Rage HD (iOS) Review

As gamers we’ve shot our fair share of mutant freaks. From the wastelands in Fallout to the streets of Left 4 Dead, if there’s one thing we’re good at it’s taking out grotesque humanoids. Now, with the power of id Software’s brand new mobile gaming engine, we’re able to continue our freak genocide on the go.

Rage HD is the first game to use id Tech 5 for a mobile platform. Packing all the visual splendor of a console shooter in to a convenient bite-sized package, Rage HD looks like no iPhone game before it. Environments within the 3 uniquely designed stages offer an incredible level of detail and feel well lived-in from all the debris and junk that clutters the space.

Though the few enemy character models repeat themselves with alarming frequency they too look surprisingly good. From their tattered rags to their sickly coloured flesh, the mutant freaks of Rage HD look the part.

At its heart, Rage HD is an on-rails shooter. Players maneuver around a predetermined course, blasting everything in their path and collecting power-ups on the way. Enemies will lunge at the screen or throw debris with the player’s only defense being to shoot their assailant down, or use a side-step ability to dodge the blow.

The game offers two basic control options; a touch-based navigation control and a motion sensitive option. Surprisingly, the motion-control option actually works better than the on-screen buttons that clutter the screen with the touch-sensitive choice. Players simply need to  tilt the phone in the direction they want to look and the camera moves thusly.

It works surprisingly well, but mostly because of the fixed route the on-rails shooter offers. There is some weirdness when the game’s camera is in motion as the player walks between rooms, competing with player control, but overall the experience is near flawless. With a little practice it becomes very easy to peg even small targets at a distance.

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Though the game only features 3 levels there’s tons of replay value in the experience because ultimately this isn’t a campaign-focused shooter. Players pop in and out of combat scenarios, much like they would a simpler mobile shooter. The only difference with Rage HD is that it looks and feels like a more complex FPS which makes the entire affair more enjoyable.

If the game has one major drawback it’s that it’s a hefty download. Weighing in at almost a full gigabyte you need to be sure Rage HD is something you’re willing to keep around. It’s understandable why it’s such a big game, all those textures take up room, but it would be nice to have the option to download levels piecemeal for those who don’t want to eat a large portion of their phone’s memory.

The game also seems to be a bit of a resource hog. It won’t slow down the iOS when idling in multi-tasking, but it will eat the battery like a fat kid eats cake. With the game paused and the phone idling, half the battery of an iPhone 4 will be whittled away within an hour or so. Of course this is variable pending the usage, settings and wireless connections on but across the board Rage HD will drain the system.

Rage HD is the first mobile shooter to get it right. It may not be as complex or free-flowing as a traditional FPS game, but the contained experience flourishes as an iPhone game. It’s addictive because it’s exciting, and it’s exciting because it works. The game flows and you feel in the heat of the action the entire time. id Software has released a fantastic test case for both their mobile gaming engine, and the future of iOS gaming.