id Software is one of the pioneers of the first-person shooter genre. Its Wolfenstein, Doom, and Quake series literally helped to create a whole new type of game that is now one of the most popular on the market. So when id announced the upcoming Rage series for multiple platforms, it generated instant excitement among gamers everywhere. iOS devices are the first to get a Rage game, with Rage/Rage HD now available on the App Store. Rage HD certainly shows lots of potential, but so far it isn't quite an instant classic like some of id's previous games.
All The Rage In Rage HD, Mutant Bash TV is an ultraviolent game show set in a dystopian future. The contestant (you) gets dropped into a level full of mutants, and you either fight your way out, or get killed. The show is presided over by an unsympathetic host, a creature named "J.K. Stiles." You have three weapons: a pistol, shotgun, and a machine gun, and if you fend off the mutants successfully, you will move forward to the next "episode."
Some folks have claimed that Rage HD is the game that proves that an iPad can produce better graphics than a Nintendo Wii, and this is a comment I'm inclined to agree with. Rage HD's graphics are simply incredible, featuring detailed, complex environments and various types of intricately animated mutants that are simultaneously entertaining and creepy to watch. The game is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad, although we found it to be somewhat crash-prone on the 3GS. (Rage SD is compatible with some older models.)
A fast-paced game with great graphics in which you battle waves of mutants has the potential to provide lots of thrills. However, the potential starts to unravel a little bit once you actually jump in. One such let-down is that the game is on a "track," much like Doom Resurrection. In other words, your character marches through the level automatically on a predetermined path, and you don't have any actual control over your movement. The camera is "semi-automatic," meaning sometimes it moves itself, but you can also control it manually. Unfortunately, this camera scheme doesn't work especially well, since you will often find yourself fighting the automatic movements unsuccessfully, rather than finding them to be beneficial, especially since the camera tends to be jumpy and jerky even when it's on auto-pilot. The one type of movement control you do have is the on-screen Dodge button, which you can use to swerve away from attacks and projectiles thrown by the mutants, and you'll have to become quite adept at dodging in order to survive.
The second issue we have with the game is the difficulty of picking up in-game items. Numerous health, money, and ammo bonuses are scattered throughout each level, and to pick them up, you point your weapon directly at them and press the trigger button (which temporarily changes to a "pick up" button). Picking up the items gets pretty tricky, though, when the camera is automatically whipping around rapidly, making it hard to aim at (and sometimes even to see) the bonuses, and if you miss by even a little, you fire your weapon instead of picking up the item, meaning you waste ammo instead of picking some up. Thus, you will likely find yourself constantly out of ammo for the shotgun and machine gun, and although the pistol is unlimited, some of the game's tougher areas make the pistol feel about as effective as a squirt gun.
Graphics As mentioned previously, the game's fantastic graphics are its strongest asset. id's "Tech 5" graphics engine claims to be capable of running iPhone/iPad graphics at over 60 fps, and Rage HD is easily one of the best-looking games on the App Store.
Sound Rage HD has great audio as well, with J.K. Stiles' sarcastic quips combining with eerie music and sound effects to complete the game's unsettling atmosphere.
Coming of Rage Story Rage HD's graphics and sounds are so amazing that we hope they set a new standard for forthcoming iOS games. The game is a clever concept that is fun to look at and fun to listen to. Unfortunately, thanks to the frustrating camera and automated movements, it's not quite so much fun to actually play. Here's hoping that the console versions of Rage, due next year, do a little more with the game concept than the iOS version.
Dragon Ratings Graphics Some of the best graphics ever seen on iOS. 5.0/5.0 Sound Nice music and sound effects, plus some delightfully cruel comments from the host. 4.5/5.0 Fun Meter Lack of free movement and a frustrating camera squander much of the potential this game showed. 2.0/5.0 Addictivity The game does have some replay value thanks to the great graphics and the sheer fun of blasting mutants, but it is too frustrating to be truly addictive. 2.5/5.0
Tips and Hints
You can earn bonus points for shooting the bulls-eyes throughout the levels, although you should also be careful not to let them distract you from holding off the mutants.
If you have some spare time and ammo and are feeling particularly heartless, you can also earn bonuses for mutilating the corpses of mutants you have already killed.
Make sure you wait until the last minute to hit the Dodge button when a mutant throws a projectile at you, since otherwise you will return to your original position too soon and get hit.
-------------------- Chief iPod Correspondent
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