Preview: Rage

If you doubted that Rage could look decent on the Xbox 360, rest assured it is a beautiful game. During the 30-minute presentation I attended at the Bethesda booth at E3, the "hand-crafted" environments backed up the boasting of the id Software producer guiding attendees through two different campaign segments.

First of all, know that the premise isn't the only thing similar to that of the other big post-apocalyptic FPS, Fallout 3. The story is, like, very similar to that of Fallout 3. In Rage, a meteor strike has decimated the planet and the Authority -- the governing body of the world before the apocalypse -- apparently saw fit to bury these arks deep below ground, to house the remnants of humanity who could one day return to the surface after the effects of the meteor strike dissipated. The player's vault ark apparently has a malfunction (water chip malfunction?) and, as the last survivor, you must make your way to the surface for reasons unknown and join the rest of humanity and the mutated, crazed individuals who were once human.
%Gallery-92198% The first section of gameplay had us out at a shack in the middle of a huge canyon. After speaking with the kind, crazy old codger inhabiting the barely inhabitable shanty, it was time to jump into the buggy and experience some vehicular combat. Through the use of some high-caliber turrets, the id employee piloting the demo quickly took out a few enemy buggies and pulled up to Wellspring, one of the game's main city hubs.

Here, the inhabitants located an underwater spring and managed to set up a pumping system, making Wellspring one of the best spots to stop in the wastelands for a drink of fresh water. This naturally has made it a hub of activity, and walking through Wellspring, the main character was greeted and approached by all manner of citizens. Perhaps the most important was one of the maintenance men, who informed us that the Ghost clan had managed to sneak down into the well, threatening to poison the water supply. Here, we were given our first real taste of the game's guns and combat system.

The lineup of guns and gizmos was quite impressive. There are the standard firearms, such as a pistol and assault rifle, but the most impressive weapons were the most exotic. Like the crossbow, which could be loaded with electrical bolts to shock enemies standing in puddles. Then there were the high-tech weapons, like the spider turret -- a CPU-controlled bot that mows down any enemies in its proximity -- or an RC car strapped with explosives that literally 'sploded a room full of dudes. This gave the game some non-linearity, allowing the player to take the stealthy approach or simply gun down all of the Ghost clan in sight.

Ghost clan enemies are more nimble and agile than your average baddie. They move a lot like Spider Slicers in Bioshock: crawling on the ceiling, flipping around and such. This obviously made them quite tricky to deal with, but with every bullet that landed, excellent animations followed. Shooting a sprinting Ghost clan in the shoulder as he charged would cause him to reel back from the blow, yet his momentum meant that a gunshot simply wouldn't stop him. It made for some very realistic hit detection and animations.

Our final stop took us to the remnants of what was once a great city. Littered with crumbling skyscrapers and cracked roads, this marred metropolis was home to a huge mutated monstrosity -- who reminded us of a Super Mutant from Fallout 3. It quickly emerged to test the player's mettle, yet as the id employee guiding us through the session began to hit it with everything he had, the Rage logo slowly faded in and we were ushered out of the theater.

So while we didn't get our hands on the game, one thing is definitely certain: the Xbox 360 version of Rage is quite the looker. Folks have been worried that the multiple-DVD game for Microsoft's home console wouldn't live up to the PC version and, while we can't really comment on that, we will say that it looked beautiful regardless. With a constant framerate, little-to-no pop-in and some excellent animations, Rage is set to be one of the most visually appealing games we've ever seen.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.