome comparisons with Borderlands, yet they're unavoidable and favourable. Both games take place in post-apocalyptic worlds, both involve hefty amounts of shooting and driving, and both force you to scour the landscape and meet new people who give you quests for rewards.
Although RAGE has a more realistic look and less emphasis on looting, we can't honestly say they're poles apart. RAGE's shooting edges Borderland's - which is what you'd expect when weighing up a core 'shooter' against an RPG - and that's about it.
Traditionally vehicles and shooters haven't always mixed well, so it's jarring to see id Software, of all teams, crowbar racing and car combat into their game. Thankfully the buggy sections fit nicely into the world, and if you'd rather not spend your time gunning for chequered flags you need only endure a grand total of two races from start to finish.
Out in the badlands you'll need to rely on buggies to move from town to town and to either outrun or outgun bandits. They're heavy things and slide nicely into turns, so while we expected these moments to be RAGE's downfall they actually kept us entertained throughout our preview session. If they take your fancy too then everything from the suspension to the engine to the tires can be upgraded if you try your hand at some speedway competitions.
Guns can be upgraded too and good deeds are paid with schematics that can then be used to craft extra items out of bits and bobs of junk. Combine these with your weapons and you'll have more powerful attacks.
It's hard not to be impressed with RAGE. The world's many characters are all impressively detailed and bursting with things to say and in the first three hours at least there's a ton of content to get stuck into.
If RAGE's opening is a fair representation of the whole game, id have got another shooting classic on their hands.
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