Review by ZarbotheGreat
"An average FPS, and I do mean average"
I don't think that their is an "old school" gamer who doesn't have a memory of Quake or Doom back in the days when games were constructed of a collection of images rather then polygons. Quake was a biggy, and while it was not the first internet-multiplayer game, it is certainly the game that popularized it. Then Quake II came, and reviews were mixed, some loved it, some were disappointed, and so on. Quake III came and went, with a neat multiplayer experience. Now we have Quake IV, which strived to contain the tight single player campaign of II and the multiplayer of III, but have they done that? Read on and find out.
Also, I should warn you now that I will disclose the "major" spoiler in the game, but as this was practically disclosed by iD themselves, and if you've seen the trailer, or know anything about the game, chances are you've already heard it.
The game is gorgeous. Truly. You have all your fancy lights, great texturing, and so on. If you've seen a screenshot, you drool. The engine was even been optimized quite well for lower-end users to play. As for how well the game runs, it is based on your graphics card manufacturer. ATI users (and I am using an ATI Radeon x800pro by the way) once again screwed over with the Doom3 engine. Not that you will notice major performances problems, in fact, you won't. With my resolution at 1280x1024 and on High Quality, Their are only 2 points in the game where I can remember any thing representing "lag". However, ATI users did get screwed over in the field of Anti-Aliasing. In Doom3, from what me and my friends have gathered, is that AA in Doom3 could not be jacked up all the way with ATI cards, but could still be used as high as 4x-6x. Quake 4 however, you just flat out can't use AA. Not that it matters too much, the game looks great anyways. However, it might have smoothed out the characters so they weren't candidates for the Conehead movies.
Another thing wrong is the level of physics: none. Their are barely any instances where you interact with surrounding objects. There are some, few they are. For me, this didn't have a huge impact, but it did take away from the experience. For example, when I fire a rocket, I expect all the crates and stuff nearby to go boom with it, especially when their are explosive barrels lying around. Instead: puff of smoke, and the adamantium framed boxes are completely intact. What age are we in? Surely in the age where graphic/processing technology has progressed to the point where the game can calculate impact damage. Even RTS games have this now a days, and Quake 4 doesn't?
That's what I have to say on graphics. By the way, the Dark Matter Gun (aka BFG Quake IV style) firing animation is awesome.
Sound is good. Not spot on, some of the voice cast is rather stupid, most of it is great however.
Alright here is the biggie, what it all boils down to, and the question is, does hte game succeed and creating the massive shooter we were hoping for? Yes and no. To answer this question, we will have to look into depth, read on.
The first third of the game is simply terrific. Quake IV may have been on the verge of re-writing how single player FPS games play out. Gone are the days of lone wolfing and having your entire squad wiped out within 15 seconds (see FEAR). Now, you are part of a time, and the feel the first part of the game creates makes you feel like you are part of a bigger conflict: a war. You are part of a war, not a one-man-op. Sure their are points where (lucky you) you gets sent off to do recon stuff all by yourself to find a switch, but most of the time, you are by a squad. And you will find it very hard for your squad members to die; they are more durable then even you. Over all, excellent gameplay in the first third of the game.
It's from the second third on out where the single player game fails miserably. First of all what happens? (Spoiler) You are Stroggified. You are captured, become a Strogg soldier, and before they complete the process you are rescued. Now you have the super-human qualities of the Strogg mixed with the intelligence of a human. You move faster, interface is slightly changed, you can read Strogg, and now have 125 health and armor. What else changes? Nothing. You don't gain anythign which changes gameplay, which is a bit of a downer. But that's not why the game becomes a bore. The reason is that the game turns into a lone wolf game. After you are Stroggified, you must escape from the facility and re-group with the mothership Hannibal. You have a problem though, every marine you meet along the way dies ridiculously quick in some sort of cutscene. You have a couple marines here and there which help you, but when you spend a third of the game running around trying to get out, and finding that now you must go solo is quite frustrating. Not to mention the bleak gameplay (which I will talk about later) is more apparent in the lone wolf gameplay then the squad based gameplay. From here on out, the game becomes a lone wolf game, and it's not fun.
