Review by DKamikaze

"Enjoyable but won't rock your world."

Quake 2 was when I got into online gaming. MPlayer, Quake 2, 56k modem and endless fun. The fact that it was always so enjoyable online, and actually did a half-decent job at running back then too, made me long for more. Quake 3: Arena didn't quite scratch the itch though... if anything, I wanted more Strogg action. And finally, I got it. I'll review the single player first, then the multiplayer. Then go on to balance my scoring.

SINGLE PLAYER

Visually, this game thrusts eye-bleedingly gorgeous visuals (depending on your system setup) down your optic nerve with no qualms about long-term side effects. Then, this isn't exactly a surprise when you remember this is running on the Doom 3 engine, which itself is an unquestionably powerful piece of kit. Yes, brown and grey seem to be the new black in this game, but you won't mind, because it's all about the explosions, of which there are many. It's just a pity that the engine still isn't being used to its fullest - there are some pretty pathetic physics going on, and environments and items are unusually indestructible. NPCs can be killed by enemies but not by you. It's a little sloppy when you get down to nitpicking like this, but when you review you tend to focus on these little problems. It doesn't really have any bearing on the actual game.

Your character, Kane, is one of those stereotypical marine-types. Actually, scratch that. EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER IS STEREOTYPICAL TO THE EXTREME! Everyone has names, but you'll come to call them Loose Cannon, Cautious Soldier, Chicken-**** Russian Tech etc. No thought went into personalities, because the personalities are tired, cliched and honestly, you end up not giving a rats backside about any of the people in this game. They die, big whoop, what a shame, life goes on. It's a big difference from the intense character development and narrative we've become accustomed to over the years.

Anyway, the game goes on, music doing it's job soundly, a selection of weapons - some dull, some pretty, and the awesomeness that is the Railgun returning to tattoo a smile across your face for many, many hours. Progress is linear, mission based stuff but it does a good job of mixing up the events - ranging from escort missions, driving a hovertank, using a mechwalker and those obvious "run and find a way to unlock this door" type-missions. It does a good job at holding the interest with the right amount of action. While it doesn't often do a "Doom" and throw more enemies on you than you can handle, there are enough strogg (Or is it "Stroyg", as the monitors in the game spell it?) to blast to keep the action ticking over. And, of course, the odd spattering of bosses to waste your ammo on. It does it's job - maybe not spectacularly, but certainly well enough to make it a good, enjoyable and yet challenging and gripping experience.

There are of course, many problems to the single player. On occassion, the missions aren't very clear and you'll spend plenty of time working out what you're supposed to be doing next. The narrative is sometimes good, sometimes bad, and sometimes so appallingly cheesy you think you've ended up in a Starship Troopers rip-off. Some of the weapons don't have the "Boom" you wish they did (Personally, I'd have expected more recoil from a weapon as potent as the Railgun) and sometimes the environments seem sloppy in their progression. Couple this with NPCs who'll recharge your health and armour to max (often twice), some appalling A.I. which never seems to get much better than "hide behind box and hope that we don't die" and "run straight for the player all guns blazing", and an abundance of ammo and healthpacks - oh and "that" plot development which you'll know by know unless you've been under a rock for the past year - and you'll realise that this is NOT a game done on the same technical level as F.E.A.R., however it is a thoroughly entertaining romp through an alien world, and worth the admission price just to experience it once.

it doesn't do anything spectacularly new, fresh or original. I wish it did, they had the power, scope and time. But for what it is, it's definitely a great game when you take it for what it is - a FPS with a story. It's not the greatest challenge (though on a couple of occassions this game WILL test your patience) but then, for the 10-or-so hours it lasts, you'll be entertained, and that's the point, isn't it?

Single Player score - 8/10

MULTIPLAYER

This is where it goes oh-so wrong. Oh no. Oh dearie me, no. It's like stepping back to 1999, an era where Quake 3 Arena was god and UT2004 didn't exist. A return to the dark ages.

It's not all bad though, because many things make a return in the multiplayer - rocket jumping, a staple of the Quake 2 multiplayer diet, was forcibly "cold-turkey'd" from Quake 3: Arena. It's back, and we still love it. The environments aren't bad and there are plenty of people playing it.

I guess there is a problem though. First of all, the speed of which this runs will be very "rig-dependant", so you're going to want to check up on your system specifications and latency. Most of us who can run the game fine will have no issue with Quake 4's multiplayer, but it is worth pointing out that for maximum enjoyment, you make sure you're packing at LEAST 1gig of RAM in your machine and running on at least DSL, just to be on the safe side. And secondly, be aware that I wasn't joking when I said this was a trip back to the dark ages. It's still awfully basic stuff - your basic multiplayer staples.

On a technical level, when they claimed they were going "back to the roots of Deathmatch", they succeeded. The whole experience is pure, unadulterated deathmatch. No-holds-barred. It does the job well and I am sure this will have countless admirers. But I just feel cheated.

I once again point out UT2004, which I have to add is a MUCH better multiplayer deathmatch experience, with some awesome variety - with Onslaught and Assault modes for extra clout. Quake 4 could have used varients of these to spice up it's multiplayer and may, no doubt, recieve something similar in the future if the community demand it.

But as it stands, multiplayer in Quake 4 is rather basic fare. It's been done much better, and is way behind it's competitors which have progressed in this field with leaps and bounds. Some will like it, some will hate it, and some, like me, will just end up thinking, "Meh".

Hopefully, the mod and mapping communities will get to work on expanding upon the currently rather basic framework. The foundations are there, and are solid enough, but there just isn't enough meat on the bones right now - here's a cautious score on the current state, with the deep desire and hope that things do indeed, improve as time goes on.

Multiplayer score - 6/10

OVERALL

Right now, well. Single player is great fun, multiplayer is currently in a bit of a bland state. Using the old logic of score 1 + score 2 divided by 2, you get 14/20 or 7/10. Which, to me, seems a perfectly reasonable score to give it.

It's a fun game. And in the future, as mods and maps become available, this game will no doubt shine in the glow of the ingenuity and perseverance of it's fanbase. But as of 25th October 2005, in it's infancy, it's hard to totally recommend this, especially in light of some other awesome titles out there at this time.

I look forward to seeing how Quake 4 develops from this point on, and will expect the not-so-surprising expansion/spin-off in the future (Come on, you know they will!). How long it will remain on my hard-drive is anyones guess though... I hope in a years time to be totally eating my words and spewing undying praise on how this title has progressed.

Here's a 7/10 for you now Quake 4, and I keep my fingers crossed that you grow up to be a fine young game in the coming months and years...

Overall score - 7/10


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/25/05


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