After five hours with id Software's ambitious upcoming first-person shooter RPG, McKinley steps away from Rage with a list of things newcomers should know about the post-apocalypse. Last week was the first time I'd ever played Rage, but I knew the territory well. After all, it's the post-apocalypse. From titles like Borderlands to Gears of War to the relatively colorful Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, I've seen it done many times before. And yet, Rage is different. At first glance, it doesn't even look like a post-apocalypse, but more like the outer stretches of Midwest America. But throughout my time with the game, Rage hooked me and drew me into its world. In the course of an afternoon, I fell in love with it, and wanted to go back to the apocalypse yet again. When you step into Rage for the first time, keep these things in mind. Everything in the Wasteland is useful. Even moose antlers. Don't: Lean Too Close Right from the start of Rage, as you climb out of an underground cryogenic pod (an Ark), the story has a way of pulling you in. Due to the opening cinematic, all you know is that an asteroid hit Earth in 2038, and you were part of a last ditch effort to preserve the human race. But you weren't supposed to wake up yet. No less than five minutes into the game, and BAM -- the camera jolts as a pasty-white, rabid bandit almost splits my skull open. I leaped about a foot out of my seat, knocking over my soda. Do: Listen to Your Neighbors Luckily, a local survivor, Dan Hagar, shoots down my attackers, and catches me up to speed -- it's the end of the world, and there's a bounty out for Ark survivors. In short, he just saved my ass. It's a Hell of an introduction. Once he takes me back to his base, an armored gas station, I'm introduced to the rest of the Hagar Clan. All of them are downright chipper for living in this dismal future, and before I know it, they gifting me with supplies, bullets, and a strong pistol. Alone, I wouldn't survive, they say -- and they're right. Non-player characters in Rage are expressive and vividly animated. About the only thing more interesting than their choice of clothes are the things they have to say. Do: Take a Minute to Enjoy the Scenery As I said before, Rage doesn't even look like a post-apocalypse at first, but more like the outskirts of Texas. From the minute you step out of the Ark, bright blue skies greet you, and the landscape of the wasteland greets you with plenty of color. Shops are littered with tons of little gizmos. Burned out buildings still house packed living rooms cluttered with TVs, paintings, sofa, and anything you'd find in a college dorm. From the bright towns full of survivors to the dark enemy hideouts, there's little details etched into Rage in every location. Do: Expect Smart Bad Guys Eventually, the people you meet will ask you to gun down bandits and mutants in their hideouts. They'll run in fear if you start kicking their asses, try to grenade you away from cover, and in some cases, run straight at you. Faster bandits are downright "ninja," and will do this while ducking your shots, sidestepping your melee attacks, and literally bouncing off the ceilings, making the combat much more exciting than standard run-and-gun affairs. Enemies will use all sorts of tricks to get the drop on you, and they'll usually travel in packs. Some will even play dead if you shoot them, just to return fire when your attention's focused elsewhere. Others will actually run away in fright if you pick off their buddies. Don't: Assume an Enemy's Dead If you shoot an enemy in the gut, they'll clench the bullet wound and fall limp to the ground -- and then they'll struggle to sit up and keep shooting at you. I've made the mistake of running right over enemies with their faces in the dirt, just to have them turn over and nail me with gunfire. Make sure to get the headshots when you can. Don't: Waste Your Bullets Dead enemies can be looted for ammo and dollars, but not nearly enough. Unless you want to find yourself out of ammo in a firefight, stock up at your local shop and ration out your bullets by picking the right gun for the situation. If you simply spray and pray, you'll find yourself stuck with empty guns or shelling out a lot of money for backup ammunition. Do: Pick Up All the Trash You Can Beer bottles, cans of cat food, jugs of gasoline and even more litter nearly every hideout and trash heap in Rage. Pick up everything you can, because some of that stuff goes for big bucks (especially the cat food). In the wasteland, trash is treasure, and everything has a price. ATVs and buggies in this game are more than just transportation. Racing events will give you access to guns, armor, and other upgrades. Also, crashing ATVs is hilariously fun. Do: Crash Your Vehicle, Just For Kicks If you're riding an ATV and crash full force into a low barrier, you'll flip over the handlebars and shoot into the sky like a ragdoll. It's hilarious. And you don't die, either, but just respawn by your ride. Do: Get Sidetracked Once I left the Hagar Clan's base and settled in the town of Wellspring, time started to fly. I got myself some new clothes, checked out the local bar, lost a game of cards, competed in a buggy race, and talked to everyone I met. Each person has something interesting to say, and lots of them have a job for you to do. Once I'm playing Rage again, I have a feeling that I'll be spending more time milling around shops and learning how to play this "Rage Frenzy" card game than hunting down mutants. Do: Compare the PS3/X360 Version to the PC Version Why? Because they look nearly identical. Keep in mind, id Software had a custom built PC rigged up during our demo session that was likely modded with the most expensive parts available. Aside from subtle lighting differences, particle effects, and slightly faster gameplay, it looked very similar to the console version. NPC models retained the same expressive animations. Framerates were still smooth as silk. Fabrics and textures were riddled with the same small, fine-tuned details. Just look at Dan Hagar's glasses when you first start the game, and you'll see what I mean. Bottom line -- Rage looks good, no matter what platform you're playing with.