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Review: Rage HD

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Rage HD for iPad

© id Software

Category: Games - Action/Arcade
Developer: id Software
Released: 11/18/10
Rating: Ages 12 and up
Requirements: iPad with iOS 3.1 or later

Download from iTunes

Rage HD Features

  • On-rails shooter from the studio that brought us Castle Wolfenstein, Doom and Quake
  • Battle your way through three areas with three difficulty levels using three different weapons
  • High resolution graphics exclusive to the HD version

A non-HD version is also available

Rage HD Review

Rage HD for iPad

© id Software

One look at Rage HD is enough to know why John Carmack of id Software has become infatuated with the iPad. It's beautiful, perhaps the best-looking game on the iPad.

But that beauty does come with a price. Originally intended as a full-fledged first person shooter, Rage's high quality graphics taxed the device too much, and it was turned into an on-rails shooter. But despite (and perhaps because of) the movement restrictions, Rage works.

It's no secret that first-person shooters present a problem for touch-based devices in the same way that real time strategy games have a difficult time making the leap to consoles. The control systems simply aren't made for that type of game. Simply controlling your characters movement and aim quickly becomes a two thumb drive, and when you add in the need for a firing mechanism, a weapon-switch mechanism, a grenade-throwing mechanism and all of the other special needs for a full-fledged FPS, you quickly run out of fingers.

With the on-rails system taking character movement out of the equation, Rage HD lets you concentrate on gunning down the various mutants that have it in for you. The story behind Rage is pretty simple: a maniacal game show host wants to entertain the surviving post-apocalyptic dregs of society by filming you mowing down mutants with your rifle, shotgun and pistol. You can pick up bonus money, health and ammo by simply shooting it, and if you shoot the little targets, you'll get an added bonus.

Smooth Controls and Solid Game Play

The control system is actually pretty slick. The default control scheme is the touchpad system, where you move the camera with the touch of a finger. At first, I had difficulty with this one because I was using my thumb to manipulate the camera, but the sensitivity was too low. You can choose to use an index finger -- which actually works really nice -- or simply boost the sensitivity to Normal or High.

But the touchpad system isn't the only way to control your aim. You can also use Tilt, which aims with the tilt of your iPad, or Gyroscope, which reacts with the full range of movement from the iPad. There is also an option to use a Virtual Window control system, which puts you in the center of the action by using the iPad's position as if it were the camera. In this mode, you'll need to spin 180 degrees to look behind you, so you'll either want to play standing or sitting in a swivel chair. Whichever you choose, it definitely adds a new dimension to the idea of an on-rails shooter.

The game itself is fairly simple. You'll blast the incoming horde of mutants, picking up ammo and health as you go. Some mutants will hurl rocks at you, which you can dodge with a quick button press, and you'll definitely want to mash that dodge button when a mutant gets right up on you. Periodically, you'll move through the area, which can be sped up by hitting the sprint button.

Will it go down as the greatest game in the history of mankind? Definitely not. But it is easily worth the price of admission ($1.99), has enough game play for hours of enjoyment, and is easily among the prettiest games on the iPad, at least in a grimy, post-apocalyptic way.

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