Skyrim is around the corner. And by around the corner I mean three weeks ago. So really around several corners. And I can hardly wait, as summarized below:
Also, I have a preview for the game up at Hooked Gamers, pieced together with everything I could find on the tile around the interwebz. Take a look!
Inspired by Klepsacovic, I just realized something.
Q: What do Adam Jensen of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions and Rogues from World of Warcraft have in common?
A: They are both sneaky.
They stick to shadows.
They use hit and run tactics.
They put out an incredible amount of damage in short bursts.
And they both get stuck with boss fights where the only way to fight is out in the open, and none of their penchant for sneaky antics gets leveraged in any way!
1. Superb Stability
My copy of Rage has had zero issues on my PC. It ran the first time I launched it, it never stuttered, never showed any graphical glitches or screen-tearing, it never crashed. It works like a charm. I know “this game installs and runs” shouldn’t technically be a reason for loving the title, but given the sheer amount of rage over Rage (I had to – sue me) in the Steam forums, I am very grateful for the utter lack of technical difficulties with the title.
2. Breathtakingly Beautiful
Carmack has done it again. The game world is absolutely, incredibly, undeniably gorgeous. From the smallest rocks to the largest cliffs, and from the tiniest settlements to the massive towns, Rage is a beautiful, gorgeous game. Stepping out of the Ark for the first time, I spent the first five minutes just spinning the camera around, looking at the beauty of the world that surrounded me. The shafts of lights from a sun, half-obscured by billowing photo-realistic clouds, water that shimmered and rippled and textures that jumped at you with the sheer amount of detail contained within.
3. Destructive Driving featuring Various Vehicles
Unlike other games that make you work for it, Rage gives you a vehicle pretty much from the very beginning. You can continue to get newer, better, more specialized vehicles, as the game goes on, but you can drive at the very start. You don’t get a shoddy starter vehicle either, this little quad can book it, and it can get you where you need to go because there are significant travel distances between points of interest on the map.
And then there are the races. There are a variety of tracks where you can race your various vehicles in modes ranging from simple racing, to an all-out war zone with machine guns, rocket launchers and road spikes. The racing mythology is well-embedded into the gaming world, and winning several races gets you some recognition with NPCs randomly stopping to admire your success and praise your driving skills. Yet the driving part of Rage feels a little disjointed, as if it was a separate game that was incorporated into the larger game world, and the developer was clever enough to hide the areas where the overlap was soldered together.
4. Walloping Weapons
The weapons in Rage, all the way from the starting Settler Pistol, are meaty and pack a wallop. These are id Software weapons. They are highly detailed, they feel solid and chunky in your hands, and they shoot some serious ordnance. If the several weapons were not enough, each weapon also fires several types of ammunition, like the Fatboys that double the standard round damage for a pistol, or the Fat Mammas, which proclaim that if these don’t kill your target, you better hightail it out of there! Every weapon in rage feels just right. They have an authoritative presence, and it’s satisfying to see them do their dirty work. Add grenades and the much-touted (and rightly so) Wingstick, and you are a one-man mutant-slaughtering bandit-bashing army.
5. Ostensibly Sensible Objectives
Did you ever have to gather 100 pigeons in Grand Theft Auto? What about 100 feathers in Assassin’s Creed? Better yet, have you tried the World of Warcraft achievements? There are several collectible items and objectives peppered through the game world of Rage. However, they aren’t as arbitrary as 100 of who-gives-a-shit. One is 3 field goals. There are field goals, and you have to drive your vehicle hard enough into something to fling yourself from it far enough to fly through said field goal. It sounds like a fluff objective, and it is, but it is fun, and there are only three of them. There are also 18 jumps in the game. Not 100. not 54. Just 18, and hitting each jump doesn’t simply add a +1 counter to your number of jumps, it rewards you with items for each individual jump, if successfully completed.
But perhaps the best of these collectibles are the Rage Collectible cards. Within enemy stronghold, settlements and the open game world, there are a total of 54 game cards for you to find. These aren’t just tokens, but effectively a tabletop game, where your cards have health and damage numbers, and you try to beat opponents to cash out a hefty chunk of change.
This is the kind of obsessive compulsive game completion objective that I can get behind. Objectives that are fun to achieve, and give rewards if you complete, instead of a flat percentage towards your percentage completed score.
The characters in Rage are well fleshed out. The animations look life-like and the voice-acting is absolutely top-notch. Largely, they still suffer from the MMO-esque NPC syndrome: they are only there to dispense missions and collect rewards, but somehow it still works. People can be seen walking about towns, bandits freely roam the desert in deadly vehicles, and there is a natural buzz to life, despite ultimately plastic characterization of their humanity.
7. Raging Rollercoaster
Rage isn’t a sand box by any stretch of the imagination. Sure the game world is huge, and once you get a set of missions, you can choose to complete them in whichever order you see fit, but at the end of the day, the entire game is a linear experience of getting from point A to point Z, hitting B, C, D etc. on the way. And as much as I love open worlds, this is actually a beautifully thing. Rage is a tightly controlled experience. Intense firefights in claustrophobic close quarters, vicious dune buggy races across torn tarmacs, linear gameplay in a (largely) linear world. Rage is the ultimate roller-coaster. Once you get on, you don’t want to get off.
I can’t give away the ending, obviously. Nor can i divulge details on what your ultimate objective is. But I will say this: there will come a point when you will realize you are not the hero of this story. You are simply a small cog in a much larger machine, and you are to do your part the best way you can. This is ultimately what really set Rage apart for me, the realization that no matter how powerful I got or how many enemies I can kill by simply flexing my biceps, I am ultimately insignificant, a mere speck in the unending evolution (and devolution) of the human condition.
Syp thinks we are the real villains of MMOs.
We have no qualms against torturing, assassinating, stealing or even committing genocide if our superiors structure it as a “quest objective.” We have no options for diplomacy and no recourse but to end all life in our wake. We do all of this and move on without a second thought as to the carnage and emotional wreckage we leave behind. We build our success on mountains of corpses and call ourselves “heroes.”
Oh my god. I am a horrible, horrible person! Talk about mid-life MMO existential crisis!
You know that moment, when you get up from your PC, and cheer out loud, because you accomplished something so insanely unachievable, you can’t believe you did it yourself? That is what happened to me in my first Dominion match in League of Legends.
I was playing with a friend. This friend was in the same room as me, sitting to my left. A third guy, someone we had randomly met online was also in the game. The last two spots on our team were filled by pugs.
The match started, and we started rotating through the various nodes. The three of us managed to hold on to two nodes and kept methodically pushing a third, the other two players milled about in the middle and occasionally assaulted their nodes closer to their nexus. The enemy was able to dedicate four champions against our three, and of the two nodes, we occasionally lost one, and fell back long enough to capture another node, bringing us back to the status quo of 2 nodes. We were effectively bleeding points throughout the game. By the end, their nexus had 350 points left, ours had only 1.
We were losing, badly.
And then something magical happened. Through no coordinated effort of our team, we managed to neutralize two nodes and capture three. For the next six or so minutes, we fought for our lives as we pushed against the enemy, interrupting node channeling and keeping them from capturing even a single node. They came close several times, beleaguered and disrupted, desperately trying to get that one final point that would bring them victory. But somehow, through sheer willpower and an unprecedented amount of effort, our team managed to keep them at bay.
The match ended with 0:1, in our favor. They lost all 350+ points against our final point. We shoved our chairs back, threw our fists in the air and cheered. It was one of the greatest moments I have ever had in online gaming.
And that, my friends, is why we play.