You play a recently awakened survivor of the Ark Project, a cryo-stasis unit designed to protect the best of humanity from an oncoming meteor strike. Needless to say, something went wrong, and you find yourself in the unfamiliar and fractured world that rose up from the impact. The tutorial period - about two hours - teaches you the basics of the world, introducing the shooting mechanics and driving sections.
These are where Rage stands apart from its peers - the controls for the vehicles are superb, and customisation options enable you to create a veritable mobile death machine, while the enemy AI borders on the dangerous. Various clans, from the manic Wasted to the feral Jackals, inhabit the wastelands, each attacking with their own distinctive tactics. Your own abilities (chiefly a defibrillator skill activated by a mini-game on death, electrocuting enemies in the area) and a plethora of weapons deliver a real sense of power throughout the game - perhaps a touch too much, in fact, as you'll need to ramp up the difficulty settings to feel truly challenged.
The greatest success of Rage is the freedom it gives the player. Though the core story sees you avoiding capture by the mysterious Authority, an organisation on the hunt for Ark survivors, the world is yours to explore, and missions can be taken in any order you choose. Wander around, and you'll encounter people mid-discussion or animals hunting. It feels wonderfully alive.
Missions are varied, the driving elements are fantastic, and the action frequently sends your heart racing - but the biggest problem it faces is one of over-familiarity. As a straight-up first person shooter, it lacks the humour of the aforementioned Borderlands and the role-playing depth of Fallout 3, making it a great game but not a timeless classic.