When humanity realizes an asteroid is going to hit the Earth and cause an extinction event in 2029, we do what any good self-interested species would do: Dig some deep holes in the ground and bury a stockpile of people in Arks filled with cryogenic capsules.
So imagine: About a hundred years later, you thaw out and wake up in one of these capsules — alas, the only survivor of your Ark. You venture out into the gorgeous, detailed world of “Rage” — and immediately get jumped by a snarling bandit straight out of a “Mad Max” movie.
Taken off-guard, you’re saved by a local settler who speaks in the companionable voice of John Goodman. He’ll give you a primer on the future and some crucial equipment in exchange for running a few risky errands.
The basics: Life is hard, supplies are short and this broken world is a dangerous place.
Bandit clans have strongholds all over, feral mutants range where the bandits don’t, and a well-equipped enclave called the Authority presses its boot on the independent people of the wastes, snatching up anyone who comes out of an Ark.
You’re in a tough spot, but as an Ark candidate you have a few advantages over the people of the future. The high-tech “nanotrites” that made it possible for you to survive the freezing process grant remarkable regenerative powers — you can come back from the brink of death, or even from beyond it thanks to your built-in defibrillator, which is activated as a mini-game when you take too much damage.
You start out with just a pistol, but it’s not long before you’ll find or buy first-person- shooter stand-bys such as a shotgun, assault rifle and sniper rifle, not to mention more exotic stuff like a silent-firing crossbow and the boomerang-like Wingstick, a razor-sharp flying blade that can decapitate a foe, and maybe make it back to you afterward.
You’ll be able to find and buy upgrades for the various guns, as well as discover schematics for making useful things from the scraps of a dead civilization — sentry turrets and robots, bomb-fitted RC cars,
health-restoring bandages and other useful things.
The region you explore in “Rage” is a large one, so you’ll need wheels. Your first couple sets are provided by the Goodman character, and you can win more by racing in events at the local “big” town of Wellspring — and then spend your winnings to bolt on a bunch of extra armor, auto
parts and weapons.
The wastes are full of people offering good money in exchange for favors. Some of the missions they offer will progress the story, while others are just for profit. You might be asked to head into a bandit lair to retrieve some auto parts, or to take part in a mutant-killing arena game show. There are numerous competitive racing events for you and your vehicles, or you can rather try your hand at package delivery (a hazardous vocation in a world like this one).
For a break from the solo campaign, you can hop on over to the game’s multiplayer modes, which include cooperative adventures through the tall tales of “Rage’s” wasteland and a vehicle-based arena mode called Road Rage.
It’s surprising, however, that the game lacks any sort of on-foot competitive mode, because the game’s developer, id Software, introduced that gaming archetype with the seminal “Doom” in the early ’90s.