I'm thoroughly entranced by RAGE right now. It's undeniably an id game, but it has a modern day, wide-open feel. It's a glass cage, corridors wrapped in tantalising scenery that's begging to be explored. It's all so near and yet, so horribly far away.
The level of detail in the world I've seen so far is astonishing. What would probably have been featureless, blobby structures in some games are packed with incidental details, like walkways and doors and stairs - I want to explore!
I wouldn't have believed, after the crushing disappointment that was Doom 3, that I could be excited about another id game, but RAGE has made me think again. The fact that Doom 3 was a straight up remake in shiny new tech, launched into a post-Half Life world shocked and horrified me. Why hadn't they learned the lessons Valve had taught us? Why hadn't they progressed in their design and structure, to go along with their technical prowess?
It means nothing now - I've forgiven Doom 3 for (some of) its flaws. Although the id fanboy in me, the one that used to spend school lunchtimes playing the original Doom on the library PC, is long gone, I felt a little stir of him after the first hour of RAGE. It's utterly without the pretensions of the modern open world games it resembles. There's no time for character building, or wandering the world - three minutes after waking from a 106 year crryogenic sleep, you're sent off to kill some mutants, with not so much as a "How are you feeling?", or a "Here's what you've missed...". It's really quite refreshing.
The look of the game is so vastly different from id's usual dank, dark interiors (although there are some of those). The world of RAGE is quite beautiful, with a very painterly sky, and the character models and animations are amongst the best I've seen. I'm used to the bland, stultified and samey looks of MMO characters and Elder Scrolls NPCs - I'd happily have a couple of beers with kindly looking Halek Hagar if he'd give me the drugs that make him smile like that. The worried expression on Dan Hagar's face as he tells of his fears that his settlement will be overrun is actually believable, and two old guys in Wellspring - Mick, the mechanic, and old Richard, who's wife is dying - are quite scary in their reality.
It's been a pleasant surprise, this, and although I already feel that it'll only be a good game, rather than a great one, it's all but erased the memories of Doom 3's failings.