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Rage

The creator of the FPS as we know it gets some fresh air

Anyone who's played a Doom, Quake, or Wolfenstein game knows what to expect from Rage developer id Software. Corridors! Darkness! Ultra-violence! Corridors! Monsters that pop out of nowhere! Corridors! That's what id does, so that's what Rage will be like, right?

Well, no. This is a game of huge outdoor spaces, free-roaming exploration, vehicular combat and build 'em yourself weapons. In fact, the only tell-tale clue that Rage is an id game is its out-and-out spectacular graphics - forever id's hallmark.

Cursory inspection reveals trace elements of Fallout 3 and Half-Life 2: the post-apocalyptic wasteland of the former and the cinematic pacing and storytelling of the latter. Nonetheless, this is id's game, not some grab-bag of influences.

The developer has always done shooting monsters in the face par excellence, and now that escalates into shooting monsters in the face while driving across an asteroid-ravaged Earth. The buggy isn't a temporary, throwaway thing. Getting your hands on a vehicle is a big deal, and one that remains with you.

You can get out and walk, and will have to for certain combat and quests, but c'mon - you're totally going to careen across the wasteland, alternately ramming and shooting bandit buggies.

Your ride is not solely about its upgradeable mounted guns, though. Driving's an essential part of the game, from the use of handbraking to out-manoeuvre enemies, to earning much-needed upgrades by taking part in power-up-strewn circuit races.

There are also on-foot combat arenas, in which you take down swarms of murderous mutants - ideal as a violent reprieve from exploring the wasteland.

An ambitious and graphically dazzling FPS/driving/roleplaying hybrid set in a vast, action-filled world, then, but there's one thing that sets Rage apart from id's usual fare and from most other shooters. It's got a story.

A proper story with mystery and purpose, rather than "kill everything until the end when you kill a slightly bigger thing." It's a tale of your character's unexpected release from subterranean cryo-sleep onto post-asteroid-strike Earth's ravaged surface.

You're hounded by agents of a mysterious force known as The Authority - but who are they and what do they want? Id is flexing new muscles here - and when one of the most respected and influential developers in gaming history does that, we go weak-kneed with anticipation.

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