Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rage HD for iPad - App Review

id Software's Rage is a highly awaited game, coming soon for PC, PS3 and XBOX 360. Meanwhile, a version for iOS called Rage HD was released to serve as a teaser of the full game. While the game was free for a week, I managed to grab a copy for my iPad 2.

Here it is, with each aspect reviewed.
Rage is set in a post-apocalyptic world in 2029. In the iOS version, you play as one of the survivors who is thrown into a game show called "Mutant Bash" by an eccentric, Kingpin-like guy who peppers the gameplay with his commentary all the time. The game is an on-rails style experience filled with zombie-like creatures who ambush you; a perfect play-if-you-dare.

Rage for iOS comes in two flavors, Rage and Rage HD. The latter is a huge download and made for later generation iPods and iPhones, and for iPads. The former is a slightly smaller download that does work on iPad (from what I see online), but the quality isn't as good. This review is of the HD version.

Gameplay experience and controls

While Rage HD is not the exact thing that is coming to PC and consoles, it is a great preview-like experience. Don't get me wrong. It is not an incomplete, demo or teaser-like game. Although bland, it's a full-featured game that will hold you for quite some time.

Rage HD is all about the controls. If you have an iPad or iPad 2, this game is a must-have. It's one of those few games that will make full use of the technology in your hands and make your device worthwhile. There's the gyroscope control, which will make your camera move on its own, but you move your device around to aim at the monsters. If you want a completely realistic, challenging game, go with the "virtual window" setting. That way, your player moves on the preset rails, but you have to move 360 degrees in 3D to control the panning, tilting and pretty much everything of the camera.

Play this standing, in your room. Makes for a great exercise. These two modes will make your shoulders ache after a few minutes of playing. And don't tell me I didn't warn you. There are touchscreen-only control modes like the thumbstick, so that you can play the game sitting in a bus, plane or on your desk. But these are neither fun nor easy to use.

There are three weapons: a small handgun, an automatic assault rifle and a powerful shotgun. Ammo, health and "Bash Bux" (money that work as points) are scattered throughout the level. I would have liked to purchase additional weapons and upgrades with the Bash Bux, though. The lack of such a feature makes the money pickups pointless (except for highscores on the Game Center Leaderboards)

Rage HD does an on-rails experience quite well. You cannot move freely; you move automatically on preset 'rails', but this does not seem very restrictive. It is fully packed with mayhem to keep you busy. You will feel thankful for the automatic movement.

Rage HD has Apple Game Center support, which I like. There are a bunch of achievements that I didn't find myself actively trying to beat.

Levels and game modes
There are six levels set across three 'maps' in the Rage HD, namely Tenements, Asylum and Bunker. First three levels are the normal versions of these maps and the last three are mirrored remixes. All the levels have a 'Museum Mode' that allows you to walk on the preset rails and look at the place without any weapons or mutants.

I liked the design on all the levels. All were different, but equally hard. Increasing difficulty would have been good. But the health and ammo pickups seemed abundant in all three levels. Museum Mode is useful too. It helps you get a good look around the place before you start fighting.

Graphics and sound
Rage HD has almost unmatched graphics quality. I haven't played a lot of hardcore games on the iPad yet, but Rage looks really good for a mobile game. There is great detail even on areas of the map where you will never even go. All things in the game are 3D model with really high quality textures.

As for sound, I never felt like I was listening to the same sounds over and over again. There's a wide variety of sounds throughout the game, but nothing really remarkable. However, there's a distinct lack of a good soundtrack in the game.

It's a fun and intense game that you will enjoy immensely, but overall does have anything very special. There's a clear difference between Angry Birds and Rage HD. Angry Birds is a game that successfully tries to hold you and display its replay value. Rage HD is something that is made to hold you for a while until the PC and console versions come out.

However, I will suggest you to try this game out anyway. If you cannot get it for free, the regular price of $1.99 is a true bargain for what this game has to offer.

Download Rage HD [iTunes Link; 747 MB download]