With the immediate vicinity shorn of mutants, we finally had time to soak in the size of the desert. Our destination, Wellspring, was several miles away. Time to make tracks in a makeshift buggy that looks like a losing effort from the old TV show Robot Wars. Looks like it, performs much better - this rustpile zips across the sand like a penguin on butter. There's much to explore in the outback, too, if you can put up with the incessant bandit attacks. id Software call RAGE's structure "open, but directed" - there's plenty of rewards for veering off the beaten track, but you're always left in no doubt as to what your main goal is.
But our fear with RAGE at this early stage? That it lacks the brains to match its drop-jaw beauty. id's previous big hitters - Doom 3 and Quake 4 - were criticised in some quarters for merely presenting a prettier version of the corridor shooters that came before it. There are shades of this when RAGE blocks off the open world and gets a bit linear. In the bowels of Wellspring, we see tired old ideas from long-forgotten games hyped as the second coming of gaming. Firing an electrical bolt into a pool of water to fry multiple mutants? Hmm. We're just hoping explosive barrels don't make the final cut. But maybe it doesn't matter. Doom 3 and Quake 4 were widely criticised by many, but widely loved by many more, too.
And if RAGE is little more than a loud recap of ten years of first-person shooting evolution, then who better to pay homage to the genre than the developers who nigh-on invented it? Plus, games that look this good are always worth turning on the waterworks for.