This was one of my big hopes for 2011. From the creator’s of not only classics like Doom and Quake, but the First Person Shooter genre entirely, ID Software, headed by uber-geek-genius John Carmack promised to really bring out the big guns with their long-awaited next game. Showcasing ID-Tech 5, their latest graphics engine, the pioneering studio with the help of several gameplay previews, got me chomping at the bit with anticipation. So what’s the final product like?
This game borrows heavily from Post-Apocalytic movies like Mad Max and Doomsday, with you as a no-name grizzled hero fresh in town and ready to earn cash doing missions for the local populace. Along the way you will infiltrate bandit hideouts, armed with a meaty shot-gun and a variety of gadgets and gizmos, and also you get to explore the wasteland in a souped up buggy, which you can upgrade and add firepower to as you complete missions or win races. Playing the game the immediate wow-factor is the utterly lush visuals, pin-sharp and full of colour and detail. The game is over-flowing with personality, especially in the huge variety of folk you encounter and the wealth of mini-games you can enjoy to earn and gamble your cash. It’s clear that this has been a labour of love for ID, all at a silky smooth 60 frames per second, making the game feel very immersive.
The game doesn’t exactly do anything new, and at times it bares an uncanny resemblance to Red Dead Redemption with its urban setting and quirky characters. The game is mostly go here, do that and get a reward style, which I suppose could get boring, but ID has filled the game with gorgeous graphics and meaty combat and well-executed driving mechanics. It’s all very polished. The only real gripe I can find is one that has already been levelled at the game – the save system. This plays a touch old-fashioned, checkpoints at the beginning and end of missions, and if you don’t remember to save frequently yourself you will be re-playing parts of the game over and over.
There is an online component which I have yet to explore, involving co-op play and buggy racing. I will take a look at this and report my impressions separately. For now though this is easily one of the shining lights of the current new releases – and an easy recommendation.