Review by indy00

"Quake 4 doesn't re-invent the wheel yet manages to deliver fast paced thrills and intense shooting action."

Built on the same engine as Doom 3 there is no doubt that many reviews will equate the gameplay experience that Quake 4 offers to Doom 3 itself. The argument has often been raised that Quake 4 is what Doom 3 should've been. Truth be told, there is a lot of merit to this argument. The environments and atmosphere created within Quake 4 bears alot of similarities to Doom 3 but ultimately surpasses it in every way.

The story of Quake 4 is pretty cut and dry which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your preference. The Quake series has never been known for its deep and engaging stories. Fans of the series play the game for its fast paced action oriented design. In Quake 4 you assume the role of Corporal Mathew Cane, a Marine who has been assigned to the Planet Stroggos to clean up the remaining Strogg after the defeat of the Makron, however, it all goes wrong during the landing sequence and you're left to re-unite with your team on the planet's surface. From there you continue your mission to neutralize the Strogg forces and follow a few plot twists. The story isn't particularly deep but should keep you interested enough to want to keep playing to see what happens. In all the campaign is satisfying and should take you anywhere between 10-20 hours.

Gameplay wise Quake 4 is a typical run and gun shooter. It doesn't try and add in anything particularly revolutionary to the genre. You'll have your standard 100 health units and 100 armour units and plenty of ammo to run around blasting your enemies to pieces. In this respect, Quake 4 has done an excellent job in that the core shooting of the game is fast, action packed and will keep you on edge. However, Quake 4 does manage to infuse some modern First Person Shooter elements into it through a variety of weapon upgrades and some vehicle sequences which can sometimes be the more fun parts of the game. The only major criticism that can be made about the gameplay of Quake 4 is that the missions and objectives can sometimes seem uninspired and exist simply for the sake of being there. Additionally until you start getting upgrades for your weapons they can seem pretty archaic, however, as you do later receive upgraes which vastly change their nature it is easy to overlook this criticism.

In terms of your arsenal, what can be said about the weapons in Quake 4. To say they are superb is a mere understatement to the excellent design that has gone into their modeling, sounds, and damage. Each weapon be it the tiny pistol or the all mighty Dark Matter Gun packs its respective punch and you'll never feel like you're underarmed. Which is important for a game that is so focussed on shooting. However, while many shooters may be content with offering stellar firearms, Quake 4 offers more. Throughout the games campaign you'll be receiving upgrades to your weapons that vastly change their effectiveness and the way you use them. For example your nail gun is great and packs a heavy punch but you later receive an upgrade to allow your projectiles to home in on your enemies, sounds good, no?

To say that Quake 4 is visual eye candy is one way of putting it but its much more fitting to describe it as one of the greatest displays of next generation graphics. The textures are crisp and detailed to perfection. Character models are high polygon and again have crisp textures with lifelike facial animations. Lighting effects, as was the case in Doom 3, are simply stunning. As a result, the whole world created is vibrant, full of color and believable. It would certainly seem that the developer, Raven, went to great lengths to check over eveything with a fine toothed comb. The only criticism that can be raised against the graphics is the same argument that can be raised against Doom 3. The world maintains the super polished look that was so prevalant in Doom 3 and does take away from the realism of the game. Engines such as Source avoid this problem and offer much more blievable worlds, even within a sci-fi context.

The sound design within Quake 4 is excellent and all makes sense within the context of the game. Unlike Quake 4's prequel, Quake 2, the game has a mostly orchestrated soundtrack that matches the action in the game very well. The boss battles tend to share the same main theme which is really well composed and paints a scene of tension and adventure. Additionally the weapon sound effects are superb. The machine gun really sounds like a machine gun should, loud and powerful. This same excellent sound design translates to all the other weapons and not only when you're firing them but also when you're on the receiving end. Suffice to say, when a bullet hits you, you'll know it. In terms of the voice acting, its nothing special but its there is nothing wrong with it either. You can expect the typical taunts and sci-fi chatter that typifies similar titles.

With such an impressive performance on almost every level on Quake 4 its a little disheartening to see that the game is not very difficult. Shooter veterans will likely have no problem going through the game on hard mode for their first play through. The game fails to offer much challenge in the boss battles which, truth be told, are mere annoyances rather than challenging fights. Its sad to see that the most challenging parts of the game are when you're locked in an arena type area fighting off overwhelming amounts of enemies. Additionally it seems that the game could've offered more in terms of difficulty if the enemy AI was smarter. As a result Quake 4 does offer some challenge but many gamers may feel that the game could've offered more in terms of difficulty.

However, those flaws aside there is a lot of fun to be had with Quake 4. Despite the difficulty, you'll likely find yourself playing through the various boss battles again if not to gaze at the amazing looking boss models but just to experience them again. Additionally there is a full multiplayer mode that is built off of Quake 3: Arena. Developer Raven decided to not mess with success and it paid off with a multiplayer that is fast paced and incredibly fun. With an excellent multiplayer mode and a campaign that is still fun to replay on a harder difficulty setting Quake 4 is a game that certainly has a good lasting appeal.

To conclude, Quake 4 is an easy game to reccomend for not only fans of the series but for anyone that wants a great shooter to spend hours of quality time with. The story maybe simple but it keeps you going and serves as a great vehicle to get you from one place to the next. There is an excellent array of weapons to choose from and the graphics and sound design are some of the best the genre has to offer. Despite being a little too easy at times the game is ultimately an immersive thrill ride that will leave you satisfied at the end. Throw in an incredibly fun multiplayer mode and its easy to see why Quake 4 is an excellent game that is easy to reccomend to any shooter fan looking for another quality title to add to their collection. While Quake 4 may not re-invent the wheel it sticks to its guns and delivers an incredibly fun experience for PC Gamers.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/28/06

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