id Software, the studio behind Doom and Quake, is bringing its upcoming first-person shooter Rage to Apple's iOS with Rage HD. Rage is impressive looking, and so is Rage HD. But how does it play?
Rage HD is an "on-rails" first-person shooter that is set in apocalyptic wastelands. Players are armed with three weapons (machine gun, shotgun and pistol) as they compete on Mutant Bash TV for prizes, ammo and survival. Since it is a rail shooter, the player's coast through each of the three stages, aiming with the iOS touch or motion controls. I preferred the touch controls, because they felt more precise.
Impatient gamers unwilling to wait for Rage's 2011 console and computer release. Also gamers looking for an experience beyond "typical" iOS puzzle-type games.
This game is stunning. Hands down, this is one of the most impressive looking iOS games. And more than that, it's got an id Software pedigree.
So it's just shooting? Is there any story? Hrm, if you consider killing a bunch of mutants a compelling plotline, then this game is wall-to-wall story. It is light on plot, but plot's not the point. Ultimately, Rage HD is a showcase for what id Software can do on the iOS with an on-rails shooter.
Besides shooting mutants, shoot targets.
On-rails? I hate on-rails games. Really? On-rails, when done right, can be terrific. And for much of Rage HD, it's done very well. One of the big problems with iOS games is that they don't have a proper directional pad or joystick, leaving players to fiddle through "virtual" controllers and deal with motion controls. But a rail shooter for the iOS makes perfect sense because players no longer have to fiddle around with fiddly controls. That being said, Rage HD did make my neck hurt.
It made your neck hurt? Yeah, because I kept feeling like the on-rails bit was whipping me around the stages like a rollercoaster. Part of the challenge in Rage HD isn't simply shooting enemies, but grabbing items (cash and ammo) as the "on-rails" mechanic moves you quickly around from one room to the next. It makes gameplay fast and frantic — and ultimately short.
How short? To be fair, there are varying difficulty settings. So if you put it on the hardest setting, you'll be busy for a good while. But on the easier settings, it's easy to tear through the three stages pretty quickly, which gives the game a bit-sized demo-like quality.
You said you liked the touch controls better. Why? I'm not a fan of the iOS motion controls in most games. Motion controls work in, say, Doodle Jump, but I don't like them for shooting titles, so I changed the controls to touch. The touch controls are good on the iPhone, but there is a pause button in the bottom middle of the screen that I kept accidentally hitting, pausing my game.
Yes, the game is short, and sometimes I wanted the on-rails bit to stop for a second, not so I could catch my breath, but so I could look around and admire all the work that went into the game. With Rage HD's three levels, it's as though id Software put all its effort into making the most impressive iOS demo ever. Rage HD is deeply impressive, but leaves me wanting more.
Rage HD was developed and published by id Software for the iOS, released on November 18. Retails for US$1.99. A copy of the game was purchased by Kotaku. Played to completion.