It’s just as well the army hasn’t bothered incorporating tilt control technology into their weaponry. Collateral damage would be so great that it’d be more humane to just nuke whichever country we were invading before we got there. Maybe the army is smart enough to know not to bother with tilt controls when it comes to shooting stuff. It sure doesn’t make much sense on paper.
For first person shooters it’s up there as one of the least desirable ways to play alongside playing with pencils jammed up your nose or through a periscope strapped to a Cheetah.
I made it through Rage HD’s three levels without vomiting but it was a close call. It’s an on rails shooter controlled partly with tilt, one that has to deal with 3D environments and categorically zero buttons. As is to be expected then, the HUD is littered with touch buttons and information: bottom right corner to shoot, top right to reload, top left to change weapon and lower left to dodge attacks.
Enemies are rather dim mutants who sprint your way with jerrybuilt melee weapons. There they stand in front of the screen and wail on you until you’ve diminished their health. You can dodge but you only revert back in to the line of fire within a second or two and the dodge mechanic is only really useful for hauling ass out of the way of rocks tossed your way. But even then, it’s an automatic move and if you don’t time it perfectly you just waltz right back in to the firing line of a three-kilo rock.
But it’s the shooting that is the real setback. The crosshair remains stagnant throughout the game, anchored to the centre point of the screen. And so you tilt the screen like you’re firing bullets out of your er, chest. It’s completely unnatural and offers none of the speed required to quickly dispatch the horde of mutants present in each room. That said, it does work, you’ll be on the receiving end of more than a handful of whacks to the head but the mutants die quickly and you’re outfitted with three weapons (pistol, machine gun, shotgun) to make the act easier.
But that doesn’t matter because it’s no amount of fun. Shooting is a labor, cumbersome and nauseating because the device just isn’t designed to handle first person shooting, even on rails.
Rather than trying to dilute this though, id shed light on how gauche the shooting is by littering the levels with ammo pick ups and money bags you have to shoot to acquire. On top of that there are dozens of targets you’re awarded points for hitting. As if firing at the rabble of mutants on screen and keeping your Corn Flakes down wasn’t already troublesome enough without wasting precious ammunition on harmless bullseye targets.
Those targets are tied to the story though. Mutant Bash TV is the backdrop for the game and you’re its latest contestant. So your murdering ways are a futuristic sport – a violent score attack – but it’s irrelevant once you get going. You need to survive whether or not someone’s wiling mutants to cave your head in at home. It does afford an excuse for its score system and leaderboards but it’s hard to imagine anyone slaving away at this to be number one in the world.
Rage HD is a tech demo and on the plus side as a demonstration of id’s iOS technology it’s certainly impressive. Levels are moody and capture the tone set by the trailers and snippets of info divulged for Rage proper. They’re all apocalypse-y, dirty underground labyrinths, metallic corridors and run down buildings. Lighting is particularly impressive and character models are animated wonderfully. On top of that there are full motion cinematics and a sprinkling of voiceovers to boot.
But it’s supposed to be plugging Rage and I’m not convinced a sketchy, vomit-inducing, tilt-controlled, on-rails first person shooter played on a device with a four-inch screen and tin-can speakers captures the essence of any id Software game, let alone its latest upcoming powerhouse.