Review by DandyQuackShot
"There's Strogg, Then There's Army Strogg"
Quake 4 is another game I found floating around in the bargain bin and surprisingly I found a copy intact. After playing this game through and thoroughly enjoying it I found myself wondering just why have never been a Quake fan? The answer is simply because the Quake series has had a bumpy span over the years first appearing for PC, then being totally revamped for an introduction to the Nintendo 64, then featuring a third game in the series focusing solely on split screen multiplayer (hey, split screen was a big deal back in the day), and then the re-reintroduction to the next generation of consoles with Quake 4 using the revolutionary Doom 3 engine...well you get the idea. Original fans got duped for the complete change of plot (the Quake title itself doesn't relate to any of the later games) and of course Quake 2 developed a loyal fanbase but the series missed a generation.
But it all comes back with a vengeance in Quake 4 and I can honestly claim to be a fan of the series now. The use of the Doom 3 engine reaches near perfection as a very simple concept that draws from along the lines of the Borg and Starship Troopers creates a dramatic and intense story that immediately gets you immersed into the horror that your transport ship crashes into. There are only two things that detract from Quake 4 although I can forgive one of them because of the tremendous amount of work put into the single player but everything else about this game just sucked me right into the crazy home world of the Strogg and angry space marines.
I don't think the concept of Quake 4 is original in the least bit but it is how this game puts so much detail into the experience that makes games like Halo 3, Prey, Turok, Gears of War, any other intergalatic struggle for humanity's existence seem like child's play. The whole plot of Quake was changed with the release of Quake 2 where we have the introduction of the Strogg who have done their best to assimilate Earth into its undead existence. Then Quake 2 featured an invasion by space marines to attack the Strogg homeworld and then Quake 4 follows up with another last ditch space marine invasion to sort of finish the job. Reading the gist of that may leave you thinking, "Well that's just a rip off of the Flood in the Halo series!" and indeed you are right, however, Quake beat Halo to the punch and more to the point Quake 4 puts the Halo series to shame given that Halo has a mature rating. There is just no justification to give a game like Halo 3 a mature rating after comparing it to Quake 4. Once again, nothing but child's play. In Quake 4 you are put in the boots a marine who has already been through enough fights with the Strogg to make you think that the marines he is reassigned with in Rhino Squad are just deriding him to make themselves feel more like men. Matthew Kane is mute throughout the whole game but he knows how to hold his own even when confronted by very unfortunate circumstances. I am not going to spill the beans on the story of this game even though the back cover gives it away, however what you see and experience while the story plays out is just amazing. Your squad mates turn into people you care about and make you hurt when some meet a gruesome demise. At one point you get a chance to go on board a spaceship used as the headquarters and you will run into other squads and soldiers who share their experiences and fears.
Rhino Squad, the squad you are in, is of course the best of the best and of course you get to lead the way into all of the most important objectives but the detail to marines in your squad followed with the very personable others that you meet throughout the game on top of the grim horror that is the fight against the Strogg simply drives this game the whole way through.
It does not take too long into the single player to understand how expendable space marines become when they are forced to deal with something that will not only turn you into an undead Borg-like character but will use body parts to supply energy to communication towers. Long story short, this game is as gory and bloody as it gets with the Doom 3 engine. If you have been under a rock for the past couple of years the Doom 3 engine is a unique game play system that allows for excellent graphics and effects for horror games. Quake 4 is definitely the most interesting and makes the longest use of its single player so you get excellent game length along with the immersive game play.
As a first person shooter you won't do much in the way of taking cover as this game is styled in the classic shooters of Doom, Duke Nukem, and Quake 2. You will run around searching for health packs and ammo along with picking up new weapons as they miraculously appear before you run into major trouble. Bosses abound in this game, horror effects such as human meat processing plants (Stroggification) abound all throughout your missions. A lot is also added like the use of vehicles in some points of the game including mechwarriors...once again you just simply cannot get by with calling these things walkers! I forget what other review I made about this same issue but whatever game it was used the same term for them. They are mechs... the Metal Gear series is brave enough to call them what they are...of course Metal Gear has enough financial backing to claim that. So you have classic Quake game play-updated, but still very classic, and also features such as AI help such as marine medics and techs along with your own squad mates and then you have vehicles to drive every now and then. Good deal. Guns are very cool as well. You have quite an arsenal by the time you face the last boss of the game including such weapons as a rail gun, electric shocker, and my personal favorite (no offense Spock's mom) the dark matter gun.
Everything about the graphics and sound are excellent because they make the best use of the Doom 3 engine except for one thing I just could not forgive. The biggest issue I had with Quake 4 is that after killing any Strogg they would immediately dissolve into green bubbles. At first I thought, well maybe this is how they die, they just...dissolve. But then later on I found out the space marines were conducting experiments on some of the Strogg killed in combat and then of course Quake 2 was a man enough of a game to leave dead bodies where they lie so this really bothered me. You never really get to see the Strogg other than when they are coming after you. This also takes away from the realism of the game. But just to give you an idea of how immersive Quake 4 is, I actually turned off the music for my entire play through in the single player and the sound just kept up a very realistic experience. Very cool stuff!
Unfortunately Quake 4 is one of those games that did not have a surviving multiplayer community. I doubt any game from 2005 still does. This however, I can forgive because the game length for the single player is very long despite it being divided between three segments. It is broken up into many missions so you get a very immersive and enjoyable single player experience that for other Doom 3 engine games gave you very little to go on. On top of that, the developers skipped this whole crap about limited editions and downloadable content and went ahead and included Quake 2 and the special features on another disc included with the game. So you if you were a N64 fan you get to play through a revamped version of the old Quake 2. The achievements for the single player are easy to get and I guess you would have to find some people on the boards to get the multiplayer achievements. Quake 2 also has achievements, however, all of them are for bragging rights only as they only award you zero points for each level completed.
Final Recommendation 9/10
Great game. I rank this as the number one humanity vs. aliens game for the Xbox 360. It is very much worth the find and it is very likely you have already played and enjoyed this game with its immersive single player experience and great use of the Doom 3 engine. An excellent horror game, I will be waiting for the Quake 5 sequel...or I guess in this series' case I should wait for the Quake 6 sequel. Whatever the case, if you have not played this game and you are a fan of Gears, Prey, The Darkness, Doom 3, or any of those games you will be pleased.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 08/06/09
Game Release: Quake 4 (US, 11/18/05)
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