Nov. 22, 2010 at 3:15 PM ET
John Carmack knows a thing or two about making addictive shooting games. After all, he's the programmer behind ground breaking first-person gunners like "Doom," "Quake" and "Wolfenstein 3D."
Now Carmack and the folks at the company he co-founded (id Software) have delivered another ground-breaking title — "Rage," a game that is probably the best-looking (albeit disturbingly so) game you'll play on your iDevice.
"Rage: Mutant Bash TV," a game that launched late last week, has sped to the top of Apple's App Store charts. This post-apocalyptic on-the-rails shooter is sitting pretty in the No. 1 spot on the iPad Paid Apps chart and in the No. 3 spot on the iPhone Paid Apps chart (threatening to unseat "Angry Birds"and "Cut the Rope" as we speak.)
In this game, the apocalypse has come and gone and left in its wake a wasteland filled with mutants (as if it would be anything else). But après this apocalypse the remaining humans have found a way to turn these gnarly lemons into lemonade. That is, the mutant problem provides fodder for a lively game show called "Mutant Bash TV."
You are the star of the show, which means you'll be sent running through one labyrinth filled with mutants after another. It's your job to gun down as many of these beasts as you can, avoiding the projectiles they hurl at you while trying to grab as much cash and ammo as you can. Mostly, it's your job not to get dead.
The pacing here is swift and intense and the gruesome graphics are bloody amazing. The sound design is totally gripping – the grunts, growls and shrieks of the mutants will send a shiver down your spine for sure. Meanwhile, the controls and the multitude of challenges to conquer on each level will certainly keep you coming back time and time again, as you try to best your previous score.
In a recent interview, Carmack told me that he and his team paid a lot of attention to the kind of details that make a shooter repayable and truly visceral – weapons animation, the response of the enemies, the sound effects, the particle effects, the projectiles, and the way they animate enemy deaths.
"This is the type of stuff that's the bread and butter of first person shooting for as long as we've been doing it," he said. "We've been doing it for the last 15 to 20 years. We know a lot about it now."
Meanwhile, with the game priced at $1.99, you really can't go wrong. But why the low price for such a top-notch game with such a high-falutin pedigree? It's because "Rage" doubles as a promotion for the forthcoming "Rage" game that's coming to the consoles and the PC next September.
Both titles are set in the same universe. Just think of the iDevice version as something of an appetizer — one cooked from the content made for the console game to come.
Carmack and id have been powerful proponents of iOS gaming, having brought several "Doom" games and a "Wolfenstein 3D" game to the App Store previously. And Carmack says he's been thoroughly enjoying working on these portable projects, which allow a small team to work quickly and see their results immediately.
While they have spent the last four years working on the "Rage" console game, "Rage" for the iPhone/iPad was completed in a matter of months, he said.
"It was especially fun to be doing this on such a short cycle. In many ways it does hearken back to the golden days when id Software was just a half dozen people and we were doing the really early games like 'Wolfenstein' and 'Doom'," he said. "There's something to be said for the fact that you can go do something rapidly and that every day you work on something makes a difference — knowing that something you did today made the game better."
For more iPhone/iPad news check out the following:
'The Daily' will be first iPad-only newspaper
'Angry Birds' fail to negotiate peace treaty
Superb 'Cut the Rope' game ties up iPhone/iPad charts