Such is the god-awful state of reality TV and game shows these days, that the nightmare scenario brought to vivid life by id Software’s newest shoot-’em-up RAGE Mobile (out now, $0.99) – tooled-up contestants battling killer mutants for the viewing pleasure of bloodthirsty coach potatoes – probably isn’t as far-fetched as one might like to imagine.
I’m (sort of) kidding of course…
Anyhow, as the straight-to-the-point set-up for this ultra-violent FPS, and indeed tantalizing sneak peek at the post-apocalyptic universe of RAGE – the upcoming console and PC title that is – this schlocky, The Running Man riffing premise works well, putting the player in the thick of the action from the word go.
First things first. Much has been made of id’s decision to slap RAGE “on-rails” for its iPhone debut, but actually in the scheme of things it functions perfectly, and means the turbo-charged action isn’t bogged down by an unwieldy or needlessly convoluted set of touchscreen controls. Fair enough, it would’ve been interesting and arguably a ballsier move on id’s part to have a stab at a full blown FPS on iPhone, but would the end result have been visceral and downright slick as this version? Doubt it.
This is a game that’s been built from the ground up for speed, and its breakneck pace is undeniably thrilling. As you’re automatically whisked through devastatingly gorgeous levels, slobbering muties attack from all angles, leaping and lurching from the shadows, hurling chunks of debris in your direction and attempting to bludgeon your character to death with makeshift weapons. For all intents and purposes playing RAGE feels like going for a 100 mph spin in the world’s most terrifying ghost train. On acid.
Not having to worry about movement means you’re free to concentrate on blowing chunks out of enemies and grabbing the bags of cash and ammo crates that are strewn around environments. Tilt (or touch) controls are used to aim, while well positioned virtual buttons take care of shooting and reloading. All in all, it’s a pleasingly stripped-down system that allows for an uncluttered HUD.
The solitary aim of the game is to make it to the end of each level in one piece and with the highest score humanly possible. Sure, that might not sound like the most sophisticated gameplay ever, and it’s not, but honestly blasting everything that moves while the action barrels along at a blistering frame-rate, taking in some mind-blowingly sweet eye-candy, is undeniably exciting.
Now, I know, I know, it’s only 99 cents fer chrissakes, but, as it stands, RAGE remains a little light on content for my liking. The paltry three levels, or seasons, as the game has it, are over in the blink of an eye, while your bare-bones arsenal (comprised of a pistol, assault rifle and shotgun) could do with a few new additions. That being said, as it stands, RAGE is a stunning technical achievement and it will likely only get better come update time.
iFanzine Verdict: RAGE goes straight for the jugular with fast and ferocious, arcade-syle thrills ‘n’ spills, a no-nonsense control scheme and some of the most awe-inspiring eye candy ever seen on this platform. It’s on-rails approach will likely divide opinion for a long while to come, but don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. In short, despite it being something of a playable teaser for the upcoming console and PC title, this is a mini-masterpiece of iPhone gaming.