DOOM 3, id software’s last game, was one I had very mixed feelings about. It was a game I enjoyed from start to finish, although at times I wasn’t entirely sure why. It had all sorts of dated design mechanics, like when you’d run over a medkit which would inevitably awaken a demon napping in a nearby closet. And yet, even when matched up against what I considered superior games like Half-Life 2, BioShock, Crysis, Halo, Gears of War or Call of Duty, I still feel like DOOM 3 deserves a place as one of the more unique gaming experiences of the previous decade.
I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to feel the same way about RAGE, id software’s latest shooter, coming this September. Cutting-edge graphics in a unique setting? Check. RAGE‘s post-apocalyptic wasteland, which you’ll speed through using off-road buggies outfitted with miniguns – but id swears won’t play out like Quake Theft Auto – seems interesting enough. When you watch the main character chatting it up with various townsfolk, it would be hard to blame anyone imagining a hybrid between an FPS and Fallout 3. It’s intriguing, if nothing else.
And yet, the game appears stuck in the past in some areas. The outdoor environments look decent enough, but a lot of the indoor and underground areas appear loaded with drab browns and grays, not entirely unlike Quake. You see mutants recklessly charging at the player, doing everything short of holding a sign saying “Hi! Please shoot me in the face,” and you wonder if this will be Quake IV all over again, a game that was decent enough but dragged down by AI from 1999.
Still, there are promising signs. One weapon is a crossbow that can use electrified ammo that can zap enemies standing in water, evoking memories of BioShock or No One Lives Forever – two games you can never go wrong cribbing from. There’s a “mind control” bolt that somehow lets you pilot an enemy via remote control. You can engineer turrets and spider bots that will assist you in combat. It’s not open-world, it’s not an RPG, and id isn’t reinventing the wheel here, but it seems they’ve at least got a few interesting tricks up their sleeve.
And hey, when you’ve got little easter eggs like these “Quayola” Crayons and “Pinkies” snack food – both references to previous id games – it can’t be that bad, right?