Friday, October 7, 2011

Mmm. You feel good...

Ode to a weapon.

I found the game I was looking for, once I saw it over the barrel of a twelve-gauge combat shotgun.

I was getting a bit down on Rage in the other day's Game Diary post, but admitted that "no one makes shotguns that deliver that crucial, satisfying slap like id." There may be no more to it than that, but that - in and of itself - is a huge gem in this game's crown, for me.

Let us not forget, id were the first guys to put a shotgun in an FPS. They birthed this thing. They wrote the rules, and Rage further cements the thought that they understand the fundamental nature of the weapon better than nearly any other dev. I can't recall being this attached to a shotgun since BioShock.

Earlier in the game - when I didn't appreciate how much cash I would have later on - I relied on the pea-shooting Settler Pistol or that godawful early assault rifle. Once I was doing backstrokes through dollar bills, however, I went to the nearest shop and bought a few hundred shotgun shells.

That, my friends, was a brilliant idea.

Now the rest of my arsenal are just around for those unique situations where the shotty is less-than-ideal. A far-off enemy on a turret? Crossbow. An armored brute? Grenades and the Authority Assault Rifle. Anything else? Shotgun.

Shotgun, shotgun, shotgun. Once I had the resources to use it as I wished, it provides this wonderful grim confidence I haven't felt since... well shit, I'll say it - since Doom.

Those of us who put obscene hours into id's most-recognized property will understand what I'm talking about. With ye olde shotgun, the game became this perfectly-paced dance of death.

BOOM - ka-chik - BOOM - ka-chik - BOOM - ka-chik. Never a wasted shell, never an enemy left breathing. id simply makes the shotgun a confident, valuable, vital weapon - and this is doubly important in Rage, where firearm-equipped enemies are a legitimate threat.

With the Settler Pistol or even an AK, I tended to cower behind boxes - taking pot-shots at their heads and basically doing chip damage. I wasn't, to be honest, having much fun.

Once I gave my shotgun the love it deserves I was sprinting between cover points, watching for the perfect moment to rush a clutch of four assault-rifle-wielding punks. Don't hesitate. Don't blink. At sixty frames per second, you can't afford to. Dash up to the first one, put the barrel to his head and pull the trigger. BOOM.

Given the enemies' greater ability to kill you, this becomes much more of a razor's-edge risk-reward situation. This shit can get you killed - but once you slip into those well-worn mechanics and understand the feel of the shotgun... mmm. All I miss is the ka-chik.

Oh! And because I bought a release-day copy, I get some DLC... what? Why hello, who are you?

I'll call you Sweetness. And I'll love you and hug you and keep you stocked with explosive slugs and polish you every day.

Honestly, it feels so goddamned slick to take out three nearby foes with the combat shotgun, switch to Sweetness and pelt dudes across the room with a twin pair of grenade-slugs, ricocheting their bones and blood off the walls.

After spending more time with the title - while I still have a few complaints about presentation and the save/load system - I find I'm having more straight-up fun than the first hour or so led me to expect.

I even like the driving. Once I won a few races and pimped out my buggy, I find I don't want to use the cars the game tells me are better - they're bigger, harder to turn and slower - while my nimble little buggy just flies around and turns on a dime. Plus, rocket launchers.

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