What is wrong with the gameplay exactly? Mainly the enemies. It seems that the Strogg motherbrain assigns each kind of strogg warrior 2 or 3 commands consisting of attack++sidestep+charge, with each enemy coming in a slightly different flavour of those commands. They are mostly cannon fodder; the "regular strogg" unit simply sidesteps and shoots, and does literally nothing else. All the strogg melee units do nothing but charging, and they try to hit you and fail, because to dodge it all you have to do is either run around in circles or run backwards. Even the kind of strogg which looks like it is supposed to use tactics doesn't. They are the orange-armored ones, and they seem to be the smartest. What do they do? Charge blindly firing. They do use a little cover, but most of the time they self-suicide by running out of that cover. You can even lure these guys around a corner and blast them with a shotgun and they keep coming not realizing what's happening.
Now, I don't think anyone wanted a sophisticated AI, what we do want though is enemy variety. We want enemies that aren't basically bigger brothers of the regulars. And this is the main reason why the lone wolf gameplay gets so tedious: lack of variety. With no squads to heat things up, you find yourself blasting at the same braindead Strogg squad over and over again, and that does get boring.
What else is up with the Gameplay? Well like Doom3, there are a lot of dark areas. However, unlike Doom3 their are also a lot of light sources so you can actually see. Lights come from the level, or whatever soldiers with you flick on the lights on their guns (mind you like I said it doesn't take long for them to vanish from gameplay). In addition, your pistol and machinegun (standard rifle) are equipped with flashlights. This all means that dark areas are no biggie. In fact, while their are some jump out of your seat moments, Quake IV doesn't try to scare you in any way. This is a good thing, since it keeps the tempo fast, rather then the dragging speed of Doom 3.
Their are also token vehicles in the game. One is a hover tank, the other a mech. Both felt like they were thrown in just so the game could say they have vehicles, since neither of the levels seem necessary. They are incredibly easy, using the Halo method of recharging your sheilds/armor.
The weapons in the game are pretty much a greatest hits collection of Quakes weapons and creates the standard FPS arsenal with a few unique weapons like the lightning gun. In the single player campaign they also get "mods" that do things like giving hte gun a bigger clip, tracer rounds, armor piercing, etc. Over all fun stuff.
Anyways, that just about sums up Quake's singleplayer gameplay... now onto....
O jeeze how could Raven do this? HOW! They sure did capture the feel of Quake 3, in fact they pretty much copied it word for word, took out some content, and didn't add anything to keep up with the times. What do I mean? I mean new gameplay modes, and worst of all, keeping the max 16 player sever limit. Didn't they learn from Doom 3? Apparantly they didn't, but I'm sure it won't take long for people to crack that big mistake and get 32 and 64 player games going. Why is this such a big deal? Well okay, you can have a lot of fun with 16 players in a deathmatch, or even in CTF. But now-a-days, players have grown accustomed do frantic gameplay with more players then they can count. This makes team based games very fun, and deathmatch games ridiculous. A 16 server feels more like a babies server for a fast-paced multiplayer game like Quake. A 16 player server is better for things like Counter Strike, not Quake. Their is also a more sinister reason behind this, which as a PC gamer I take as a slap in the face. What console is Quake IV comming out on? Xbox 360. And what does the Xbox use to play games online? Xbox live. And what's the cap for FPS server games? 16 PLAYERS! I feel like iD and Raven sold me out to jump on the console bandwagon, rather then sticking with the fans and the market that created the games in the first place. Sold out I say! Anyways, I don't lie that my personal bias may have affected the multiplayer score I gave, but that's how it is. Terrible, for shame iD and Raven.
When it came to Quake IV, were we really expecting a strong story? I sure as heck wasn't, just an excuse to blast Strogg metal. So what is the story? It continues from Quake II, and you are now leading the main offensive against the planet Stroggos in the war. That's about it, the entire game you are fighting the Strogg on their home-turf. Really, were we expecting something?
Is this game worth my hard earned money?
For 50 to 60 smackers, maybe. The first third of the single player game is really good, despite the short comings of the rest of the game. As for the multiplayer, it will hopefully (and probably) get better as moders start rolling out the game content. Saying that, you should probably wait a bit unless you want the single player to tide you over.
My overall rating is not an average, but my impression of the game.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 10/31/05
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